After NOAA’s winter outlook, WKBN meteorologist says ‘not so fast’

WKBN examines the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's winter weather outlook

Snow plow drivers in Mahoning County worked to clear side streets before the single-digit temperatures.


BOARDMAN, Ohio (WKBN) – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration published its winter weather outlook. It says we could see above-average temperatures and a wetter winter.

Winter outlooks might sound like we are getting more snow or that it could be warmer, but be careful.

Climate predictions are completely different than short-term forecasting.

“A short-term forecast — I’m talking tonight and tomorrow — we’re pretty exact on, ‘Hey, our temperature is going to be this. We’re expecting this much rain. We’re expecting this much snow,'” said WKBN’s Chief Meteorologist Paul Wetzl.

Short-term forecasts are computed weather models whereas long-term forecasts are based on what we typically see.

“The longer-range forecast is more of a trend. It’s basically what you assume that some sort of trend is going to come together, be it get warmer, wetter, snowier,” said Wetzl.

In order to understand the difference in weather forecasting and climate prediction, you have to understand the math behind it.

Youngstown State University Mathematics Professor Lucy Kerns said it is almost impossible to pinpoint an exact temperature or snowfall total this far in advance.

“That concrete number is like that. It will be different than the actual number or mean we try to estimate,” she said.

That’s why long-range forecasts use ranges and percentages to guess the trends that we could see this winter.

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