Winter Arrives; Experts Expect a Mild, Dry One Here

Winter arrives today.

The winter solstice officially begins at 10:27 a.m. Thursday in Houston. After the 7:12 a.m. sunrise, we’ll have just 10 hours, 14 minutes and three seconds of daylight -- the shortest amount all year.

Experts say the season's weather will be steered by a La Nina that's in effect. That will likely mean below-average precipitation and above-normal temperatures, according to Nikki Hathaway, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service’s Houston-Galveston office.

That could lead to a repeat of 2016-17. Last winter was Houston’s warmest since reliable record-keeping began in 1889.

Hathaway says if you're wondering if that early snow we already enjoyed earlier this month will boost the chances of a white Christmas this year, the short answer is: no.

She offers regrets if you were hoping for snow, saying the Christmas forecast calls for cooler temperatures and perhaps some surrounding precipitation -- but no freeze and no white stuff.

As for other winter forecasts:

--The Old Farmer’s Almanac, which claims an accuracy rate of nearly 80 percent based on a formula it won’t disclose, predicts a snowy winter for Texas through the middle of February. It believes the state has mostly seen its coldest weather already, however.

--NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, the unit that comes up with the nation’s long-range weather outlooks, calls for a warmer-than-normal winter -- with less-than-usual precipitation.

Also, in England today, crowds are welcoming winter by gathering at fabled Stonehenge, where the ancient rocks are carefully aligned on a sight-line that points to the solstice sunset.

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