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Snow in late March is unusual

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As a meteorologist, I hear the question “what’s up with this weird weather?” just about year-round. Most of the time, the weather isn’t so weird. In fact, it’s pretty typical of the season, but people have short memories and preconceived, Hollywood-influenced notions of normal when it comes to meteorology. That being said, if we see snow on Wednesday, well… that will be a little weird.

As of this writing (Monday afternoon), Wednesday’s chance for snow is not set in stone. One computer model keeps the temperature above 40 degrees, which means we will only see a cold rain. One has an early morning mix of snow and rain switching over to all rain as the day progresses. One has more snow than rain through the day. Without agreement in the models, confidence in the forecast is relatively low for now.

One thing is for certain: if it snows, the effects will be short lived. With above freezing temperatures leading up to the event and expected the day after, accumulation is unlikely – unless we see heavy bursts of snow. Of course, bridges and overpasses always require extra caution when frozen precipitation is possible.

So, how unusual is snow this late in the season? I used the North Carolina Climate Office’s Winter Storm Database to search for winter storms that happened after March 15 as far back as 1959. I found seven. Seven storms in late March over the last 58 years make the event abnormal, but not unheard of. Of those seven in the Triangle, three resulted in a trace of snow (2014, 2011, and 1981), one resulted in up to a half inch (2005), and three had amounts ranging from two to over seven inches (1983, 1972, and 1971).

Another question I’m often asked is whether El Nino or La Nina is causing the strange weather, so I looked at the historical records for the seven years in question to see if there seemed to be a link. I found none. Those storms happened during El Nino, La Nina, and neutral events. While there may be a link to some other cyclical phenomenon that I have not checked, a late-March storm may be one of those things that just happens occasionally.

1983 winter storm

Snowfall totals for the March 24-25, 1983 winter storm. Map courtesy of North Carolina Climate Office.

Weather Blog

NASA needs your help

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When was the first time you remember being told that those puffy little clouds on otherwise sunny days are called cumulus clouds? Do you recall the names of other types of clouds? It may be time to brush up, put your cloud knowledge to use, and in the process, help NASA.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration: Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment (NASA GLOBE) Clouds: Spring Cloud Observations Data Challenge starts Thursday, March 15, and runs through April 15.

cloudy beach

What kind of clouds are those? Is the sky completely covered by clouds? Brush up on your skills and and answer these questions for NASA. Photo credit: Niki Morock

The challenge is open to educators, students, and the general public, which means anyone can participate! The only technology required is access to the GLOBE Program’s data entry options online or the GLOBE Observer App, which is free in the App Store. The rest depends on some basic knowledge of clouds, your own eyes and an unobstructed view of the sky.

I downloaded the GLOBE Observer App today. It was free and easy to set up. You only need five to ten minutes to register and read the instructions once you are logged in. There are step-by-step directions on how to make an observation available on the GLOBE website here.

By participating as a citizen scientist, you are helping “scientists better understand satellite data of our atmosphere.” In other words, you are providing ground evidence to corroborate what the satellite appears to be seeing.

Why is it needed? Satellites see more than just clouds. For example, they can see ice and snow on the surface and smoke. Sometimes, those things look very different from clouds and sometimes they look similar. By collecting data from ground-level observers, scientists add to their understanding of how the satellite sees the clouds and the world below them. The better that understanding is, the better our now-casting and forecasting becomes. The improved knowledge will also help tweak the technology as we put more satellites into orbit.

Don’t worry if you don’t remember the difference between a cirrus cloud and a cumulonimbus cloud. There are tutorials on the GLOBE site, as well as tips and tricks for making a good cloud and sky observation. You don’t need a meteorology degree to be a cloud observer.

Personally, I will do what I can to participate, but in my day-to-day routine, most of my sky views are obstructed. I work in downtown Wake Forest and live on a wooded lot. Still, if the GLOBE Observer app alerts me that a satellite is about to fly over and I am somewhere with a good view of the sky, I will definitely submit an observation. Every little bit of additional, accurate data helps.

Weather Blog

Are you ready for severe weather?

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This week is North Carolina’s Severe Weather Preparedness Week. We observe it every year at the beginning of climatological spring – usually during the first full week of March.

