Winter Is Coming ... And It Could Be Warmer
Winter is coming -- and no, we’re not talking about Jon Snow.
But for the upcoming season, Nevada may not get as cold as usual.
Government climatologists are predicting higher chances of warmer weather. But how much warmer?
Stephanie McAfee is an Associate Professor and Nevada State Climatologist at UNR. She explained that when the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration creates the forecast, it looks at a number for factors, from current soil conditions to the trends of the last few years.
“Most of the last several years have been warmer than normal. That tends to feed into the forecast,” she said.
Since climate change -- along with the urban heat island effect -- has caused the western United States to be warmer over the last few years, scientists expect that trend to continue.
While they're able to say that, McAfee said they can't say how much warmer.
“'Warmer than normal’ doesn’t necessarily mean summer in the middle of winter,” she said.
NOAA also can't say for sure just how much rain and snow the West will get, and that is because the Pacific Ocean phenomena known as El Niño and La Niña are not expected to be present this year.
When El Niño occurs, Southern Nevada tends to get more rain, but when La Niña happens, there is less rain.
“Precipitation is really difficult to forecast in this part of the country, particularly when we’re not having an El Niño or La Niña,” McAfee said.
She said it is really a coin toss on whether the state will be getting normal, more or less precipitation.
Stephanie McAfee, Associate Professor and Nevada State Climatologist, UNR.