NC winter weather outlook: Expect warmer, drier-than-normal season

NOAA forecasts that winter temperatures are 50-60% more likely to be above normal in our area.
RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolinians can expect an exceptionally warm winter season and dryer-than-normal conditions, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's 2021-2022 winter outlook.

For the second straight year, the world heads into a new La Nina weather event, which can increase hurricane activity in the Atlantic.

NC temperature and precipitation outlook


The Triangle normally sees high temperatures in the 50s and lows in the 30s from December through February, according to the National Weather Service.

This year, however, NOAA forecasts that winter temperatures are 50-60% more likely to be above normal in our area.

Snowfall and rain will be near normal to possibly below normal. According to NOAA, the Raleigh-Durham area has a 33-40% chance of drier-than-average winter.

These predictions are consistent with typical La Nina conditions, which usually bring above-average temperatures to the Southeast, said Jon Gottschalck, chief of the operational prediction branch at NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

La Nina is a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean that can affect weather worldwide, according to NOAA. La Nina's natural cooling of parts of the Pacific is the flip side of a warmer El Nino pattern.

Hurricane season


During last year's La Nina, the Atlantic set a record with 30 named storms. This year, without La Nina, the season has still been busier than normal with 20 named storms and only one name left unused on the primary storm name list: Wanda.

The last couple weeks have been quiet but "I expect it to pick up again," Halpert said. "Just because it's quiet now, it doesn't mean we won't still see more storms as we get later into October and even into November."

Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.

La Ninas tend to make Atlantic seasons more active because one key ingredient in formation of storms is winds near the top of them. An El Nino triggers more crosswinds that decapitate storms, while a La Nina has fewer crosswinds, allowing storms to develop and grow.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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