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Winter: Mild start?

Outlooks painting much of the nation warm for December.

Two brushes with snow and a January-like cold plunge into the heart of the nation were the perfect accompaniment last month to all those scary winter outlooks.

Those predictions could well end up being on the money, but on a day when it appeared that even the sun wanted to stay in bed, the meteorological community offered at least a few brighter rays for the winter-phobes out there.

Right now the computer models and their interpreters are seeing a generally mild start to the meteorological winter, which began officially on Monday.

(The astronomical winter is three weeks away, but the world weather community breaks the seasons into four, tidy three-month increments.)

The two-week outlook issued by the Climate Prediction Center this afternoon sees the odds favoring above-normal temperatures just about everywhere but Florida, which is celebrating yet another season without a hurricane hit.

The monthly forecast, updated on Sunday, also has quite a warm look for most of the contiguous United States.

In its daily update, the Commodity Weather Group noted that a "warm prevailing pattern" is evident in the 11-15-day period and that the models are arguing against any serious cold the rest of the month.

AccuWeather has no snow in its December forecast for Philadelphia, and only one day in which the temperature fails to reach 40 between tomorrow and Christmas.

The climate center says the Arctic air in Canada will be sliding east, rather than diving south, at least for the first part of the month.

Skepticism of these longer-range outlooks is well-merited, and we'll caution that the computers be in an entirely different mood.