As the saying goes for Missouri, “Don’t like the weather? Wait just a minute.” This is the time of year when temperatures can rise and plummet 50 degrees or more in the matter of a day, when people know dressing in layers is a wise choice.

However, be that as it may, the National Weather Service is saying that because of La Niña, the next few months should be warmer and drier than average. Forecasters don’t yet know what winter will bring, but should have an idea in the coming week.

National Weather Service meteoroligist George Amis in Pleasant Hill says whether January brings mild conditions, snow or ice depends on the Arctic Oscillation, which is difficult to predict. If the oscillation has a negative effect, like it did last year, extreme cold and blizzard conditions can be expected. If it’s positive, a mild winter is on the way, but with the possibility of more than average ice storms.

La Niña is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, unlike El Niño which is associated with warmer than normal water temperatures. Both of these climate phenomena, which typically occur every two to five years, influence weather patterns throughout the world and often lead to extreme weather events. Last winter’s El Niño contributed to record-breaking rain and snowfall leading to severe flooding in some parts of the country, with record heat and drought in other parts of the country.

Amis says after having two harsh winters in a row — in 2009 and 2010 — it would be unusually rare to have a third. But, there is a chance, and the National Weather Service says now is a good time for people to review the outlook and begin preparing for what winter may have in store.

AUDIO: Jessica Machetta reports [Mp3, 1:21 min.]