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Winter Outlook: Warmer, wetter winter ahead

NOAA winter outlook released
Winter Weather New Hampshire
Posted at 5:29 AM, Oct 22, 2021

NOAA released the 2021-22 winter outlook on Thursday and the highlight of the forecast is the influence of La Nina this winter.

For the Ohio Valley, La Nina often has a "warmer than average and wetter than average" influence on the forecast, but what does that mean?

Temperature outlook

As I mentioned, our temperature outlook is erring on the warmer than average side with NOAA placing our area in the 40-50 percent chance of above-average temperatures for December, January and February. The average high for the months are 41, 38 and 43 degrees respectively.

Does this outlook mean it won't get cold? Absolutely not. Even in winter seasons that are influenced by La Nina, we still see stretches of cold weather and frigid temperatures. It all comes down to the trends for that given week or month. As we approach each month, we'll be able to show you those patterns to give a better look at the forecast. But as we know with winter, it really comes down to those weekly forecast.


Precipitation Outlook

The 2021-2022 precipitation outlook for the Ohio Valley is wetter than average according to this report from NOAA as well. But the precipitation outlook is like the proverbial can of worms. The question we get asked is: "How much snow does this mean for the Tri-State?" To be completely honest, there isn't a concrete answer at this point.

What the outlook shows us is that there is a higher chance for more precipitation events to pass through the Ohio Valley this winter. But each will be dependent on the temperature profile on that day. If it's during a stretch of above average temperatures, it could take all the precip and keep it as rain. But if we are into a cooler/colder spell, then it could mean more snow chances.

It would be nice if we could look at previous La Nina winters to see what that meant locally but no two La Nina winters are the same. They are highly variable!


Drought Outlook

The third item, less talked about locally, released in the outlook yesterday is the drought outlook. Our region isn't dealing with drought conditions currently and shouldn't see any chances in this over the winter months. But what is noteworthy is the small improvements in drought expected in northern California.