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While winter is still a couple months away, we are closely watching the ocean temperatures in the Pacific Ocean. The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center has issued a La Nina Watch for the upcoming winter.
So why is a La Nina Watch important in determining the weather we can expect this winter? A La Nina means that temperatures in the Pacific Ocean will be cooler than average, changing the jet stream. And for snow lovers in the Ohio Valley, La Nina winters typically feature cooler temperatures and wetter conditions due to the jet stream coming out of Western Canada and diving into the Great Lakes Region.
The last moderately to strong La Nina was the winter of 2010-2011. That year Indiana saw numerous winter storms and above normal snowfall.
So what does all of this mean for the upcoming winter? At this point it appears that a La Nina will take place this winter. The key is how strong does the La Nina get. Last winter we had a weak La Nina and the end result was a winter with below normal snowfall. If a moderate to strong La Nina develops this winter, chances are we will see above normal snowfall and below normal temperatures.
The Climate Prediction Center is giving about a 60% chance of a La Nina forming this fall and this winter. We agree, and our hedging our forecast that way.
So what are we forecasting for the upcoming winter? Here’s a breakdown:
At this point, it looks like we will see above normal precipitation and likely near to above normal snowfall due to the active Pacific jet. As the La Nina strengthens, the jet stream will likely become more active and that means January and February will likely be our busy winter months in terms of winter storms. We don’t expect the winter pattern to get real active in November and into much of December. So expect a drier than normal weather pattern to continue in November and the first part of December with above normal snowfall and moisture in January, February and into early March.
Temperatures in a La Nina pattern will often be near normal, but several shots of bitterly cold air are a good possibility, particularly as the La Nina strengthens by the end of January, February and into March.
While the last several winters have featured less than stellar snowfall, it appears that this upcoming winter should make up for that with at least near normal snowfall to possibly above normal snowfall.
We will have an update to our Winter Outlook on November 1st.