WRAL WeatherCenter Blog

NOAA's Winter Outlook

Posted October 21, 2009 10:32 a.m. EDT

As with all long-range seasonal forecasts, the recently issued winter outlook from the National Weather Service can only provide a general overview of how the winter season may work out across the United States, with few of the specifics regarding wintry precipitation that we'd all like to know about. Unfortunately, while the science of climate forecasting does allow for some skill with climatological outlooks, it does not allow for meaningful day to day or week to week forecasts, or assessments of likely snow and ice amounts, as there are simply too many short-term influences involved that can not be foreseen more than a few days to a couple of weeks in advance.

Nonetheless, by following trends in recent years and decades, and using the ability to predict with some success the evolution of the El Nino Southern Oscillation system, which is one of the principal influences leading to this year's temperature and precipitation outlooks. For North Carolina, the general idea is for precipitation with this year's El Nino impact to be near normal (or to have an equal chance at being near, above or below normal) while our temperatures may tend to run below normal for the season. You can see the maps, and a brief overview of how the rest of the country may be affected, at the press release in the attached link.