2016-17 Winter Weather Outlook

By: Chris Long

The trees are almost completely bare and the leaves have been blown away. Fall is quickly coming to an end and winter is soon to follow. While it is true that this has been one of the warmest autumns on record in Raleigh, winter isn’t expected to be quite as warm as autumn was. While these outlooks by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) were released about a month ago, with meteorological winter starting December 1st, we decided now would be a good time to take a look at predictions for the upcoming winter.

noaa_winter_temp_1020_0
Source: The Weather Channel

This is the temperature outlook that the NOAA released last week. In general terms, they predict that the Northern Plains will have below average temperatures during the winter (as if it isn’t cold enough during winters there) and the Southwest will be above average. For us here in North Carolina, while we do appear in the “above average” category, we are in the first tier of the above average category which means that we should be near average. So don’t get mad in February after we have a week of highs that don’t escape the 30s; it’s going to happen, just like it does every winter.

For reference, the average high temperature in Raleigh during the winter months is 52.3 degrees, 53 in December, 50 in January, and 54 in February.

winter_precip_noaa_1020
Source: The Weather Channel

This is the precipitation outlook for winter also released by the NOAA. They predict that the upper Midwest will again be in the extreme, above average. They also predict that the Southeast, especially the gulf coast, will be below average in the amount of precipitation they receive this winter. Back to North Carolina, the precipitation outlook is very similar to the temperature prediction. While we are in the “likely below” category, again, we are only 1 tier away from the “average” category, so, the amount of precipitation we will receive should be close to normal.

Add this all together and I believe we will have a fairly average winter as far as frozen precipitation goes. The amount of school we miss will depend on what day of the week a storm comes through. On average, we usually have about 4-6 days when school would be closed. However, sometimes those occur on weekends. Last year, we had a storm that came through on a weekend so it limited the amount of school that we missed unlike the year before when half of our spring break was taken because of snow days.

Due to Hurricane Matthew, we are already ahead of average as far as days of school missed. Only time will tell how many more nights are in store for students to yell at WCPSS on twitter instead of doing their homework.

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