While parts of the U.S. experienced a historic, record cold winter last year, it was unusually warm and dry in the Magic Valley. Are we in for more of the same this year, or will it be a white Christmas?

Idaho's 2014 - 2014 Winter Forecast

The winter outlook for the US. Idaho could experience a warmer than usual winter this year. Image: NOAA

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released their annual Winter Weather Forecast from the Climate Predication Center. According to their long range forecast parts of the south-central and southeastern United States will experience below average temperatures, while above-average temperatures are most likely in Idaho and the western U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and New England.

Drought Conditions Continue

Unfortunately, while the warmer winter outlook doesn't sound bad, it isn't good news for the drought plaguing much of the western United States. The U.S. Seasonal Drought Outlook has been updated and drought is likely to persist or intensify in portions of California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Oregon and Washington state.

The Wild Card: El Niño

Mother Nature still has a wild card in her hand, though. El Niño, an atmospheric phenomenon that affects global weather patterns and pulls additional moisture into the west, has not yet developed. While NOAA predicts that there is a 67% chance that the phenomenon will develop by year's end, El Niño is expected to be weak, offering little help.

So it looks like the Magic Valley will experience another warm and dry winter this year. Of course this is Southern Idaho--and weather can, and does, change sporadically--so don't put away that snow shovel just yet.