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Forecasters predict warmer winter for region – but not necessarily less snow

Scattered snow and freezing temperatures arrived across Western New York this morning – a few days earlier than average for the region.

But don't be alarmed if you loathe a long Buffalo winter.

Forecasters said Thursday that there's a 33 percent to 40 percent chance that this winter will be warmer than average across the Buffalo Niagara region.

The federal Climate Prediction Center's winter outlook for December to February predicts no areas in the 50 states will see below-average conditions. The center forecasts above-average temperatures across the northern tier of the country and in the western states as well as Alaska and Hawaii.

“We expect El Niño to be in place in late fall to early winter,” said Mike Halpert, the Climate Prediction Center's deputy director. “Although a weak El Niño is expected, it may still influence the winter season by bringing wetter conditions across the southern United States, and warmer, drier conditions to parts of the north.”

There's a caveat for Western New York: a warmer winter doesn't necessarily correspond to less snow.

Warmer than average temperatures may delay, or even prevent, Lake Erie's annual freeze, which typically happens by mid to late January.

Because of that, forecasters said there could be increased chances for late-season lake-effect snows.

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