A best guess might be the best weather forecast this winter.
In October, meteorologists said winter might bring a little snow to the Augusta area, but now forecasts show the picture to be a little more up in the air.
Leonard Vaughan, a meteorologist and climatologist for the National Weather Service office in West Columbia, S.C.,, said Dec. 27 that the Augusta area now has an equal chance, about 33 percent, for above, near and below normal temperatures and precipitation for the next three months.
"There really is no climatic signal that tells us (temperatures and precipitation are) going to be below normal, normal or above normal for the next three months," he said.
What were strong developing El Nio weather patterns that indicated normal winter temperatures and above normal precipitation have weakened, according to the Web site for the weather service office.
With a strong El Nio, forecasts "would tend to lean toward a cooler weather pattern," he said.
"But like anything, things evolve," he said, and the predicted El Nino patterns fizzled out.
The 2007 Old Farmer's Almanac tends to agree with meteorologists' early predictions, with a caveat. It states the Southeast should expect a colder and wetter winter, on average, because of an El Nino pattern.
It also states, however, that if the El Nino pattern doesn't develop, most of the country will experience a mild winter. As of Thursday, the Augusta area remained about 3.3 inches below normal precipitation for 2006, according to National Weather Service data. Temperatures were about 1 degree above normal for the year through November.
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