Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): Following a reprieve from the warmth, a cold snap will settle in just in time to end October and begin November, but is it permanent?
OCTOBER OUTLOOK: We had a warm start, mid-month cool blast, warm finish with cold weather on Halloween. We said if there is any snow, it would be flurries and confined to the highest elevations of Pocahontas County in October. We had a 20% risk of above average rain along the Greenbrier Valley and the highest ridges separating West Virginia from Virginia and likely near average rainfall across much of the Route 19 corridor. So we didn’t anticipate any flooding issues nor see upside risk to a large rainfall deficit in October.
OCTOBER OUTCOME: Our rainfall was slightly below average. The month started out warm, a couple of chilly days in the middle and we finished the month of October on a warm note. So all in all, not too bad of an outlook that we had for the month of October.
NOVEMBER OUTLOOK: The factors favoring less than average rain include the Southern Oscillation index, the negative Pacific Decadal Oscillation and the negative phase of the Quasi Biennial Oscillation. There are three factors favoring above average rainfall, including a strong El Nino, positive West Pacific Oscillation (second half of November) and negative phase of the Pacific-Decadal Oscillation (after early November).
The soil moisture in southern West Virginia slightly below average, which will play a factor in the brush fire season. Analog years based on sea surface temperature anomalies show southern West Virginia will be sandwiched between the wet eastern Mid-Atlantic and dry Ohio Valley.
The Palmer Drought Severity Index, which is a good measure of long term drying, basically shows much of our area has been moist, except in Mercer and Tazewell County. So overall, these factors favor just a slightly elevated risk for wildfires because we haven’t been in a long term rainfall deficit.
The local brush fire pattern in the autumn that favors an increased risk for red flag conditions is when high pressure is off the coast and you get that southeasterly flow, or if you have a cold front to the west and a dry front that brings a northwesterly flow across the region. A breezy wind and low humidity bring red flag conditions.
November is usually the month of brush fires locally during the autumn season. So the low down on temperatures is transient cold blasts (overall warmer than average regime), a slightly elevated brush fire risk and a mild Thanksgiving. Rainfall will likely trend below average, except an upside risk to near average rain in the Greenbrier Valley. Snowfall in Pocahontas County will stay below the November average of 9.7 inches.