The last couple of days of autumn were nasty. They were cold, dreary and rainy with threats of winter-like precipitation. Winter came in like a lamb with seasonable weather. First, let’s talk about what winter actually is, you may recall that the earth tilts toward or away from the sun. Whichever hemisphere tilts towards the sun get direct sun rays, thus are warmer. December through February, the northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun and we get winter.
Weather is dynamic, meaning it changes all the time and some weather patterns across the globe often affect other weather patterns in another portion of the earth. One such phenomenon is called La Niña. This is a cooling of the equatorial Pacific waters, the opposite of El Niño. Both of these weather patterns can provoke drastic weather changes across the globe, including the United States and eastern North Carolina. Meteorologists forecast that a La Niña event will take place over the course of this winter and may change the weather pattern of the U.S. and ENC included.
An average Winter for eastern North Carolina would consist of an average high temperature of 54 degrees. December has an average of 55 degrees, January and average of 52 degrees and February an average of 56 degrees. The average precipitation amount for eastern North Carolina for winter is 3.5 inches. ENC also averages 4 inches of snowfall per year. Some of the impacts that are made on eastern North Carolina during La Niña event years is that we tend to be warmer than average and drier than average. Recall meteorologist Pierce Legeion’s report here http://wnct.com/2016/10/24/la-nina-could-impact-winter-weather-in-the-east/.
The National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration released its outlook for the winter season and accounted for La Niña. The temperature outlook calls for a greater percentage of above average temperatures for eastern North Carolina for the winter season. The outlook also calls for below average precipitation for the winter season. This is just a forecast and is looking several months out, thus it is just a general overview and cannot take into account individual storms or weather patterns that may produce a cold, rainy or snowy spell. In the short-term, those looking for a white Christmas may want to look elsewhere as temperatures will be above normal. Those looking for snow this winter, well, if La Niña holds, you may be disappointed.