To be considered severe, a thunderstorm must have at least one of the following: winds in excess of 58 miles per hour, hail at least one inch in diameter, or a tornado. Notice lightning and heavy rain are not listed as requirements for a storm to be categorized as severe, although they typically occur with severe thunderstorms. A storm without any of those three qualifiers is just a storm. It may be a strong storm, but it’s not defined as severe.

During Severe Weather Preparedness Week, local meteorologists will explain different aspects of severe weather and they will include floods and lightning because they can produce serious damage. This may be cause for confusion for some people. I often have friends report heavy rain when I ask for severe storm reports on my social media pages. Technically, heavy rain is not worthy of a storm report, unless of course, it’s causing flooding and washing out roadways or creating mudslides. In those cases, it may not make a storm technically severe by this definition, but as a threat to life and property, it becomes noteworthy.

Lightning is dangerous and should be taken seriously. It is a requirement for thunderstorms because you can’t have thunder without lightning. Occasionally, we see storms with copious amounts of cloud-to-ground lightning, and although it does not make a storm severe, it makes it a greater danger to life and property. The more cloud-to-ground strikes in a storm, the higher the risk of a person, a tree, or a home being struck. Remember if you are close enough to hear thunder, you are close enough to be struck by lightning – even if you can’t see the cloud.

April 16, 2011 map

National Weather Service Raleigh Office summary map of the April 16, 2011 tornado outbreak across North Carolina

Tornadoes can happen any time of year, but spring, summer and fall are the most likely times they occur across most of the United States. April tends to be the month North Carolina sees the most tornadoes with May and September close behind. I shy away from using the phrase “tornado season” these days because it seems to lull people into a false sense of security at other times of the year. If we have warm, moist air ahead of a cooler, drier front with the right “other” ingredients in place, we could see tornadoes in December and January – and we have.

Beyond understanding the terminology of storms and drilling (literally or imaginatively) during the state-wide tornado drill on Wednesday morning at 9:30, there are other things you can do to prepare.  Here are a few that come to mind:

  1. Be situationally aware. I wrote about the idea last year at this time. Here’s the link in case you missed it.
  2. Walk around your yard (if you have one) and really look at your trees and your home. Do you see any signs of weakness? If so, you should be proactive rather than waiting for the worst to happen and being forced to be reactive.
  3. Know and understand your insurance policies. Do you have coverage for weather damage? If so, what exactly is covered? Do you have an inventory of what is in your home in case it needs to be replaced?
  4. Have a preparedness kit. While this is something meteorologists really harp on during hurricane season, if we have a tornado outbreak or a winter storm with massive power outages, it could prove useful then, too.
  5. Most importantly, have a reliable way to receive weather alerts that could include advisories, watches, and warnings. A NOAA weather radio with battery backup is still the most reliable source available. You can also check to make sure your mobile phone can receive alerts and that it is actually set to receive alerts. Check the settings! When you receive an alert, heed it. Know what it means and what your next steps are.
Weather Blog

Be a good scientist.

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From the “things you won’t see on tonight’s six o’clock news” category… Storms don’t have to be worse for their damage to be worse.

In a recently posted article to the American Meteorological Society’s journals section of its website titled “Continental United States Hurricane Landfall Frequency and Associated Damage: Observations and Future Risks,” study authors Philip J. Klotzbach, Steven G. Bowen, Roger Pielke, Jr., and Michael Bell scrutinized past hurricanes and came to what some people may claim is a surprising conclusion:

“While United States landfalling hurricane frequency or intensity shows no significant trend since 1900, growth in coastal population and wealth have led to increasing hurricane-related damage along the United States coastline.”

In other words, there is no trend that storms are getting bigger, worse, or more frequent despite what you might have heard on TV or read on social media.

Harvey image

Credits: NASA/NOAA GOES Project

Some people might claim that at least one of the authors (Pielke, Jr.) should be discredited since, in the past, people who have disagreed with him have attempted to besmirch his reputation by calling him a “climate denier.”

Personally, I think it’s a positive step forward that the AMS is publishing their paper and has released a preliminary version on its site.

I sit on the sidelines of the battle over whether man-made climate change is “settled science.” I read studies and articles from both sides. I think critically about what I read, and I don’t take anything at face value. I ask questions and look for answers down rabbit holes. I also pay attention to the unfortunate fallout – when credible scientists suffer public smear campaigns and career-path roadblocks – all because they are not willing to submit to the so-called consensus and continue to do research that shows that the science isn’t settled.

