Winter 2021/22 Outlook: NOAA Climate Prediction Center update released

Weather

(WVNS) — Are you hoping for a snowy winter? A mild winter? Or for the whole season to pass us by entirely? No matter how you feel about the winter season, it’ll soon be upon us. As it turns out, we can get an insight for the winter season now thanks to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center releasing their long range forecast for December 2021 through March 2022.

For our region, many of us will see our first freeze in the next few weeks with some of us flirting with the 32 degree mark September 24, 2021. Portions of Pocahontas, Greenbrier, and Nicholas Counties saw the mid and upper 30s that Friday morning with our first Fall cold snap. Average first freezes for our area range from September 21 through October 31.

In addition to first freezes, average first snowfall dates will be here as well with several of our higher elevations typically seeing their first snowfall in the middle of October. This begs the question, will this year be a typical year or one where winter weather won’t affect us much?

While long range climatic forecasts aren’t great at identifying individual storms or pinpointing exactly when we’ll get winter weather, it does give us a glimpse into whether we’ll be cooler or warmer as well as whether we’ll be drier or wetter compared to seasonal averages. For this reason, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (NOAA CPC) is used more as a guidance than an actual pinpoint forecast like the StormTracker 59 10 Day Forecast.

With that in mind, NOAA CPC shows the two Virginia’s have a 40 percent chance of staying above our average seasonal temperatures marking a mild start for our Winter season from November, December, and January. While colder periods are possible, we’ll typically trend warmer than our seasonal average temperatures overall. For West Virginia as a whole, our average temperature for November is 55°F, December 43°F, and January is 40°F. For Virginia as a whole, November average is 60°F, December 49°F, and January 45°F.

Source: NOAA NWS Climate Prediction Center – https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/lead04/off04_temp.gif


As far as precipitation, we have equal chances of above and below average seasonal precipitation amounts. For West Virginia as a whole, average November typically sees 3.73 inches of precipitation, December 3.27 inches, and January sees 3 inches. For Virginia as a whole, November and December see 3.23 inches of precipitation each and January sees 3.03 inches.

Source: NOAA NWS Climate Prediction Center – https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/lead04/off04_prcp.gif

As far as whether that will mean snow or rain will be up to the temperatures of course but with a mild start, it would be a safe bet to say we’ll see more rain than snow to start off the winter season.

For the back half of winter from January, February, and March of 2022, the outlook remains about the same. The Two Virginias have a 40 percent chance of staying warmer than seasonal average temperatures to end the winter season mild as well

Source: NOAA NWS Climate Prediction Center – https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/lead04/off04_temp.gif

For precipitation during January, February, and March of 2022, most of our region stays within the equal chances range with 30-40 percent chance of more precipitation just off towards our west. For the most part, this means we’ll stay near average in terms of rain and snowfall amounts but with mild temperatures, the trend would suggest more rain than snow.

Source: NOAA NWS Climate Prediction Center – https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/predictions/long_range/lead04/off04_prcp.gif

Of course, with any long range forecast, these values may change getting into winter as we continue to monitor our biggest impact to our winter weather in the Pacific Ocean. Namely having El Niño or La Niña. Current trends suggest the El Niño/La Niña Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has remained neutral since May of 2021.

Source: NWS Climate Predication Center – https://www.cpc.ncep.noaa.gov/products/analysis_monitoring/enso_advisory/figure04.gif

The forecast shows the ENSO to remain on the cool side of neutral through September and November with a 60 percent chance of La Niña for December through January. A La Niña effect typically means a cooler and wetter winter season for the two Virginia’s, or colder with the potential for more snow.

No matter how you slice it, winter will soon be here and regardless of long range forecasts, the Stormtracker 59 team is gearing up to keep you up-to-date with the most accurate forecast of the Two Virginias all winter long. Be sure to follow along with us on our Stormtracker 59 Facebook Page or download the Stormtracker 59 app for Apple or Android for on the go forecasts.



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