SOUTHEASTERN NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - Just as weather systems come and go, so do the overreaching patterns that cause the storms to develop. Last year, we were preparing for a shift from a neutral pattern to an El Nino pattern; now we are heading for a La Nina pattern for the upcoming winter months. What does that mean for our weather in southeast North Carolina?
WHAT IS LA NINA: La Nina occurs when surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean cool; this, like El Nino is not a storm or anything that is much out of the ordinary outside of the cooler than normal temperatures.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT WEATHER-WISE: There will probably be a bit of a drastic change from where our weather patterns have been over the past 3 – 4 years to a drier and warmer situation across the Carolinas. One of the indicators of this change was during the summer months many areas of the southeast began to dry out under a ridge of high pressure. With a variable subtropical jet stream, this will bring infrequent storm systems but they may be more powerful. Severe weather is more prevalent in La Nina years versus El Nino.
DOES THAT MEAN SNOW IS A NO-GO? Never say never in southeast North Carolina! But with decreased precipitation amounts, you can imagine that chances for snow are lower than in an El Nino year. Our last weak to moderate La Nina year was 2011 – 2012 only featured a minor snow event in the Piedmont. Asheville didn't even see a measurable snow that year.
LA NINA'S TROPICAL IMPLICATIONS: If La Nina can hang on for an extended period through the summer months of 2017, we could trend to have an active start to the 2017 hurricane season. La Nina patterns tend to bring less wind shear and warmer than normal waters in the tropical Atlantic that would lead to better opportunities for tropical cyclones to form.
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