NOAA Forecasting An Exceptionally Snowy Winter For The Charlotte Region


Winter made an early appearance last month, with the North Carolina mountains witnessing the first snowfall of the season due to a pronounced upper low.

It’s somewhat rare for North Carolina to see snow in the middle of October, but experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) think it could be a sign of things to come. A significant factor this season is the robust El Niño in the tropical Pacific. This El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) event is characterized by warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures in the central/eastern Pacific, which in turn influences the jet stream—a fast, narrow current of air flowing from west to east high up in the atmosphere.

The jet stream acts as a bridge, connecting ENSO to North American winter climate patterns. During El Niño events, the most potent parts of the jet tend to shift southward and extend further eastward across the North Pacific Ocean, directing storms across the southern third of North America. This shift in the jet stream’s position can alter regions of higher and lower air pressure, influencing temperature and precipitation patterns.

Currently, NOAA climatologists and forecasters estimate an 85% likelihood of a strong El Niño event marking the onset of winter. This means that the Charlotte area, along with other parts of the Southeast US, might experience altered rain, snow, and temperature patterns due to the influence of El Niño on the jet stream.

The 2024 Farmer’s Almanac also forecasts, “above-normal precipitation and snowfall for the Southeast (most of North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia). The best chances for snow occur in late January and mid-February.”

As Halloween approaches, the mountains near Asheville have already been graced with snow and stores across our region are now being forced to put snowy Christmas decorations next to their fall leaves and pumpkin faces.

Are you dreaming of a white Christmas this year? 

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Originally posted 2023-11-08 12:17:42.


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