We Talked To A Meteorologist About What's In Store This Winter
There are so many benefits to getting out into nature, from reduced stress to improved immunity. But when you live somewhere with harsh winters, it can feel daunting to bundle up and hit the trails. The best way to prepare? Plan accordingly. So, we spoke with a meteorologist on what to expect around the United States this winter.
What a meteorologist is predicting for the U.S.
According to meteorologist Heather Waldman, the U.S. is experiencing a La Niña pattern, which in simple terms means there's a section of the eastern Pacific Ocean that's a little cooler than normal. "What this pattern means for the country as a whole is the jet stream is going to be more amplified, more active," she tells mbg. "There's the potential for some bigger storms."
Here's a bit on what each region can expect.
In the Northeast, and much of the eastern U.S. as a whole, "there's the potential for milder-than-normal conditions," Waldman says, "but that doesn't necessarily mean less snow—the jet stream is going to be more active, which means more frequent storms." The Farmer's Almanac and the National Weather Service also both note that much of the north will experience typical if not slightly cooler temps and above-average precipitation.
Much of the South, from the west to the east, can expect warmer-than-normal conditions, with occasional bursts of cold and precipitation. But for the most part, the season will be relatively mild. Folks in states along the Gulf Coast are in for a treat if they're not big on the cold; it shouldn't be an issue this year.
States in the Midwest can expect cold days and average to above-average snowfall, according to the Farmer's Almanac. And according to the National Weather Service, it might be colder than normal, particularly as you move farther North, such as in the Dakotas.
The Pacific Northwest:
That chilly and wet pattern holds true in the Pacific Northwest as well, with Waldman explaining the La Niña pattern is going to bring with it some storms that would typically hit farther to the south. From Northern California, up through Oregon and Washington, prepare for a wet season.
And for the Southwest, things are looking warm and dry—which isn't exactly a great thing. As the National Weather Service reports, nearly half of the continental U.S. is experiencing a drought right now. "This is typically their wet season," Waldman adds, "but it appears they're going to stay on the dry side, so the wildfire risk is going to continue for that region deeper into the year than what would be normal."
How to prepare.
Wherever you are, if you want to get outside this winter, it's important to be prepared. If you're in the South, congrats; we're all jealous. Otherwise, knowing that this is going to be a wetter season, staying dry outside should be top of mind. Cold and wet is a recipe for getting sick, so invest in some water-repelling outerwear, avoid cotton, and try not to work up a sweat if you're out in the cold. For more cold-weather tips, you can check out our guide to staying warm this winter.
If there's anything 2020 has taught us, it's to expect the unexpected—but it still never hurts to think ahead. Getting outside is such an important part of self-care, and while it might be too cold for earthing, you can still lace up your boots and enjoy your one-on-one time with Mother Nature.
Sarah Regan is a Spirituality & Relationships Editor, a registered yoga instructor, and an avid astrologer and tarot reader. She received her bachelor's in broadcasting and mass communication from State University of New York at Oswego, and lives in Buffalo, New York.