CHICAGO (CBS) -- What does winter weather look like for the Chicago area?
The latest forecast from the Climate Prediction Center indicated a drier-than-average season, with a slightly better chance of warmer than typical temperatures.
However, don't pack up the snow shovels or ice skates. The prediction does not forecast snow totals, which can only be reliably predicted just a few days from a storm.
Predictions? Is there a point?
Without any precision, what's the point? Well, it helps with planning, mainly.
"These outlooks provide critical guidance on the upcoming season for many industries and sectors of our economy, from energy producers to commodities markets to agricultural interests to tourism," said Sarah Kapnick, Ph.D., NOAA chief scientist.
The forecasts are being influenced by El Nino, which will drive warmer-than-average temperatures across the northern tier of the United States. La Nina
What is El Nino?
El Nino and its counterpart, La Nina, are created by winds across the Pacific Ocean.
During normal conditions in the Pacific Ocean, trade winds blow west along the equator, taking warm water from South America towards Asia.
During El Nino, trade winds weaken, pushing warm water back east toward the west coast of the United States.
During La Nina, waters off the Pacific coast are colder and contain more nutrients than usual. This environment supports more marine life and attracts more cold-water species, like squid and salmon, to places like the California coast.
NOAA's seasonal outlooks provide the likelihood that temperatures and total precipitation amounts will be above-, near- or below-average and how drought conditions are anticipated to change in the months ahead.
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month. The next update will be available on November 16.
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