By KATE COIL
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Early indicators suggest a warmer-than-average winter for the region this year.
Robert Stonefield, meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Blacksburg, Va., said present climate predictions indicate a decent chance at above-average temperatures during the 2012-2013 winter.
“Our current projections from our Climate Prediction Center have a 40 percent chance of above-normal temperatures,” he said. “There is no real significant signal on precipitation, so we can’t really predict in advance if that will be above or below normal. Of course, all of this is subject to change. The closer we get to winter, the more accurate our predictions can get.”
Stonefield said impact from the climate pattern known as El Nino may have some bearing on the precipitation amounts and temperatures this winter.
“We are looking at a neutral or El Nino type effect where there is warming in the equatorial Pacific,” Stonefield said. “The El Nino episodes often produce warmer-than-normal years.”
According to Stonefield, weather in previous years cannot be used to predict how much snow or how cold this year will be.
“Even during the last three winters, we saw a wide range of cold temperatures, and then it was warm last year,” Stonefield said. “There were different snow amounts for the past three years. There is no indication that the winter last year will be the same as this year.”
A colder start to fall doesn’t always mean a cold winter is in store, Stonefield said.
“It is usually abnormal for early autumn for this cold start, but that happens from time to time,” Stonefield said. “Just because it is getting cold earlier doesn’t mean the winter will be cold. Things could change as we get closer to the winter.”
— Contact Kate Coil at firstname.lastname@example.org