Matt's World Of Weather: Cold Season Outlook

Before setting the foggy crystal ball of forecasting on the table, I want to quickly rehash last season. It was a La Nina winter year of record snowfall totals (some exceeding their averages by a good 6+ inches) and a noticeably cold December and January. The main player in creating these conditions was a stubborn high pressure system sitting over parts of Greenland. To help comprehend it, last year's high pressure circulation was the equivalent of a 300lb offensive lineman who doesn't move laterally and unfortunately very susceptible to letting through blitzing cold fronts. In case you forget eastern Carolina did suffer from a couple of sacks, a couple of sacks of snow.

Odds are that this lineman's contract will not be renewed this season thus making for a comparatively warmer, drier winter. This is often the case in a second year La Nina or a "double dipping La Nina". In the data I've been going over, most second year La Nina years tend to be drier than average and not as chilly. Please keep in mind, the crystal ball is never clear and thus, very foggy.

Like the forecast regarding the summer drought (
) I went back through a large data set to try and find some similarities or analogs to the upcoming season. One variable that makes a winter forecast much harder to pin down is the addition of possible snow events. The actual systems that bring us snow are so small that a forecast this far out makes it nearly impossible to see. It would be like trying to forecast a tornado touchdown four months before it actually happens. In this outlook I am focusing on global circulations that will contribute to temperature and precipitation tendencies for the upcoming winter season... and not specific winter snow events.

On Average (December-February):
Precipitation - 11.13"
Temperature - 44.4° (Average of the month's highs and lows)

Second Year La Nina's:

Precipitation - 3 of the 5 "Second year La Nina's" have been drier than average. The driest was in 1951 at only 6.08" of total precipitation (~5 inches below average).

Temperatures - 4 of the 5 "Second year La Nina's" have been warmer than average. The warmest was in 1956 at 49° (5° above average).

These values are very typical for any La Nina year, but more so for one that is dipping in for seconds. The Southeast tends to be warmer and drier than average because of the shifting jet stream.

If you have any questions or want to see the data set, please feel free to comment. Also, keep in mind that this is not a snow forecast. A snow forecast can only be made a couple weeks in advance of the event. Should this season follow the law of averages, the electricity bill will hopefully look much better than last year's.

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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Formerly O.L.I. Location: ENC on Oct 17, 2011 at 11:45 AM
    I don't consider myself an 'old timer' yet, but I have noticed a considerably decrease in the amount of acorns and Hickory Nuts falling this time of year. Last year, had bunches and bunches. He could be right. I will also look up the N.C. Woolly Worm prediction done in Boone, N.C.; sometimes that's more accurate. Also, Mrs. Blum's Almanac can be read online, but only for the current month. Best idea, prepare for the worst and be happy if the worst doesn't happen. Happy Autumn!
  • by Go BOLDLY Location: Jacksonville on Oct 16, 2011 at 08:14 AM
    C'mon Matt! Step up boy! I'll do it; again! It "may get cold". Heaters will need to be used at times. Windows will most likely be openable at times. We WILL get precipitation. Could be white most will be clear. It will not be needed to retire the flops as they always work well if you have forgotten something in the car. The days will all be sunny. It will be out and it is the yellow ball in the sky. Some days you will not be able to see the color for clouds. Last up after the cold season: Flowers will re bloom. Don't forget to tip the meteorologists we work for gratuities. GOOD DAY, Mike
  • by Jim Howard Location: WITN on Oct 16, 2011 at 06:29 AM
    Good post Matt. I agree with the 2nd season La Nina pattern. Without a strong southern jet, it'll be tough to get some of those Gulf of Mexico storms to form and roll up the east coast as powerful Nor'easters. I'm always the eternal optimist when it comes to snow just takes one.
    • reply
      by Mike on Oct 16, 2011 at 08:17 AM in reply to Jim Howard
      Sooo Jim, Then you are saying the islanders might just get to use H12, a "few" times before the next tourist season????
  • by fedup Location: kinston on Oct 16, 2011 at 04:48 AM
    electric rates have gone up!!even if we have a mild winter,we'll pay thru the nose.paying city of kinston rates suck!!!
    • reply
      by Tarzan on Oct 16, 2011 at 03:57 PM in reply to fedup
      Roads lead out of town, try one.

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