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Cold Snaps Are on the Way

by Tom Ross

We’ve had very few early season cold snaps to start the fall season, but I suspect there will be plenty to come over the next month or so. In terms of averages, they continue to drop as we head through the month with average highs about 63 at the start of November, dropping to 53 by month’s end. The lows drop from 40 at the start of the month to a frosty 32. The warmest day on record was 83 degrees on the first of the month in 1950, and the coldest was a numbing 8 degrees on the 25, also in 1950. In any given November about an inch of snow falls across the area.

In terms of what to expect this winter, you have many choices to pick your favorite prognosticator – from the woolly worm to Farmer’s Almanac, or a more scientific choice: NOAA’s long-range winter forecast. Another good local source is Ray’s Weather, which forecasts for the Western North Carolina region. In general, during El Niño events, winter and early spring temperatures are cooler than average with above-average precipitation in the central and eastern parts of the state and drier weather in the western part. La Niña usually brings warmer than average temperatures with above-average precipitation in the western part of the state, while the central and coastal regions stay drier than average. Most of these forecasts are issued in mid-fall and we will revisit these outlooks next month.

What’s Expected

However, we can take a look at expected temperatures and precipitation for the next month or so with a little bit more reliability. The chart at right, which can be found at cpc.noaa.gov, shows the predicted fall (October, November and December) outlooks for temperature and precipitation. Temperatures are forecast to average about normal and precipitation is a bit more tricky, with averages close to normal.

Interestingly our two “heavy” precipitation events so far this fall were from decaying tropical systems. We had between three and six inches of rain in the Fairview area from Irma and two to four inches of rain from Nate.

Meteorologist Tom Ross managed the Climate Database Modernization Program at the National Climatic Data Center.