Looking ahead to winter

Looking ahead to winter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Although we're just halfway into meteorological fall, we're already looking at weather patterns that could give a glimpse into what winter will bring.

The last two winters in the U.S.were warmer than average, with last winter ranking as the 6th warmest on record and the winter before that was the warmest on record.

That's not to say that this winter will be one for the record books. This week, the Climate Prediction Center released their winter outlook and their thinking is that this will be a warmer than average winter for the southern half of the nation including the Mid-South.

Their reasoning for the prediction is based primarily on two things, one is an increase in carbon dioxide or CO2 in the atmosphere.  CO2 is a greenhouse gas that traps heat traps heat in the troposphere keeping surface temperatures warmer.

The other factor is a developing La Nina.  This is a cooler than average water temperature along the equator in the Pacific.  This allows drier air to flow along the southern half of the U.S.

Drier air means less precipitation resulting in a drier landmass.  A drier landmass will then absorb more incoming solar radiation, which is then released back into the atmosphere to heat the air near the surface leading to above average temperatures for the region.

That's not to say that this is expected to be another record-setting warm winter but given these two primary factors, it could certainly lead to a mild winter at the very least.

There are many other factors that could come into play but at this time it looks like winter could be mild once again here in the Mid-South and for much of the southern half of the nation.

Now, we wait and see.

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