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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