National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) meteorologists predict winter 2005-06 will be warmer than the 30-year norm, but cooler than last year. NOAA's heating-degree day forecast for December to February projects a 0.7% warmer winter than the 30-year norm, but 6.5% cooler than last year. Thus, folks can expect more cooler days this winter on average than last.

The outlook calls for warmer-than-average temps for much of the central and western U.S. The Midwest, the Mississippi Valley, the Southern California coast and the East Coast have equal chances of above-, near- or below-normal temps.

Precipitation-wise, NOAA sees wetter-than-average conditions across most of Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, northeast Texas, Hawaii and northwest Alaska. The remainder of the U.S. has equal chances of above-, near- or below-normal precipitation.

An equal chance, either for temperature or precipitation, is predicted when there's no strong or consistent climate signal for either above- or below-normal conditions during the season. The prediction for areas of “equal chances” means there's a 50% chance for either an above-normal or below-normal forecast.