FIRST ALERT: NOAA issues 2021 winter outlook

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 1:47 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have released their forecast for the 2021-2021 winter season.

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

“Consistent with typical La Nina conditions during winter months, we anticipate below-normal temperatures along portions of the northern tier of the U.S. while much of the South experiences above-normal temperatures,” said Jon Gottschalck, chief, Operational Prediction Branch, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “The Southwest will certainly remain a region of concern as we anticipate below-normal precipitation where drought conditions continue in most areas.”

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.

Warmer than normal temperatures are likely.
Warmer than normal temperatures are likely.(WMBF)

Regarding temperatures, today’s report stated that “above-average temperatures are favored across the South and most of the eastern U.S. as La Nina climate conditions have emerged for the once again this winter. Below-average temperatures are favored for southeast Alaska and the Pacific Northwest eastward to the northern Plains.”

According to the outlook, drier-than-average conditions are favored in south-central Alaska, southern California, the Southwest, and the Southeast including the Carolinas.

Dryer than normal conditions are likely.
Dryer than normal conditions are likely.(WMBF)

While these outlooks can be valuable forecasting tools, it’s important to remember that they are just outlooks for the winter season as a whole and do not take into account short term weather patterns that can drastically alter the weather pattern across the US.

For example, rainfall across the Grand Strand and Pee Dee during the winter of 2020-2021 was well above normal with frequent bouts of heavy rain and even river flooding that developed in February. Last winter also featured a La Nina weather pattern with typically dry weather for the region.

Warmer and dryer than normal is likely.
Warmer and dryer than normal is likely.(WMBF)

Last winter also featured the historic blast of cold weather and snow deep into Texas and the Deep South - areas that are typically warmer than normal during La Nina Winters.

While the season as a whole may feature warmer and dryer than normal weather, brief changes in the overall pattern can result in periods of very cold weather and even the chance of wintry weather at times.

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