The long-term maps for this winter look pretty much the same as last month.

For December-January-February, a major warm region blankets the southern tier of states and extends up into the lower Midwest and Northeast states. Much of the California coastline looks cooler than normal. The Washington and Oregon coastal areas are expected to be near normal to slightly below normal.

Looking at January-February-March, the temperature map remains very similar to the previous outlook. The warm area covers the same regions. A near-normal to slightly cooler-than-normal area now extends from the Northwest across to North Dakota.

By the February-March-April period, the large warm area breaks up. Warmer-than-normal temperatures will remain in the Southwest and Southeast. The California coast is still cooler than normal. The near-normal to slightly cooler-than-normal region spreads from Washington to the Great Lakes. Upper New England looks colder than normal.

South dry, north wet

The December-January-February outlook indicates that it will be drier than normal in the Southwest and Southeast. On the other hand, precipitation will be greater than normal in the Northwest across to New York, and down into the Ohio Valley.

For January-February-March, the dry area is much the same. The wetter-than-normal area shows a gap, with eastern Montana returning to normal. The wet area also dips further south, down to northeastern Louisiana.

The February-March-April forecast shows that it will be drier than normal in the Southwest and Central states. Florida and southern Georgia also will be dry. Western Washington shows greater-than-normal precipitation, as does the eastern Great Lakes area.

Note that once you are within the time period of an outlook, short- and medium-range forecasts and climate observations should be considered.