South Dakota State University Extension State Climatologist Dennis Todey said earlier outlooks had been projecting about a 60 percent chance of above average temperatures, compared to about 40 percent chance of below average.
The Climate Prediction Center, a sister organization of the National Weather Service, issued its latest outlook on Thursday, Oct. 20.
"Previous outlooks have been talking about winter probabilities as ?warmer than average' being the most likely across South Dakota," Todey said. "The official outlooks right now are saying nearly 50-50 chance of below and above average. Our risk is a little bit higher now than it was for a cold winter."
Todey said a colder winter would have an impact on usage of heating fuel and other energy sources.
"This is increasing our risk of some higher energy prices by having a near-average or cooler-than-average winter," Todey said. "The farther west you go in the state, the better chances there are still existing for a warmer-than-average winter. The eastern part of the state is right near that 50-50 line of whether we're looking at warmer than average."
Todey said we are not in an El Ni�o/La Ni�a weather pattern currently, which makes it more difficult to predict climate. An El Ni�o pattern typically causes warmer winters in South Dakota.
He added that sea surface temperatures in the North Pacific and some atmospheric oscillations across North America may be helping shape the current weather patterns.