The Climate Prediction Center has released an updated outlook for the winter of 2018-2019.
According to the outlook, the months of December, January, and February are likely to be warmer and dryer than average in Montana.
The main contributing factor in the outlook is a weak El Niño that is expected to develop in late fall or early winter.
El Niño is warmer than average water temperatures in the Eastern Pacific.
Generally during an El Niño winter the polar jet stream is pushed north, bringing Montana out of the path of the coldest air and the most frequent storms.
We’ll still see a few good cold snaps and some heavy snow events as usual, but they’ll likely be less frequent and/or less intense.
Current forecasts call for a 70 to 75 percent chance of El Niño forming.
As long as that happens, the outlook should be on track.