2022-23 Winter Outlook; Sponsored by Mi Paloma Mexican Restaurant

Written by: Chief Meteorologist Christopher White

Lead Forecaster Daniel Crawley

It’s the time that you have all been waiting for!

We are excited to release the 2022-23 Winter Outlook for the Foothills and Western Piedmont of North Carolina including the towns of Hickory, Shelby, Morganton, Marion, Forest City, Lenoir, Lincolnton and Taylorsville.

The Winter Outlook is a thorough investigation of local, regional and global weather events and how they might impact the weather in the eight county coverage area during the winter months of December, January and February.

Mi Paloma Mexican Restaurant, located at 131 Independence Blvd in Morganton is a proud sponsor of the Outlook.

Current Headlines…

Posted below is a list of current headlines that we feel likely will play a significant role during the upcoming winter season.

Predicting what could happen over a three-month period usually involves a global look at the weather pattern. A – ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) or more commonly known as “La Nina” remains in effect for the third consecutive winter season. A La Nina by noted by cooler than normal sea surface temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean. The blue shadings on the map below indicated that -ENSO signal.

La Nina during the winter months across the Southeast US usually associates with warmer and drier than normal weather.

While we have the La Nina in place there is also a signal across the Northern Latitudes that favor periods of high latitude blocking. Note the warmer SST anomalies off the West Coast and South of Alaska. Those anomalies tend to produce rising heights along the Western Coastline of North America. What that allows is the ability for cold air in the arctic regions to get dislodged into the United States more readily.

Our belief for this winter is these two global features may battle it out allowing for frequent, wild shifts in the synoptic weather pattern and where the cold air gets shunted toward…

Synoptic Patterns…

Here is a look at the primary synoptic pattern for the United States this winter. This is a jet stream pattern that we will see when the La Nina can assert itself. Storm systems will move in straight off the Pacific Ocean, across the Rockies and into the Southern Plains. With the flow not amped up, storm systems will favor tracking across the Ohio Valley and off the Northeast US.

This favors milder conditions across North Carolina.

There will be a secondary pattern at times this winter where a ridge of high pressure will center itself along or just off the West Coast, that will shut down the moisture pipeline to the West. Instead, northwest flow will send storm systems across the Rockies and digging down into the Southeast. This will drag down cold air further south and with the digging of shortwaves could result in increased cyclogenesis across the Southeast US, Gulf of Mexico or along the East Coast.

As of right now, current guidance hints that we could see this secondary pattern showing up during the early parts of the winter.

Winter Temperature Forecast…

Our temperature forecast for the winter is for temperatures over a three month span to be within a half-degree of normal. With the potential frequent swings in the origin of airmasses, we feel that numbers will ultimately try to negate themselves in a three month span.

Near normal temperatures for a season can still provide good winter weather opportunities. For our snow lovers, don’t fret at this forecast!

Winter Precipitation Forecast…

We are forecasting below normal precipitation for the winter months as this is the one aspect of the La Nina that has held firm most of this year. It’s been dry in recent months and we are seeing an increasing drought. With the expectation for dry weather to continue the drought may actually worsen some more before it improves.

Winter Snowfall Forecast…

The moment you have all been waiting for…

We are leaning toward snowfall amounts that will be at or just below normal for the winter season across the Northern Foothills and down to about US-74. Then once you get close to the NC/SC line it should be solidly below normal.

If you are a skier and visit the High Country often, we feel the potential is there for that microclimate to have a couple good northwest flow events so we have gone above normal. This primarily applies to those peaks on the TN border (Beech, Sugar, Roan Mtn, Buladean (Mitchell Co.), Green Mountain (Yancey Co). You probably noticed the golden shade in the French Broad River Valley from Hendersonville to Asheville to near Marshall. That microclimate has struggled in recent years to get significant snow events and that could be the case once again.

Local Averages vs Forecast…

The graphic below is from some of the population centers across the eight counties we cover. in the black print are the 30-year snowfall averages and in the white print is our forecast for the winter season…

That’s a look at the Winter Forecast for 2022-23 across the Foothills and Western Piedmont…post at the bottom is a video edition of the forecast…


  1. Temperature we expect will average within a half-degree of normal for the combined months of Dec, Jan and Feb
  2. Continued La Nina will keep precipitation amounts below normal for the winter
  3. Our secondary pattern will allow the opportunity to support periods of winter weather. We believe the region will end up with snowfall amounts within an inch or so of the 30-year averages. Remember, usually all it takes is one winter weather event to reach your climatological average!

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