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Winter Weather in the Carolinas Undecided

In the summer the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA predicted that the southern part of the country would have a colder than normal, wet winter. Just last week, NOAA backed off that forecast. North Carolina’s State Climatologist, Dr. Ryan Boyles says that winter is usually when they can predict the overall weather trend with some certainty, but not this year:

“Usually going into winter we have some idea of what is likely to happen, especially in terms of overall patterns. A few months ago we thought we had that confidence. We were looking at an el Nino situation which usually indicates the likelihood of wet winters. But that el Nino has fizzled, and that has thrown our outlook up in the air.”

So, what about that colder than normal winter predicted for this year?:

“Right now we don’t have much of a clue. The temperature patterns are not as closely linked to what happens in the tropical Pacific Ocean. Even with el Nino gone we are missing all kinds of guidance. Historically we have signals that are related to cold temperatures, but we can’t use those to predict more than a few weeks in advance.”

But, Boyles warns that these are not weather predictions, but more of an outlook:

“It’s more of how we think the probability distributions are going to shift. Even in the years when we have high confidence its going to be a wet winter, there is still about a 20% chance it won’t be.”

Boyles also cautions that while we may have no guidance for upcoming winter weather right now, that can change before winter’s out:

“It’s possible. The way the el Nino evolves, it can change fairly quickly. As we saw it weaken very quickly it can also strengthen very quickly. Right now everyone is scratching their heads.” is dedicated to serving the agricultural industry in the Carolinas and Virginia with the latest ag news, exclusive regional weather station readings, and key crop market information. The website is a companion of the Southern Farm Network, provider of daily agricultural radio programming to the Carolinas since 1974. presents radio programs, interviews and news relevant to crop and livestock production and research throughout the mid-Atlantic agricultural community.