NOTE: This forecast was published in October 2011; see our full-length 2012-2013 AccuWeather.com Winter Forecast for the latest information.
Apart from the Southwest, people across the western United States can expect large swings in weather conditions throughout the winter, according to the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team.
December is likely to feature above-normal warmth across much of the entire West. However, from late December into January, the team expects a transition where cold fronts will drop farther south along the West Coast, reaching northern and central California. This transition should bring temperatures back near normal, away from the interior Southwest.
The famed "Pineapple Express," a phenomenon that occurs when a strong, persistent flow of tropical moisture sets up from the Hawaiian Islands to the West Coast of the U.S., could develop for a time this winter. This phenomenon often leads to excessive rain and incredible snow events.
"Last year, California was hit hard when the Pineapple Express set up from Dec. 17-22, producing massive flooding and 13 feet of snow in the Sierra," Pastelok explained. "The Pineapple Express could develop for a period this winter and take aim at northern and central California. That could lead to monster snowfall and heavy valley rain with the risk of flooding and mudslides."
Snowfall is forecast to average out near or slightly above normal in the northern and central Sierra this year, depending on where the Pineapple Express sets up.
Above-normal rain and snowfall are also possible in the northern Rockies in January and in areas farther south and west during February.
Seattle and Portland are forecast to have a fairly typical winter with precipitation averaging out near normal. However, it will be a wet start to the season and frigid end. Near- to slightly above-average snowfall is expected in the Cascades.
Cold air focused over the northern Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes throughout the winter will likely spread farther west into the northern Rockies in January and February, though the worst of the cold for this region will last from February into March.
A shark attack was reported on Wednesday on Ocracoke Island, North Carolina, marking the state's seventh attack this year.
In a state plagued by drought, Golden State residents are advised to play it safe with fireworks this Fourth of July.
After a wet June, July will begin with the threat for gusty thunderstorms and flooding downpours centered on the middle Mississippi Valley.
The mercury soared to a whopping 36.7 degrees Celsius on Wednesday at London Heathrow Airport, setting an all-time July record high for the United Kingdom.
The heat wave that started across Spain and Portugal will spread across much of Europe this week with some of the hottest conditions of the year.
July Fourth will be stormy from the central Plains to the mid-Atlantic, while clear skies are in store for much of the Midwest and New England.
Pitcairn, PA (1997)
4" of rain in 90 minutes causes 10 million dollars in flooding damage.
Grand Forks, ND (2001)
37 degrees, new record low for date.
Flooding continues: Flood waters removed 30 feet of asphalt along highway 160 east of Elk Falls, KS, and roads in eastern Sumner county, KS were stilled closed. Approximately 5 feet of water was flowing over Highway H west of Nevada, MO the morning of the 1st. Stark, KS had 4.5 inches of rain from the night of the 30th into the 1st, and Neodesha, KS had 15 inches of rain over the weekend.