AUSTIN (KXAN) — Meteorological winter begins Dec. 1 and continues through the end of February, but we’re already looking at what type of weather we can expect for our coldest season.

We already told you that an El Niño weather pattern has developed and the impacts that usually has for us in Central Texas. But not every El Niño is the same; therefore, we rely on these outlooks and longer-range computer models to give us the specifics unique to each winter.

Thursday morning, NOAA released its first winter forecast, and the expectations are in line with a typical El Niño winter:

Winter precipitation forecast: Bring on the rain

For Central Texas, we should expect a wetter-than-normal winter with odds favoring more rain than average.

Winter precipitation forecast (CPC)
Winter precipitation forecast (CPC)

Winter temperature forecast: Equal chances or Near Normal

Winter temperature forecast (CPC)
Winter temperature forecast (CPC)

The Climate Prediction Center breaks down its temperature outlooks based on the odds of warmer, colder, or near normal. If the forecast is more uncertain, then you end up with roughly equal chances of warmer, colder or near normal (33% chance of each). If the odds lean toward normal, you have higher odds of near normal than warmer or colder.

The forecast for this winter has most of Central Texas with “Equal Chances” for warmer, colder or normal temperatures, but some of our northern counties lean closer to normal.

What is an ‘average’ winter in Central Texas?

Winter is typically our “driest” season in Central Texas with an average of 7.25″ of rain over the three months. Winter also has our driest month of the year, February, with only 1.89″ of rain. February is also the only month we average measurable snow of 0.2″ in Austin.

Out of the 89 days in winter, the season averages 22.8 days with measurable precipitation, which makes it the season with the second most days with measurable rain. This generally means we get measurable rainfall every four days. This means we have more “wet” days in winter than every other season aside from spring, but those wet days add up to less rain in total than any other season.

No surprise — it’s also our coldest season of the year.

Typical winter stats:


  • Average High: 63.9º
  • Average Low: 43.4º
  • Average Rain: 2.72″


  • Average High: 62.5º
  • Average Low: 41.8º
  • Average Rain: 2.64″


  • Average High: 66.5º
  • Average Low: 45.8º
  • Average Rain: 1.89″
  • Average Snow: 0.2″

What about the rest of the United States?

As is typical with El Niño winters, the southern states and parts of the west look wetter than normal. The southeastern United States has even higher odds for a wetter than normal winter than we do in Central Texas. The drier-than-normal weather is confined to the northern states and areas near the Great Lakes.

Winter precipitation forecast (CPC)
Winter precipitation forecast (CPC)

The north and west look warmer than normal, but near normal temperatures or equal chances of above, near, or below normal temperatures for everyone else.

Winter temperature forecast (CPC)
Winter temperature forecast (CPC)

What will happen to the drought?

Generally speaking, we’re expecting drought improvement this winter in Central Texas. While this is good news, the rain this winter isn’t expected to be enough to remove the drought.

Drought forecast (CPC/NOAA)
Drought forecast (CPC/NOAA)

Nationally, only a small part of the Pacific Northwest should see the development of drought where there isn’t any currently. Elsewhere, drought improvement for the southern and midwestern states, with drought persisting in most of the rest of the country where it has developed.