Winter Weather Preparedness Week: What Another La Nina Winter Means for Our Forecast

This week is winter weather preparedness week in North Carolina and although we’ve had a few chilly days, we have not had to deal with any extreme winter weather… just yet.

The Carolinas are no stranger to winter weather. on average, Charlotte gets 4-6 snow or sleet events a year, while the mountains get more than 15.

The 30-year average snowfall for Charlotte is 3.5 inches — compare that to Beech Mountain where the average is 66.5 inches in a season. And as for records? The highest one-day snowfall total for Charlotte was set back in 1902 when more than 14 inches of snow fell on the city.

And as for the record for any populated city in the Carolinas? That belongs to Beech Mountain. 24 inches of snow fell over the course of 24 hours back in march of 2001. The next highest one-day total was actually set just last year — when more than 20 inches fell on January 1.

What’s interesting about both of these events is that they both happened during a La Nina season — when on average we see drier and warmer winters. and this year we are heading into our 3rd La Nina season in a row, which means trends are for a warmer than average and yup you guessed it — drier than average winter.

But it just takes one storm under the right conditions to bring winter weather to the Carolinas. we need cold air already in place by the time the storm moves in. the best way for the piedmont to get snow is from lows that develop south of the Carolinas — Typically in the gulf that moves north along the coast. the further inland — The higher the snowfall totals for the Piedmont.

Typically, we see these lows coming out of the Midwest. in this scenario, the Mountains will get snow, but the low weakens as it hits the Appalachians. this usually means rain or ice for the Piedmont.

Will Charlotte get another season with more than 4 inches of snow? Long-term outlooks are leaning toward a no on that one…but, it doesn’t mean it can’t happen. Just look at last winter. so make those winter preps now and make sure you are staying weatherwise.