The National Weather Service is predicting a warmer than usual winter with less than normal snowfall due to a weak El Nino pattern over western Montana.

Senior Forecaster Bob Nester issued the forecast on Monday.

“This winter the Climate Prediction Center is forecasting for a weak El Nino pattern to develop across the Pacific,” said Nester. “That translates to warmer than normal temperatures on average, and with that we can expect a lower than normal snow pack. One of my big talking points for this winter is that the last two winters have been pretty harsh, pretty severe with lots of snow in the top 10 especially here in Missoula. This year’s going to be different. We’re expecting less than normal snow fall, mainly because of the above normal temperatures throughout the course of the winter.”

Nester said some of the moisture this winter may not come in the form of snow.

“We’ve had years that have had above normal precipitation but below normal snow fall because the temperatures have been above normal,” he said. “Our greatest confidence for this winter is lighter than normal snow pack, which is a big difference from the last two winters which has had above normal snowpack which has impacted our spring runoff.”

Nester said there will probably below normal snow pack for the entire western half of the United States.