NOAA Releases Winter Outlook

In my opinion, fall has been FANTASTIC, especially by October standards. Yes, we have had our share of cold evenings, even setting records in the beginning of the month, but temperatures have been relatively close to average. Our big drawback has been a lack of rainfall.

Last winter, as you may recall, was a cold and wet one. We had record setting snow events as well as bitter stretches of cold weather. A question that I am often asked is about the outlook for the upcoming winter. My early thoughts on that question has been that we are moving out of the El Nino cycle into a La Nina pattern, which will probably bring us into a slightly warmer pattern. As for the amount of snow or rain that we pick up, that depends. It will likely be a pretty standard winter as far as precipitation.

NOAA just released their winter outlook for this upcoming season which, in essence, describes the same scenario that I described earlier. For the Midwest, NOAA outlines an average precipitation outlook with an above average temperature trend.

To break this outlook down to something that we can use is fairly straightforward. The trend is for an average precipitation outlook and above average temperatures. That translates to most of us that we could see a lot more rain than snow, and after last year’s winter, I am sure that there are plenty of people that would welcome that outlook. Unfortunately, it likely won’t work out quite that way.

Certainly we could see it play out exactly like that. But it only takes a couple of well-time cold snaps along with appropriate moisture and we could see the heavy snow storms that we picked up last year (Christmas Eve comes to mind, as does the late March storm that dumped snow on us).

As you probably know, there are no guarantees when it comes to forecasting weather, and that especially true when you are looking long-term. While these outlooks are reassuring, we still need to be prepared to see plenty of days that will require some shoveling.

The truth is, we are down over 3.5 inches in total precipitation for the year, and could stand to pick up some moisture, no matter what form it comes down.