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NOAA releases 2019-2020 winter outlook

The outlook calls for a slightly warmer than average winter.

ROANOKE, Va. – Snow lovers, don't get too excited just yet. Thursday morning, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration held a media conference to announce its winter outlook. 

They are forecasting a slight chance of warmer than average temperatures this winter.

There's no clear cut precipitation trend, with above average precipitation for the upper Midwest and Northern Plains. It's something we'll have to watch, though, as their projected storm track is fairly close to our region.

One of the things they cite is the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO). This refers to how warm or cold the ocean water is in the eastern equatorial Pacific (off the coast of Peru). This can influence the storm track in the U.S. during any season.

• El Niño refers to warmer ocean waters, which typically means a more active storm track in the eastern U.S.

• La Niña refers to cooler ocean waters, which typically means a less active storm track in the eastern U.S.

Currently, the ENSO is in a neutral phase. Research we've done here at StormTeam 10 shows that 56% of neutral winters yield below average snowfall.

So, we can't solely base the winter forecast on that. 

We also analyze the snow cover in Siberia, as that has in influence on how much cold air can move into the U.S. during the cold season. Lastly, we analyze how much energy is spent during tropical season. Typically, the more active the tropical season is - the less active the winter will be (and vice versa). 

Based on these three parameters, we will be coming out with our winter forecast in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, this is the average amount of snow each region sees in a given year. 


About the Author:

Chris Michaels

Meteorologist Chris Michaels is an American Meteorological Society (AMS) Certified Broadcaster, forecasting weather conditions in southwest Virginia on WSLS 10 News from 5 a.m. to 7 a.m. weekdays on Virginia Today.

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