Season

The season’s first arctic blast has come and gone this week, and many are wondering if it was a sign of things to come with regard to the upcoming winter. Dr. Ryan Boyles, State Climatologist for North Carolina:

“We are getting into the time of year when this type of weather becomes more common. We haven’t broken any records, but its just uncommon when you look at what is typical for the past ten years.”

As a general rule, winter is the time of year that climatologist are able to issue long-range weather forecasts with confidence. Boyles once again says this isn’t going to be one of those years:

“There are some small signals, like the rate of snowfall and build up in Siberia that suggests it could be colder for December. But really for the rest of the winter there is nothing that suggests it will be warm or cold, wet or dry. We don’t have enough of a history with all of the models to have the kind of confidence that I like to have to make a forecast.”

But, with such a drastic change in the weather this early in the season, many are on the look-out for a colder than normal winter after a cool, wet summer. Boyles says that’s logical, but not supported by their information:

“There is nothing to suggest that because we had a cool wet summer that we will have a cool winter. In fact it works out about half the time. It could be anywhere in between.”

Boyles reiterates that this is just one of those winters where we’re just going to have to be surprised:

“We don’t have a lot of meaningful guidance. We will probably have a little bit of everything and we might work out to be about average.”

It hasn’t been that long ago when there were no weather forecasts beyond a day or two at best. Boyles says there’s ongoing research to help forecast the weather in years where there is little guidance, such as this one:

“There is a lot of emerging research that may turn out to play over the next five years and really improve our forecasts. But its too early to see how it really translates into a meaningful forecast.”

NC State Climatologist Dr. Ryan Boyles.


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