Let it snow ... or not

Dec. 21, 2012 @ 06:20 AM

The odds are slim that High Pointers will welcome a white Christmas next week ­– whether it’ll even be a white winter is another question entirely.
Last winter, the High Point area didn’t record any snowfall during the season, the first time that happened in 20 years. The winter without snow was a turnabout from the previous season, when High Point enjoyed a rare white Christmas as several inches of snow fell on Dec. 25, 2010. The winter of 2010-11 featured an above-normal 10 inches of snowfall, according to National Weather Service records.
So what are the prospects for snow as winter officially begins today? After two unusual, back-to-back winters — heavy snowfall followed by no snowfall — this season may return to normal.
The two global weather patterns that can determine the frequency of snowfall in the Southeast United States aren’t expected to skew weather patterns this winter.
“The difference between this year and recent years was that El Nino and La Nina were a factor. That is not going to be the case this year, as they expected to stay neutral throughout the winter. Basically that means that the winter should fall more in the normal range, as opposed to below normal or above normal,” said Ryan Ellis, meteorologist with the National Weather Service office in Raleigh. 
El Nino and La Nina refer to patterns in temperatures along the surface of the eastern Pacific Ocean and air surface pressures in the tropical western Pacific. Changes in temperatures and pressures can affect weather patterns across the United States.
The projection for the High Point area ranges from a few snowfalls to none this winter, Ellis said.
A normal winter snowfall total for the High Point area is 7.8 inches, said Jack Boston, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.
“That’s an average over the last 30 years,” Boston said.
The central Piedmont’s best chance for snowfall this winter probably will take place between mid-January through mid-February, Boston said.
“That’s your primary window of opportunity,” Boston said.
The chance of a white Christmas is slim to none, with temperatures Tuesday expected to range from highs in the upper 40s to lows in the lower 40s.