Thursday, December 1, 2011

Winter forecast ... an update

Today's the first day of meteorological winter (more about that later), and there are increasing signs that the winter of 2011-12 will be mild across the Southeast -- milder than initially thought.

First, about that "start of winter." I know the official date of winter's start is Dec. 21, but meteorologists believe true seasonal weather is closer to the first days of months. So winter is Dec. 1 to Feb. 28 (or 29); spring is March 1-May 31; summer is June 1-Aug. 31; and autumn is Sept. 1-Nov. 30.

Now, about the new forecast.

Let's go back and review the initial prediction. Forecasters said La Nina conditions in the Pacific would mean mild and dry weather in the South, and cold and snowy conditions in the northwest and parts of the Midwest. However, meteorologists also said that if a strong high pressure system develops over Greenland -- known as the Greenland Block -- it would cause a repeat of last winter.

Last year was a La Nina winter, but the Greenland Block overwhelmed La Nina and sent cold weather -- and a few winter storms -- into the Southeast and up the East Coast.

Forecasters said that they weren't sure if a Greenland Block would develop again this year.

So far, it hasn't. That means December will be milder than originally forecast, meteorologists say. They still aren't sure about January and early February, but they're sticking to their guns about a milder trend for latter February and March.

Accu-Weather, the big private company based in State College, Pa., updated its winter weather forecast today, noting that December will be relatively mild for much of the country.

Accu-Weather thinks the Carolinas will see little frozen precipitation this winter, and I've seen the same forecast from other meteorologists. Brad Panovich, the chief meteorologist at WCNC-TV, the Observer's news partner, has predicted that freezing rain -- not snow -- would be the more likely form of wintry precipitation in the Carolinas.

It would seem that most of our storms will bring cold rain -- or a "close call" between rain and freezing rain.

So here's a summary of the latest prediction for this winter:

CAROLINAS ... Generally, a mild December, with a few brief cold snaps. January is a question mark, and that's when we'd stand our best chance of seeing frozen precipitation. The best guess is that if February starts cold, it will turn mild.

One bad thing ... the current forecast indicates severe thunderstorms and tornadoes again will be a problem in late February and March (and probably into April) across the South.

REST OF THE SOUTH ... Virginia's weather will be a slightly cooler version of ours. Southern parts of Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, along with all of Florida, will be mild and dry.

The greatest chance of ice storms (mostly in January) will be in a band from north Texas, across Arkansas, Tennessee, northern Louisiana, northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, north Georgia, and Kentucky.

The severe weather threat will grow in late winter and early spring.

MID-ATLANTIC and NEW ENGLAND ... Not as harsh as last year. There will be a few major winter storms, but it will be nothing like the severe winter of 2010-11.

MIDWEST, GREAT LAKES ... This will be the worst of winter. Cold weather and snowstorms are likely from the Dakotas, across Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and northern parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio. It could be a nasty winter for Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Chicago, Detroit and Cleveland.

Less-frequent winter storms will impact places like St. Louis, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, where freezing rain or storms with both snow and rain are likely.

The Midwest will be at the heart of the winter storm track.

THE WEST ... The northwest will be colder than average, while the belt from California, across Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico and most of Texas will be mild and dry. That "dry" word is bad for drought-stricken Texas.


Anonymous said...

Panovich said to start prepping your MRE rations, this is gonna be a blizzard deluxe.

true story!

BUCKGUY said...

Dang I am really hoping they are wrong! LET IT SNOW!!!!!! Let it get cold and LET IT SNOW!!!!!

TC said...

Let`s see how soon Brad Panicovitch calls for Snowpocalypse 2012.....

Anonymous said...

Just go to the epicenter uptown. It's always snowing there.

iAmJustSayin said...

I don't think I could keep my job if I were wrong 90% of the do meteorologists keep theirs????

Anonymous said...

Just what Brad needs so he freak us out with his freakout meter and tell us to strip all the grocery stores of milk, bread and whatever else people must freak out over.

Anonymous said...

I still think it's going to be 90 degrees on Christmas Day. When I moved here from Ohio to go to college, the warm weather was an attraction. After 23 of these brutal summers, I long for blizzards. Without Panovich and his out-of-control hyperbole, of course....

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess if all this is true (and I hope it isn't), I'll have to plan a return trip to Michigan or Minnesota to see some real winter. Places where they don't have to make snow so people can ski.

Living in the South is nice, except for the miserably hot and humid summers, but as far as winter goes, it's almost like the seasons don't really change any more. Winter is just a memory of what it used to be here.

Anonymous said...

The seasons are defined by astronomers not meteorologists.

Anonymous said...

no disrespect but i hope your wrong about Tennessee the last one that hit around here Kentucky was shut down and about 10 miles south of the state line was out my county was litterally cut in half we missed the ice by 2degrees in temperature the only thing it did to us was fill the hotel rooms up and help our friend sell about 2000 gallons of kerosine