Analysis: NOAA released Winter Outlook

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The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which oversees the National Weather Service, released their Winter Outlook on Thursday and it has caused a significant amount of noise on social media.

NWS forecasters in Peachtree City said this year’s seasonal forecast has Georgia seeing a better chance for an overall drier and warmer winter season for metro Atlanta and north Georgia.

FOX 5 Storm Team Chief Meteorologist David Chandley took a look at the long-term seasonal forecast on Thursday.

“I am not a fan of the long-range forecasts. Too often the message gets muddled and there is a battle between perception and reality,” said Chandley.

Chandley said that one example of a muddled message would be if there was a warmer January, there can be an embedded cold snap which produces wintery precipitation.

“The perception is the forecast for the winter was ‘wrong’ when in reality, the trend over the 3-month period was warmer than average, thus it is 'correct,’” Chandley said.

Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of the Climate Prediction Center, echoed those sentiments in a video released by NOAA Thursday.

“Regardless of where you live, be prepared for typical winter weather hazards which is extreme cold and snow storms,” said Halpert.

Chandley said he will continue to communicate the most accurate forecast he can.

“I know it's my battle to face and it’s up to me to communicate the message clearly. I will continue to shoot straight with you and do the best I can,” said Chandley.

Chandley, who has nearly 30 years of experience forecasting Georgia weather, said it now appears La Nina is kicking in, so he is not surprised by the national forecasters’ long-term forecast.

“I can see why NOAA is leaning the way they are, but I still expect winter weather to visit the Southeast this year,” said Chandley.

NOAA’s Winter Outlook is broken down three-month climate conditions into three sections: temperature, precipitation, and drought.

The outlook states that Hawaii, western and northern Alaska, as well as the southern two-thirds of the continental United States and the east coast, will see a warmer than normal winter. Meanwhile, it should be colder than normal in southeastern Alaska and along the northern tier from the Pacific Northwest to Minnesota.

Greater than average snowfall can be expected around the Great Lakes and the northern Rockies with less than average snowfall likely throughout the mid-Atlantic region, according to NOAA>

The entire southern U.S. will see lower than normal precipitation overall, while Hawaii, western and northern Alaska, as well as much of the northern part of the lower 48 states, will see a wetter winter, according to the outlook.

NOAA predicts that drought will persist in the Northern Plains despite the predicted rainfall because of the frozen ground, but further west should show some signs of improvement. In addition, drought improvements are expected in Hawaii and the middle of the country.

Scattered areas across the South and Southwest which missed out on the rainfall from the extremely active hurricane season could see drought development, according to the outlook.


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