Weather Forecast: 2012 To Start Warm In East, Cool In West

12/15/2011 04:46 pm ET

WASHINGTON -- Federal weather forecasters are predicting that the first three months of the new year will start off warmer than normal in the East, but cooler than usual out West.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that January will be toastier than normal, with most states east of the Rockies getting warmer weather, except for New England.

Forecasters say the southernmost parts of the nation should be drier than normal, including drought-struck Texas. But the Northwest and Great Lakes states are likely to be wetter than normal.

Meteorologists are basing much of their forecast on a continuing moderate La Nina weather oscillation. The flip side of the El Nino, La Nina is a cooling of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that influences weather worldwide.