The winter forecast

Good Sunday, everyone. With colder winds blowing, and a few snowflakes flying around, it’s a good day to focus on the upcoming winter. Will we see another mild and snowless one? Will the pattern revert back to the one that produced the huge snows a few years ago?

Let’s get into it.

The first thing you need to know is, this will not be a repeat of last winter. This November is a little colder than normal, standing in stark contrast to the blowtorch November from last year. That’s likely giving us an indication of where the winter is going.

Here’s are the headlines for the winter ahead:

Much of my forecast comes from a combination of analog years I’ve put together. These come from looking back at years that produced similar conditions to the current year we are about to wrap up, and also looking at the global signals. I then look to see how those following winters turned out to get an idea on where this one may be going.

The global signal that I like to look at comes from the equatorial Pacific. This year, we have a weak La Nina developing. This is where waters are a little colder than normal. This year’s La Nina is east based, just off the coast of Peru:

The east based La Nina signal is typically a colder look for us in the eastern half of the country.

I also look well to our north to see what, if any, blocking is setting up. Blocking high pressures over the arctic, Greenland or Alaska can often send cold air from Canada into the eastern half of the country. We are likely to see these blocks developing on occasion:

The overall temperature signal is normal to slightly colder than normal for the winter ahead:

That said, there is nothing “normal” about the temperatures I expect this winter. More on that in a moment.

What about snows? La Ninas usually average normal to slightly above normal around here. But, how do we get these snows?

It’s been several years since we have had true “clipper” systems diving in from the northwest. These are usually light snowfall makers around here and I think we break our clipper drought this winter:

The other signal for the winter is for a above normal precipitation across our region. That doesn’t mean it comes as all snow or all rain. This wetter than normal setup should increase as the winter wears on, with low pressure systems coming at us from the Gulf of Mexico. Some can bring rain, some can bring snow, and some can bring ice:

Each of those systems will be handled on a case by case basis. It’s all about the track of the low when determining what type of precipitation we get.

Snowfall numbers are a little above normal, but not by much:

Normal for Lexington is approximately 15″. If that forecast is going to bust, there is a greater chance for more snow than forecast than less snow than forecast.

Here’s your month by month breakdown:

Notice how I’m expecting a milder end to winter in relation to normal. Many of the years I’ve looked at had an early start to spring. Obviously, that has not been the trend of recent years, but this one may buck the trend. That could also set the stage for an early start to the severe weather season to go along with a flood threat.

Last year broke my streak of hitting three consecutive bold predictions. Here’s the call for this year:

Some dramatic temperature swings are likely for the upcoming winter.

Make it a great Sunday and take care.

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