Frost on ground cover

Wilkes County received its first widespread killing frost of the season Saturday morning, leaving a chilly coating in low-lying areas.

Long-range forecasts indicate milder-than-average weather overall this winter in North Carolina, with the addition of a wild card factor.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said El Nino or La Nina conditions aren’t present this year, so short-term climate patterns will drive winter weather.

NOAA said this increases uncertainty about the weather and could cause large swings in winter temperatures and precipitation. It also indicates the possibility of one or more large snow and/or ice events in western North Carolina like the memorable snow storm the second weekend of December 2018.

The NOAA forecast calls for near or slightly below average temperatures in December in North Carolina, indicating some of the season’s coldest temperatures could come early. Near or slightly above average temperatures are expected in January and February in the state.

Higher-than-normal ocean water temperatures from the Gulf of Mexico up the Eastern coast to the Mid-Atlantic coasts could generate significant precipitation in North Carolina and other Southeastern states, especially in early winter.

According to a NOAA statement, “Even during a warmer-than-average winter, periods of cold temperatures and snowfall are expected.”

NOAA said the greatest likelihood for warmer-than-normal conditions are in Alaska and Hawaii, with more modest probabilities for above-average temperatures spanning large parts of the remaining lower 48 from the West across the South and up the eastern seaboard. The Northern Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, and the western Great Lakes have equal chances for below-, near- or above-average temperatures.

No part of the U.S. is favored to have below-average temperatures this winter.

Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in Alaska and Hawaii this winter, along with portions of the Northern Plains, Upper Mississippi Valley, the Great Lakes and parts of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

Drier-than-average conditions are most likely for Louisiana, parts of Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas and Oklahoma as well as areas of northern and central California.

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center updates the three-month outlook each month. The next update will be available Nov. 21.

According to the Farmer’s Almanac winter will be warmer than normal, with above-normal precipitation in the southern Appalachians. “The coldest periods will be in mid-January and from late February into early March. The snowiest periods will be in late November, mid- and late January, early February, and early March. April and May will be warmer and rainier than normal.”

The Ray’sWeather.Com forecast for the Boone area calls for snowfall totals that are 10% less than the long-term average, temperatures near average and “the bulk of winter between mid-November and late-January.”

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