"We just don't know."

Peter Macdiarmid, Getty Images

That's what long-range weather forecasters are saying about the upcoming winter season.

The National Oceanic and Atmosphereic Administration reports an "indecisive El Nino" in the Equatorial Pacific is just one of the factors contributing to the uncertainty here in New Jersey. Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, says despite recent advances, this year's winter outlook has proven to be quite challenging.

Dave Robinson, the State Climatologist at Rutgers, says the so-called, 'North Atlantic oscillation' or a lot of open water in the Arctic may influence this winter - or not.

He says they are all players. But Robinson prefers to all them, "wild cards" out there, that contribute to the uncertainty about where the climate is headed this winter.

Robinson concedes it would be hard to top this year for mild weather in Jersey. 2012 will wind up as the warmest year on record, both in New Jersey and the nation.

As for the rest of the Nation, Halpert says the temperature outlook favors warmer-than-average temperatrures in much of Texas, northward through the Central and Northern Plains and westward across the Southwest, the Northern Rockies and the Eastern halves of Washington, Oregon and California, as well as the northern two-thirds of Alaska.

He says cooler-than average temperatures are most likely in Hawaii and across most of Florida, excluding the Panhandle. Wetter-than average conditions are favored across the Gulf Coast states, including the northern half of Florida and the southern two-thirds of Georgia.

Deke Arndt, Chief of Climate Monitoring at NOAA, says the main issue facing the US going into this outlook period, at least for many areas outside of the Northeast, stem from persistent heat and drought.