Science should never be settled. If it were, the earth would still be flat. The sun would revolve around us. There would be nothing smaller than an atom. Gravity would be some god’s way of holding us down… Okay. Maybe that last one was more myth than science, but you get my point.

I’ve written before about how politicizing science causes more damage than good. It causes outsiders to distrust science as a whole, especially when the in-fighting among academics and popular scientists that have suddenly become TV personalities play out on twitter and national media networks. How can you be in search of truth and knowledge if you dismiss anyone who disagrees with what you think you know?

To be a good scientist is to have an open-mind and be willing to entertain more ideas than just the popular ones. A good scientist isn’t gullible or naïve. A good scientist is thoughtful, asks questions, and earnestly searches for answers – even if those answers disprove his own hypotheses. My challenge to all scientists is to strive to be good scientists.

Weather Blog

Drought risk should be considered at all times

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Despite the moist air mass that’s been in place all week, the Triangle really hasn’t had that much rain. Today’s updated United States Drought Monitor map shows good bit of central North Carolina is still abnormally dry. The story is much different for the western side of our state. The mountains have seen a greater amount of rain and are no longer experiencing dry conditions. If the trend continues, next week could see the rest of N.C. removed from the drought map.

USDM map

The United States Drought Monitor map for the week of February 15, 2018, shows improvement across North Carolina over the previous week’s map.

North Carolina’s story is very different from places like California and Cape Town, South Africa, which was in the news recently for having run out of water. Those locations have a stronger tendency toward long periods of dry conditions. Both regions should be in a constant state of conservation – even during wetter periods – in order to be prepared for times of extended drought. It’s up to their populations and their elected leaders to make plans and decisions to mitigate their risk for extreme periods of little to no rainfall.

While N.C. does not often suffer long-term drought conditions, it does happen. The years 1998-2002 brought extended drought across the state. During the peak of that episode, nearly 250 municipalities and communities “had implemented voluntary, mandatory, or emergency conservation procedures.” (See page 63 of this report by the United States Geological Survey.)

Drought can be difficult to predict, but there are certain situations that can lead to long, dry spells. The effects of El Nino/La Nina in certain regions can trigger drought. Persistent high pressure over an area that typically has a more active weather pattern can limit rainfall to unusually low amounts. Around here, summer is a drier season for us, and if you add persistent high pressure to the mix, our area easily slips into the abnormally dry category, or worse.

When I read news articles about towns running out of water, I often wonder if the situation was avoidable. Is it possible that by practicing water conservation at all times, people could avoid those dire situations, or at least mitigate the risk? For the most part, I think it is possible, but the difficulty lies in getting people to change their behavior without the immediate threat of dreadful consequences.

There are ways to conserve water voluntarily that shouldn’t cramp our style too much. The use of rain barrels for home gardening and lawn watering is one example. By harvesting the rain that falls – when it does fall – for use outside, we can put less strain on community water resources and our own wallets. Along the same lines, making sure that outdoor plants are appropriate for our climate and drought resistant also reduces the need for water usage.

Inside, small changes can make a big difference over the course of a year. For example, don’t let the water run while you’re brushing your teeth; turn it off while the toothbrush is in your mouth. Only run the washer and dishwasher when you have full loads. Repair toilets that run when they shouldn’t. Fix drippy faucets. These things really should be common sense, but it is amazing how easily people get lax about them when we are not in a drought.

Changes can be made on the community level, too. Publicly-owned property can benefit from rain barrels and water cisterns for landscaping as much as a small house can. Restroom sinks with automatic off/on sensors are another good tool. By implementing conservation efforts in a public way, governments can lead by example.

I’ll admit there will always be people who wait until conservation is mandatory before changing their habits. Those people will probably revert to their old ways when the mandate is lifted, too. Not everyone is a team player. But if the rest of us greatly outnumber them, I think we can make a difference in the long run, and maybe we won’t get to the point where conservation efforts need to be mandated in case of emergency because we will avoid the emergency altogether.

Weather Blog

Thoughts of warmer days lead to garden planning

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If it seems like we’ve had an unusual winter so far, it’s true. According to the North Carolina Climate Office’s blog post, “A Cold, Snowy January Brings Drought Relief,” we just survived “the 11th– coolest January on record dating back to 1895, and the coldest since 1988.” I speak for most of my friends when I say that I’m happy that frigid month is over.

