Oak Hill, WV (WOAY-TV): The StormWatch 4 team has been analyzing the trends for the upcoming winter and compiled the snowfall, precipitation and temperature outlook for southern West Virginia.
Below are the main inputs into the StormWatch 4 winter outlook followed by our predictions:
El Nino: We are guaranteed to see the Equatorial Pacific waters stay warmer than average. However, the warmth is concentrated off the coast of South America instead of the central Pacific (near and west of the Dateline). Historically, east-based El Nino winters produce less snow than average (average is 50-60 inches, with more in the Monongahela Forest) in southern West Virginia.
Pacific Decadal Oscillation: Cooler, horseshoe of waters off the West Coast and Alaska have persisted for the last three years and greatly contributed to our mild winters. The oscillation remains in a cool or negative phase and won’t budge through spring. This pattern about 80% of the time results in less snow than average.
Indian Dipole: The Indian Ocean is warming up and temperatures are warmer than average. The waters are expected to be significantly warmer than average through late fall. Historically, this favors a warmer pattern in the East, at least to start the winter, thanks to a mild Pacific flow rather than bargaining any colder air from up north in the Arctic.
Our forecast: Warm and wet start to winter (no White Christmas or New Year’s Day unless we get lucky on the backside of a cold front and have a few snow showers that barely brush the ground) followed by a transition to colder and snowy weather after mid-February. We are guaranteed to have more snow than last year and it will come in one or two storms, but the total for the season will not come remotely close to average.
Upside or downside risk?: Only an upside risk AND that WILL ONLY COME at the expense of one storm during the end of the winter season that overproduces on snowfall. We don’t see ANY risk for a big snowfall through the beginning and middle of winter.