* Northeast temperatures slightly higher-than-normal
* Northeast Dec. weather to start out cold, milder in Jan.
* Northwest to see worst of winter weather
(Updates with average normal temperatures between Dec-Feb in major U.S. East Coast cities 4th graf.)
By Jeanine Prezioso
NEW YORK, Aug 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. East Coast will be granted a reprieve from the tremendous snowfall that caused 2009's winter to be dubbed "snowmaggedon," meteorologist Joe Bastardi of AccuWeather.com said in a early forecast for winter 2010/2011 released on Tuesday.
The forecast is for Nov. 15-March 15.
Temperatures are expected to be 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit (0.2-0.6 degree Celsius) -- slightly higher-than-normal for Boston, Washington, D.C. and New York City, he predicted.
Temperatures in New York average 34.7 degrees Fahrenheit between December and February, according to AccuWeather.com forecasters. In Washington, D.C., the average normal temperature is 37.5 degrees Fahrenheit and in Boston the average is 31.8 degrees Fahrenheit for the same time period.
"You'll have near-normal snowfall along the (Interstate 95) corridor," AccuWeather's long-range meteorologist told Reuters.
The U.S. northeast is the largest heating oil market in the world.
Winter will get off to a fast start in December but then "thaw out" across much of the eastern and central U.S. by January, he said.
Cold air masses of the U.S. Northwest and Central Plains colliding with warmer air of the South will set the stage for a battleground between warm and cold weather in the Northeast, he added.
The worst winter weather will be relegated to the U.S. Northwest.
"The rapid cooling of the globe with the La Nina will produce severe cold for Alaska and northwest Canada, and in fact the Canadian winter will be as harsh as last year's was gentle," Bastardi said.
The northwestern and north central U.S. can expect "well above normal snowfalls" this winter.
Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis, Detroit and Cleveland are also expected to get above-average snowfall.
Conditions in southern California, the Southwest, Mid-Atlantic and Texas are expected to be warmer and drier than normal, creating a "tinderbox" effect for parts of California by spring and fall next year, he added.
Bastardi said he has not changed his 2010 Atlantic Basin hurricane forecast which called for 18-21 named storms. (Editing by Marguerita Choy) (firstname.lastname@example.org; Reuters Messaging: email@example.com; 646-223-6241))