Normal high temperatures for this time of year in the Triangle are in the low-to-mid 50s: normal lows are in the lower 30s. We’re creeping back toward normal-to-above normal as a trend, and it looks like the worst of the unusual cold may be over. However, it is still early February, so there will still be cold days, and our potential for winter weather doesn’t really end until mid-to-late March. My point is that it looks like the trend will be for the normal or warmer-than-normal days to outnumber the unusually cold days from this point forward as we move toward spring.

As I happily look ahead to warming temperatures, I have a small garden plot on my mind.

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know I bought my first house last fall. One of the many reasons I fell in love with the little ranch was the fact that it had a garden in the yard, producing tomatoes, peppers, and mint. What an exciting idea – an opportunity to grow my own produce the way my grandparents did when I was growing up! Every time I look at the plot, it reminds me of my Papop. Despite those happy memories, I admit that I have very little idea of what I’m doing out there. I have a lot to learn.

My helpful neighbor is an avid gardener, and she loaned me her favorite book on the subject. As I’m reading, it has me thinking about the weather and our climate – of course! This week, my goal is to decide what I want to plant. Part of me would like to plant some unusual seeds so that my garden isn’t exactly like everyone else’s. Unfortunately, every interesting plant I look up doesn’t grow in our zone. No wonder no one around here grows them. Yes, I’m learning about plant hardiness zones, and wondering how many people know that they have changed within the last decade and will probably change again in the next one.

Your zone may be higher than you think.

An article on Rodale’s Organic Life website explains that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) updated its Hardiness Zone Map in 2012. The map is based on the 30-year average of the coldest days of the year for each area. Those averages are calculated and tracked by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and are the same climatology that meteorologists use when talking about “normal” temperatures and precipitation. Our current 30-year period is 1981-2010, so that is what the new USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map is based upon.

According to the USDA map, my neighborhood in eastern Wake County is in zone 7b, but very close to 8a. Plants that do well in either zone should be fine in my garden.

The Arbor Day Foundation has taken zone mapping a step further and created one just for trees – their primary focus. Unlike most garden plants, trees will be around for decades, so the future climate should be considered when deciding what kind of tree will thrive in your area. According to the Arbor Day map, most of our area is solidly in zone eight.

Larger operations need to plan for future plant hardiness zones.

Reading about hardiness zones has reminded me of a local American Meteorological Society chapter meeting at the State Climate Office two years ago. Then-State Climatologist Ryan Boyles introduced us to the PINEMAP Decision Support System – a tool for forestry professionals and tree farmers to use in determining what trees to plant both now and in future decades. Large scale operations should be thinking well beyond the next ten years if they want to continue to produce strong results.

The tool is specifically geared toward planted pine forest owners, and provides some interesting predictions based on current data and climate research. Its interactive map can let you see how the plant zones may change in coming decades if the climate changes according to the models’ predictions. It is truly meant to help tree farmers adapt and thrive, which is a fantastic use of climate prediction models.

Personally, I’m not planting any more pine trees in my yard because I have enough to supply pine straw to a small town for years. Still, I found the PINEMAP DSS fascinating. For my garden though, I’ll look at the current forecast trends, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map, and other local information to decide what to plant in my little garden. Who knows? Maybe I will find something unique to add to the tomatoes, peppers, and mint that the previous owners produced last year. I am open to suggestions.

Weather Blog

Why does I-95 seem important to NC weather?

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I’ve been asked this question a few times: Why does it always seem like storms are going east of I-95, west of I-95, or right along I-95 in North Carolina? Is it just a convenient landmark that most people recognize, or is there something else to it?

As recognizable as I-95 is, the answer is that there’s more to it. I’ll explain, although I am running the risk of over-simplifying it here.

If you look at a road map of North Carolina and a relief map of North Carolina next to it, you will see that I-95 basically runs along the border between the state’s coastal plain and the piedmont – two of the three major geographic regions of the state.

Each region has its own characteristics that can affect the weather and climate including elevation, soil types, and available moisture. The mountains’ higher elevations tend to get more snow. The piedmont tends to have greater variations in weather through the year. The coastal plain has more available moisture and more moderate temperatures with the ocean on its eastern edge.

