FIRST ALERT: NOAA issues winter outlook

FIRST ALERT: NOAA issues winter outlook
NOAA has released the winter forecast outlook. (Source: WMBF)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have released their forecast for the 2020-2021 winter season.

The outlook, released today, calls for an increased chance of milder than normal temperatures across much of the southern US.

“With La Nina well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

La Nina is an atmospheric pattern that develops in the Pacific Ocean every few years. In this La Nina pattern, strong winds blow warm water at the ocean’s surface from South America to near Indonesia. As the warm water moves west, cold water from the deep rises to the surface near the coast of South America. This change in the placement of warmer and cooler ocean water can alter jet stream and weather patterns across the World.

TEMPERATURE FORECAST

The report from NOAA stated that with the La Nina pattern in place, “the greatest chances for warmer-than-normal conditions extend across the Southern tier of the U.S. from the Southwest, across the Gulf states and into the Southeast. More modest probabilities for warmer temperatures are forecast in the southern parts of the west coast, and from the Mid-Atlantic into the Northeast. Above-average temperatures are also favored for Hawaii and western and northern Alaska. Below-normal temperatures are favored in southern Alaska and from the northern Pacific Northwest into the Northern Plains, with equal chances for below-, near- or above-average temperatures in the remaining regions.”

Above normal temperatures are forecast across the southern US.
Above normal temperatures are forecast across the southern US. (Source: WMBF)

PRECIPITATION FORECAST

The report also stated that "wetter-than-average conditions are most likely across the northern tier of the U.S., extending from the Pacific Northwest, across the Northern Plains, Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley, as well as Hawaii and northern Alaska. The greatest chances for drier-than-average conditions are predicted in the Southwest, across Texas along the Gulf Coast, and in Florida. More modest chances for drier conditions are forecast in southern Alaska, and from California across the Rockies, Central Plains and into the Southeast. "

Below normal precipitation is forecast across the southern US.
Below normal precipitation is forecast across the southern US. (Source: WMBF)

LOCAL SNOWFALL IN LA NINA WINTERS

With the La Nina weather pattern favoring warmer than normal temperatures and below normal precipitation, the risk of any snow or ice is lower. Looking back at snowfall records in winters with the La Nina weather pattern present indicates typically snow-less winters especially for the Grand Strand. In fact, of the 9 most recent La Nina winter seasons, only one - 1988-89 featured snowfall in Myrtle Beach. It is important to note however, that average yearly snowfall in Myrtle Beach is only .5 inches.

The data for Florence and the Pee Dee is a little more optimistic for snow lovers. Of the 9 most recent La Nina winters, 5 featured measurable snowfall.

Snowfall is highly unlikely in winters featuring a La Nina weather pattern.
Snowfall is highly unlikely in winters featuring a La Nina weather pattern. (Source: WMBF)

Snowfall in this area is difficult in even the most active and coldest winter seasons, however just the right amount of cold air and just the right storm track can occasionally produce wintry weather in even the mildest winters.

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