Winter outlooks turn blue

The government’s latest two-week outlook, posted Tuesday afternoon, has odds favoring below-normal temperatures across the entire half the country.

And the accompanying discussion suggests that subsequent forecasts are likely to look frostier. “Temperature probabilities may be too conservative,” it said.

The thinking is that polar air is re-grouping in the source regions, and confidence that it soon will want to head south for at least part of the winter is relatively high, the climate center said.

In addition, the Commodity Weather Group, a forecasting service for agriculture and energy interests, posted an outlook Tuesday afternoon calling for a cold February.

The Washington, D.C., company warned that it might have to shave a few degrees off that forecast.

As John Bolaris noted in his item, cold and volatility doesn’t mean that snowstorms are inevitable -- but it sure doesn’t rule them out.

The Commodity Group said the pattern looks similar to what it saw during the winter of 1996, a volatile one that saw record snow, a wild thaw, and below normal temperatures.

In the meantime, temperatures are forecast to be near or above normal for the next week.