Often when storms are moving across the state from west to east, they lose some of their energy as they cross the mountains. Depending on many factors, a storm might reorganize as it reaches the piedmont, or it may not regain its former glory until it hits the coastal plain.

On the flip side, if a hurricane or other coastal storm is approaching from the Atlantic side of the state, it may only affect the coastal plain if it stays far enough out to sea. If it moves closer to shore, the piedmont might be affected, but in a different way than the coastal plain. Take, for example, our typical winter coastal storms that move up the Atlantic coast to become Nor’easters. If the storm stays far enough off shore, the coast may just see rain. If it moves right up the coast line and cold air is in place over the piedmont, we in the Triangle may see snow or a wintry mix. Sometimes the mountains get snow from those systems and sometimes they don’t. It depends on the size of the storm and its proximity to shore, among other things.

During the winter, the ocean tends to moderate the temperature near the coast by keeping it warmer because large bodies of water take longer to lose their heat than the drier air in the atmosphere. (They also take longer to gain heat once the weather starts to warm back up.) The warmer ocean waters affect the air nearby and keep temperatures at the coast milder than they are inland.

Elevation and soil types can also play a role in the weather, but I will save those topics for future blog posts.

In the meantime, the next time you hear a meteorologist say, “along or east of the I-95 corridor,” you will know why.

road map of NC

Road map of North Carolina, credit:

Weather Blog

Models need (and will get) improvement

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Two news stories about forecasting models caught my eye this week. The first dealt with a shortfall in the climate models and the second was good news about continuing improvements in our daily forecasting models.

I’ve written before about potential problems with initial data and assumptions in climate forecasting models – the ones used by climatologists to predict our global conditions decades in the future. Like it or not, they are not perfect.

NASA climate map

Credit: NASA, 2015. “NASA global data set combines historical measurements with data from climate simulations using the best available computer models to provide forecasts of how global temperature (shown here) and precipitation might change up to 2100 under different greenhouse gas emissions scenarios.”

Some researchers from Princeton University drove that point home with a recent paper in the journal Nature Communications. Jun Yin and Amilcare Porporato’s paper, “Diurnal cloud cycle biases in climate models” details how they carefully analyzed satellite data from 1986 to 2005 and compared the information they gleaned to what the models produce.  The two determined how the time of day that clouds form in reality versus the time of day averaged in the models can affect the amount of solar radiation the models predict.

In the climate models, the cloud cover peaks in the morning. In reality, the cloud cover peaks in the afternoon – the same time the radiation coming from the sun peaks. The amount of clouds and types of clouds between the earth’s surface and the sun make a difference in how much energy from the sun we receive. The climate models’ were over-estimating that amount and potentially forecasting hotter and drier conditions based on it.

The paper states, “Thus, on the one hand, consistent biases in DCC [diurnal cycle of clouds] between present and future climates give rise to similar TOA [top of the atmosphere] reference irradiance, so that the model tuning made for current climate conditions still remains largely effective for the global mean temperature projections. On the other hand, consistent biases have the potential to increase the uncertainty of climate projections.” In simpler terms, the researchers don’t think the temperature forecasts are completely wrong, but they have shown the margin of error may be much greater than most scientists have acknowledged up to this point.

The hope is for the results of the study to be used to improve the current models.

In another story, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), released the news on Tuesday that they are in the third phase of a massive supercomputer system upgrade. This year’s improvements increase the processing speed to 8.4 petaflops and 60 percent more storage capacity. The added speed and storage will allow for more initial conditions data – extremely important information for forecasting – and higher resolution, which will help with accuracy with respect to geographical space and time.

The goal is to improve our forecasting capability, especially when it comes to warning of dangerous storms. The forecasting model specifically mentioned in the press release is the Global Forecasting System (GFS), which has a reputation among many forecasters of often being less than accurate more than two or three days out, even though it produces predictions for 10 days out. Improvements to the GFS are needed and quite welcome!

If you’re not a meteorologist or climatologist, you likely don’t know the frustration of making a forecast based on science and technology – much more than we had fifty years ago – and still knowing that there is a chance the models we rely on are missing critical input and getting it wrong. While most people may not consider a few degrees error in temperature a horrible thing, they’d probably agree when the temperature happens to be around 32 degrees, a few degrees in either direction can make a big difference in our weather reality.

