North Carolina could see a warmer, drier winter this year, weather scientists announced Thursday.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its winter outlook report for the United States, predicting cooler and wetter weather in the North and warmer, drier weather for the South.
Scientists from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center said there is a 55 percent to 65 percent chance of La Nina weather conditions developing before winter begins – the second straight La Nina winter.
La Nina is an ocean-atmosphere phenomenon (the counterpart of El Nino) that involves a cooling of Eastern Central Pacific Ocean waters. It has extensive effects on the weather in North America and can affect Atlantic and Pacific hurricane seasons. Hurricane season for the United States continues through November.
“If La Nina conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Typical La Nina patterns during winter include above-average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the northern tier of the U.S. and below-normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South.”
Other factors that influence winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation, which affects the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and is difficult to predict more than one to two weeks in advance.
Warmer-than-normal conditions are most likely across the southern two-thirds of the continental U.S. and along the East Coast, including North Carolina, as well as across Hawaii and in western and northern Alaska.
North Carolina and much of the United States has seen above-average temperatures during the past two winters.
Drought also could develop across scattered areas of the South, especially in regions that miss heavy rainfall from hurricane season.