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National Weather Service Chief Forecaster Jon Gottschalck says Missouri is along a borderline – making winter weather predictions a bit more challenging.

“For example, if you’re further south in Texas, we have a much stronger confidence in warmer conditions and toward the Pacific Northwest and northern Plains, it’s colder. So you guys are kind of in the middle ground where there’s more uncertainty,” says Gottschalck.

Warmer-than-normal conditions are expected in the southern U.S., along the East Coast, across Hawaii and in western and northern Alaska. Below-average temperatures are predicted in the northern U.S., Pacific Northwest and in southeastern Alaska. The rest of the country, including Missouri, falls into the “equal chance” category, which means they have an equal change for above -, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation because there is not a strong enough climate signal in these areas to shift the odds.

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However, Gottschalck says Missourians should expect similar levels of heating use this winter compared to last winter. He expects the first half of winter to include above normal temps in southern Missouri and the second half to have below normal temps in northern Missouri. Most of the state is expected to have an increase in precipitation this winter, especially during the last half of winter.

“We don’t expect too much in the way of a switch there, an increase or a decrease,” says Gottschalck. “It would tend to be less heating degree days earlier on and potentially more heating degree days later on in the winter.”

Gottschalck suggests preparing for strong winter weather in your home and vehicle by having plenty of food, warm clothing, water, batteries, ice melt, and shovels.

Winter officially begins on December 21.