Weather Blog

Obsessing over fractions of an inch

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It’s 11:00 on Wednesday morning, and I’m obsessing over every little change in the HRRR (High Resolution Rapid Refresh) model’s update. Will it be one inch or 2.5 inches of snow in eastern Wake County? Is that just half-an-inch in northwestern Wake? That’s different from what it said the last hour.

potential snowfall totals

A slide from the NWS Raleigh Office’s 10:30 AM, Wednesday, January 3, 2018 weather briefing

The HRRR is the model we put more stock in for short-term forecasting – of less than 24 hours – because it shows more detail than most of the rest. It’s usually pretty spot on because it updates so often. Each run has a better handle on where the storm will go, or at least, it should. So, we meteorologists watch it like hawks and bog ourselves down in fractions of an inch.

I literally just reminded myself that a half-inch more or less than two inches will still be a mess tomorrow morning on the roads. Yes, snow is much nicer than mix of ice and snow, but face it: we live in the south, and not everyone is a safe driver in the rain, much less on snow.

The major roads are brined thanks to the Department of Transportation. I could see the coating on my way into work early this morning on Highways 64, 96, and 98. The side streets will be another story. If you wake up tomorrow, and the news is reporting that emergency officials are asking you to stay off the roads, please heed that call if you can. I know some jobs are literally essential, but most of us can postpone our driving for better conditions.

If plows are needed, they require room to work to clear the roads. More cars for them to compete with for space means slower progress. Plus, driving before the roads are clear puts yourself and other drivers at risk. Remember what I noted above about not everyone being a safe driver? You might be the ultimate professional at driving on snow, but the guy in front of you could make a rookie mistake that leaves both of you in bad shape. Why risk it? Let the DOT and tomorrow’s sunshine do a little work first.

As for me and my obsession with how this forecast verifies… if we only get a trace of snow, I will be thankful – even if that means a busted forecast.

Weather Blog

La Nina fail?

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We are in the midst of a La Nina winter. I discussed in my blog two weeks ago how in a La Nina year, we should experience above-average temperatures and below-average precipitation. While we did have a few days of warmer-than-normal temperatures following that blog post, the cold returned with a vengeance, and it looks like it will stick around for a while.

On December 21, the Climate Prediction Center updated its outlook maps for January and the three-month period of January through March. According to those maps, North Carolina now has “equal chances” of having above-normal, normal, or below-normal temperatures and precipitation through January. I usually interpret that prediction as “your guess is as good as mine.”

CPC Jan Temps

The Climate Prediction Center’s Temperature Probability map for January 2018

Based on the long-range forecast models, it looks like we will have below-normal temperatures through at least the first full week of the month. While I don’t really trust the models almost two weeks in advance, I don’t see anything today that would make me think this cold pattern will break before January 8. So, at least the first week of January should be colder than normal.

If that first week ends up being wetter-than-normal as predicted in the CPC’s 8-14 Day Outlook, we could have some wintry precipitation. While that possibility should be expected in January, it does make me wonder where my milder winter went? Granted, climatological winter lasts through the end of February, but much of December was cold and the first part of January looks even colder. I’m feeling a little gypped and wondering if we are experiencing a La Nina fail.

But I digress.

The updated outlook for January through March still shows the likelihood for warmer-than-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation. That map tells me that the forecasters at the CPC are still clinging to the idea that La Nina will win out over all the other factors that go into seasonal forecasting. I’m having a hard time buying it as I look at the local forecast today. Since I’m not a cold weather fan, I will cross my fingers that they are correct.

One thing to keep in mind is that these monthly outlooks are basically about average temperatures over a month or three-month period. If January verifies as a warmer-than-normal month, that would mean the last three weeks in January were likely well-above normal. Another point to remember is that a winter storm only takes a day or two to make a mess of central North Carolina. Just because the next three months could be warmer on average doesn’t mean we can’t have late season wintry weather. Ice storms happen pretty regularly for us in February and early March.

I’m always curious to see how these seasonal forecasts pan out. Every one that verifies true gives us more confidence. Each one that turns out to be a bust teaches us something. For now, all we can do is bundle up against the current cold streak and wait to see what the new year brings.

CPC JFM temp map

The Climate Prediction Center’s Temperature Probability map for January through March of 2018