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ERCOT’s Chris Coleman tells us what to expect this winter

Fall is following a year-long trend–warm and wet weather. And winter could be more of the same.

November temperatures will be higher than normal, says Meteorologist Chris Coleman with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). While part of North and West Texas may be closer to normal, all large cities are expected to be warmer. And much of the state could see 25 percent to 75 percent above normal rainfall. 

Winter predictions, however, are a bit trickier. 

A La Niña is expected to form going into winter. “La Nina episodes represent periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the east-central Equatorial Pacific,” according to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Association. “During a La Niña year, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest.” This year, the system’s strength is still in question.

“Last year, winter started with a La Niña and faded out,” Coleman said. And while he doesn’t expect the system this winter to be a strong one, the main debate he sees for North Texas is whether the season–which starts on Dec. 21–will be mild or normal. 

“It is least likely to be a cold winter,” he said.

Even in mild winters, cold periods are normal. Last winter saw record low temperatures in mid-December and January, though overall it was a warm winter. The last consistently cold winter in North Texas was in 2013-2014. 

Winter is more difficult to predict than any other season, Chris said. “Weather patterns change a lot faster. You can go from 15 degrees one morning to 80 degrees three days later. There’s a lot of change in Texas.”

Though his official seasonal outlook for winter is released Nov. 1, his preliminary forecast is for a mild winter.

“When it comes to the energy industry, I like to tell them that does not mean there cannot or will not be periods of extreme cold,” he said.

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