Are you dreaming of a white Christmas? You might have to settle for a warm and dry one, relatively speaking.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released their 2017/2018 winter outlook on Oct. 19, and they are predicting drier and warmer conditions for our part of the country.
Beaufort County has a greater than 50 percent chance of experiencing a drier-than-normal winter, and more than a 40 percent probability of experiencing a warmer one.
The possibility of a La Nina will influence how our winter shapes up, according to NOAA. There is currently a 55 to 65 percent chance of one occurring.
“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 in a NOAA press release. “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.”
That means that while we will be experiencing a warmer and drier winter, large swaths of the north will be bracing themselves for a cold and wet long haul. A sizable middle portion of the country should experience a normal winter according to the outlook.
While the Lowcountry might experience a warmer and drier than normal winter this year, it does not mean that you should plan on going sunbathing in January. Last month the National Weather Service in Charleston released a statement on the possibility of a La Nina causing a warmer than average winter and The Packet discussed the particulars with Carl Barnes, a weather service meteorologist.
“Overall it is expected to be drier and warmer than normal, but just because we are overall drier and warmer doesn’t mean that we’re not still going to set some potentially record low temperatures or not going to have some really rainy, washout type days,” said Barnes in the Sept. 23 interview. “It’s just a trend, and like any climate trend it isn’t necessarily reflected in the day to day weather. It is an average over a longer term period.”
Besides La Nina, NOAA discussed other factors influencing their winter outlook, including the Arctic Oscillation, which has bearing on how much arctic air makes its way to the south and is more difficult to predict than La Nina.
NOAA puts out its seasonal outlooks in an effort to help communities prepare for coming weather trends according to their press release. In doing so, they hope to reduce the negative impacts that weather can have on the population. They have even partnered with the National Weather Service to create a guide to help people prepare as winter approaches.