The United States will have warmer-than-normal temperatures this winter in most of the country, except for the northern Plains and Northwest states, government weather experts predicted on Tuesday.

As for precipitation, it will be drier than average across the Southwest and the Southeast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration projected in its winter forecast.

The Ohio and Tennessee Valleys, northern Rockies and Hawaii will be wetter than normal this winter, the agency predicted.

NOAA also forecast a weak to moderate La Nina weather phenomenon, which is marked by unusually cold temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific, during the 2006-2007 winter.

"La Nina is here, with a weak to moderate event likely to persist through the winter," said Michael Halpert, head of forecast operations and acting deputy director of NOAA's's Climate Prediction Center.

In the U.S., La Nina usually brings wetter weather to the Pacific Northwest and dryer warmer weather across the South.

"The big concern this winter may be the persistence of drought across large parts of the already parched South. And while December through February is likely to be another milder-than-average winter for much of the country, people should still expect some bouts of winter weather," Halpert added.

NOAA also predicted the following:

* above-average temperatures in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic in response to the long-term warming trend.

* milder-than-average weather in northern Alaska and above-average temperature and precipitation in Hawaii

* across the country, according to NOAA's heating degree day forecast, December through February will be 2.8 percent warmer than the 30-year norm, but still 1.3 percent cooler than last winter.