Winter Weather 2017: After Snow in Florida, This Is How Cold It Will Get This Year Around the U.S.

A barn painted with the U.S. flag in a snow-covered field in Kanawha, Iowa. Reuters

Snow fell in some of the deepest parts of the South last week—and over the weekend, even parts of Florida saw snow. Under half an inch of snow was measured in Gonzalez, in Florida's Escambia County, according to the National Weather Service.

Even on Saturday morning, a layer of snow was seen in Santa Rosa County—the northwestern part of Florida—in addition to several other locations on the panhandle, reported The Miami Herald. In parts of Texas last week, 1 or 2 inches of snow were recorded, and one weather service employee reported up to 7 inches in Corpus Christi.

A snow-depth analysis of the South, issued December 10, from the National Operational Hydrologic Remote Sensing Center. NOAA / NOHRSC

But despite the rare snowfall, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration still predicts a warmer and drier winter overall for the Southern states, including Florida and Texas. Just last month, it was the start of a second La Niña winter in a row. La Niña is one of the phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation climate cycle, according to Stephen Baxter, a meteorologist at the NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. The phenomenon typically results in warmer and drier winters in the Southern states and colder and wetter weather over the northern Rockies and northern Plains.

"Certainly a snow event is very unusual, but it certainly doesn't necessarily imply that's what the whole winter's going to be like, and if anything, we would not expect it to continue," Michael Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, told Newsweek. "Actually, if you look at the first week of December, it was quite warm across the South, so this was really just a very unusual cold air mass combined with some precipitation. But again, [it] likely says nothing about the rest of the winter."

While the snow in the South last week doesn't predict what winter will be like, Halpert noted what people can expect this winter. La Niña undoubtedly influences the temperature and precipitation outlooks for this winter, and the forecasts appear similar to last winter's, according to Halpert's blog post for the NOAA.

The precipitation outlook for December through February, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. NOAA-CPC

Across all of the Southern states, a drier winter is expected—with the highest chances of drier weather than normal occurring along the eastern Gulf Coast to the coasts of northern Florida, Georgia and parts of South Carolina. Above-average precipitation is more likely across much of the northern parts of the country—including the northern Rockies and the Great Lakes area, as well as Hawaii and western Alaska.

Warmer temperatures are expected in all of the Southern states. The chances of warmer than normal temperatures extend west through the central Rockies and up to Maine as well. Colder than normal temperatures are expected along the northern tier from the Pacific Northwest to Minnesota and also in southeastern Alaska, although the likelihood is modest since no probabilities in these regions reach 50 percent.

The temperature outlook for December through February, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Climate Prediction Center. NOAA - CPC

But, Halpert stressed, these predictions are based on probabilities. The "outlooks are always done in terms of probabilities," he said. Even if there's a certain percentage chance of going above or below average, there's still a chance "that the less likely outcome will happen from time to time."

It may be frustrating not to be able to guarantee what will happen this winter, but, as Halpert said, "that's the nature of weather and climate—that there really aren't any guarantees."

After snow was reported in several parts of Texas last week, Katie Magee, a meteorologist at the National Weather Service's Houston office, told Newsweek that a single weather event cannot be specifically tied to La Niña. The climate phenomenon is a general trend, she said, which affects seasonal averages and not specific weather events.

Typical wintertime La Niña pattern of the U.S., besides Hawaii. The winter is the second La Niña winter in a row. NOAA

In fact, last week just before the snow arrived, overall weather data showed it was the seventh warmest November on record, according to the NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. Also, precipitation totals for the month were over half an inch below average, making it the 19th driest November on record.