Winter is shaping up as warm and dry in the Carolinas and the rest of the South, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Climate Prediction Center said Thursday in its winter outlook.
The center predicts a 55 percent to 65 percent chance that a La Niña, a cooling of Pacific waters that influences U.S. weather, will develop for the second year in a row.
“If La Nina conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” Mike Halpert, deputy director of the center, said in a statement. “Typical La Nina patterns during winter include above average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the northern tier of the U.S. and below normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South.”
NOAA predicts drier than normal conditions across the southern U.S. and warmer than normal temperatures across the southern two-thirds of the country. Drought could develop in scattered areas of the South, it says.
The past two winters have brought above-average temperatures to much of the nation, including the Carolinas. The average temperature in Charlotte last January was 7.5 degrees warmer than normal, and the high reached 80 degrees in February.