Wednesday, February 21, 2024

OK folks, it’s time to talk about winter. Here’s what forecasters are predicting

The Heritage Park neighborhood of Virginia Beach taken January 2018. (Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Paul Merullo)
The Heritage Park neighborhood of Virginia Beach taken January 2018. (Southside Daily file photo/Courtesy of Paul Merullo)

At the Winter Outlook teleconference on Thursday, forecasters from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center discussed the temperature, precipitation and drought predictions throughout the nation.

“The winter outlook is produced to give American communities on how we think the [winter] weather will depend across the nation,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director for the climate prediction center.

Halpert said for the southeast states to expect above average warmer temperatures and equal chances for below, near or above average precipitation from December through February.

But what do these predictions mean and how does this affect Hampton Roads?

“The main thing the winter outlooks are looking at is more general seasonal trends,” said Andrew Zimmerman, meteorologist at the National Weather Service office in Wakefield. “What you’re not necessarily going to capture is changes on a week to two week basis.”

Zimmerman said it does not mean Hampton Roads couldn’t have a couple weeks of wintry weather and colder temperatures. He emphasized the importance to be prepared for hazardous winter weather and in terms of what to expect, he noted there really wasn’t much in the range of specifics.

Jeff Orrock, chief meteorologist in charge at NWS Wakefield, agrees. He said there’s a probability winter temperatures in Hampton Roads that could be warmer than normal.

“They are looking at things in the sense of averages,” Orrock said of the NOAA Winter Outlook teleconference. “It’s not really a good indication of what weather impacts we are going to have You could end up averaging extremes and end up coming out normal.”

Typically, Hampton Roads gets 11 to 15 coastal storms a year.

The NOAA report mentioned how certain regions such as Greenland, Alaska and the Arctic are causing shifts in the jet streams or air currents influencing weather systems here through oscillations or movement.

This year, there is no El Niño, which typically brings warmer temperatures and more storms, so the jet streams will have more of an impact, Orrock added.

“In the summer time, the jet stream is retreated to the north,” Orrock said.

While the NOAA report provided a general weather forecast, Orrock noted the winter months will probably have more typical swings with pretty dramatic temperature swings from week to week.

He plans on giving folks a “heads up” on short-term climate factors and what to expect.

“We’re going to be doing weather briefings, twice weekly briefings starting in November,” Orrock said.

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