November 9, 2017

 NOAA's winter forecast predicts a warmer
and drier season on the Outer Banks

Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued the U.S. Winter Outlook in late October, reporting that La Niņa is expected to once again influence winter conditions this year.

As a result, the Outer Banks has a hefty 40-50% chance of experiencing a drier and warmer winter than usual.

“Both the temperature and precipitation outlooks [for this year’s forecast] lean on typical La Niņa impacts, particularly those of the past 30 years, and bear some resemblance to the outlooks issued for last winter,” reported Mike Halpert of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center in his annual blog. “…last year at this time, we were also anticipating the emergence of La Niņa later in the fall.”

During a typical La Niņa winter, it’s common to experience warmer winters in the southern U.S., and wetter, cooler conditions in the northern U.S.

Forecasters believe there is about a 55%-65% chance during the fall and winter that La Niņa will fully form, but if it materializes, forecasters say it should be weak and potentially short-lived.

With the La Niņa factor in mind, the 2017 / 2018 temperature outlook indicates above-average temperatures across the southern U.S., extending northward out West through the central Rockies, and all the way up to Maine in the eastern part of the nation.

NOAA says two-thirds of the continental US will likely experience warmer-than-normal conditions.

The winter precipitation outlook favors below-normal precipitation across the entire southern U.S., with probabilities greatest (exceeding 50%) along the eastern Gulf Coast to the coasts of northern Florida, Georgia, and southern South Carolina.

In contrast, above-average precipitation is more likely across much of the northern parts of the country, in the northern Rockies, around the Great Lakes, in Hawaii, and western Alaska.

Locally, the Outer Banks has one of the higher percentages of warmer and drier than normal winter.

There’s a 40-50% chance that the temperature will be higher than usual, and a 40-50% chance that the winter will be much drier than usual as well.  

The NOAA Climate Prediction Center (CPC) issues probabilistic seasonal temperature and precipitation forecasts so that users can understand risk and opportunities when making climate-sensitive decisions, according to the report.

Though predictions are certainly not set in stone, the recent wave of almost summer-like beach days certainly seems to suggest that this year’s warm winter forecast is on track.

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