We can have record-setting blizzards and global warming at the same time. NOAA scientists explain climate variability, how it influenced our weather this winter, and how it differs from climate change.

Mike Halpert from the Climate Prediction Center grades the winter forecast. Temperature outlooks fared quite well, but precipitation forecasts were not that great. The mediocre precipitation scores were partly because forecasts were counting on tropical atmospheric responses to El Niño, which didn’t emerge until late in the season.

After some very cold weather this month, folks are likely wondering if the early chill is a harbinger of things to come this winter. "Not necessarily," explains Mike Halpert of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in this week's ENSO blog post.

How does El Niño affect U.S. winter temperature and precipitation?