The Pacific cooling trend known as La Nina seems to point toward a warmer-than-normal winter for New Jersey, with a chance for wetter weather but no conclusions yet drawn on snowfall.

"We've looked into seasonal snowfall forecasts, it's still something that we're trying to develop since we know there would be a lot of interest in it, but we don't issue that at this point," Mike Halpert, deputy director of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center, said.

Most of the northern contiguous United States should expect cooler winter temperatures because of La Nina, but that does not include the East Coast, according to NOAA.

"The temperature outlook favors warmer than normal conditions across the southern two-thirds of the continental U.S., along the entire East Coast, in Hawaii and in western and northern Alaska," Halpert said.

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As far as overall precipitation, be it rain or snow, the forecasters see equal chances of below-, above-, or near-average amounts here.

That follows a drought season which has mostly impacted the southern and western parts of the country and will extend a bit further still, but which itself is separate from the winter weather outlook.

"The drought outlook product actually covers the period only through January, while the winter outlook does cover another month through February," David Miskus, who leads the Climate Prediction Center's drought outlook team, said.

Drought conditions are the most widespread they have been in the lower 48 states in more than seven years, since September 2013, NOAA said.

What about a sudden frigid spell? Always possible for the Garden State, but the dreaded "polar vortex" does not appear to be a particular threat for the winter of 2020-21.

"There's really no indication that we will see a weak polar vortex and very cold weather," Halpert said.

Patrick Lavery is New Jersey 101.5's afternoon news anchor. Follow him on Twitter @plavery1015 or email

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