VAN WERT – The first glimpse of winter, 2018-2019, could indicate a fairly mild winter in Tri-County area and the surrounding Midwest, according to the first projection released late last week by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. At least a portion of that projection depends on the possible development of an El Nino over the winter months.

A mild winter could be in store for much of the United States this winter. The report notes that above-average temperatures are especially possible across the northern and western United States, Alaska and Hawaii.

Officials said that there is up to a 75 percent chance of an El Nino developing, although at this point it is expected to be a weak El Nino. Still, say officials, it may influence the winter season by bringing wetter conditions across the southern United States and warmer, drier conditions for parts of the North.

Other climate patterns that can affect winter weather are challenging to predict on a season time scale. The Arctic Oscillation influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and could result in below-average temperatures in the eastern part of the United States.

The Madden-Julian Oscillation can contribute to heavy precipitation events along the West Coast, which could play a large role in shaping the upcoming winter, especially if the El Nino is weak.

So what does this all translate to?

The initial report summarized by stating that warmer-than-normal conditions are anticipated across the northern and western United States with the greatest likelihood in Alaska and from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains.

Across the Midwest and Ohio Valley, it appears that there are equal chances for below or near above average temperatures. Average snowfall in the local area usually ranges between 30 and 35 inches for the season. The coldest month, January, usually sees daily highs around 30 degrees and nighttime lows around 15 degrees.

Van Wert County weather specialist Rick McCoy said that it appears that the first two weeks of November will include below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation.

“Temperatures are expected to remain in the fairly normal range of highs in the mid-50s and lows in the 30s,” McCoy said.