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How is this winter stacking up?

Yesterday, a coworker asked me if I expected us to get a big snow storm before winter ends. Off the top of my head, in a most unscientific manner, I blurted out an emphatic "no." Of course, it's no secret that I'm not a fan of cold weather, so that answer was probably just wishful thinking.

This morning, I decided to use a more scientific approach to consider that question, which makes the honest answer "I don't know." Taking a look at our history, our present, and our long-range forecasts is a bit like thinking a snow globe is a crystal ball. Climatology says we should get snow, but that doesn't mean we will.

So far this winter, only a trace of snow has fallen at RDU International Airport, the official reporting station for the Triangle. This amount is 2.6 inches below normal for the season. Although we've had an abundance of precipitation, it has not fallen as snow. Most of it has fallen when temperatures were above the freezing point. When we have had colder temperatures, they've accompanied high pressure and dry weather.

The high temperatures the last few days have been pleasantly above our normal, which is about 51º. As a frontal system moves through tomorrow and Saturday, the temperature trend will reverse, sending us back to below normal temperatures next week. Once again, those cold temperatures will coincide with dry weather.

The 8-14 day outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows colder than normal temperatures over the eastern half of the nation with the chance for slightly above normal precipitation along the Mid-Atlantic and New England coastline. Central North Carolina falls on the "normal" precipitation portion of the map.

The monthly outlook for February from the CPC calls for "equal chances" of above, below, or at normal temperatures and precipitation. That outlook for North Carolina is repeated in the March through May maps, as well.

While my gut feeling and wishful thinking is that the Triangle will not see a snow storm of six inches or more this year, the reality is that we could. Don't let what has happened so far lull you into a sense that it can't happen in the future.

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