Snowy Days In The Winter Outlook?

Winter Outlook Ahead

A question we hear this time of year is “How bad will the winter be?” If you look at Farmer’s Almanac you’ll see mentions of “bone-chilling shivers” and a cold snowy winter. NOAA or the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has just put out the winter outlook which calls for a 70% probability of La Niña winter.

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Why does a La Niña winter matter? Quick Answer: Last year was a La Niña winter!!!  Last year and many other past La Niña winters brought some big snow events, one of which brought up to 10
inches to Brownsville and over 7 inches to parts of north Jackson in just one of a couple of snows that week in Mid February. This snow event lasted for several days including additional snowfall in the week to follow which was well over 4.1 inches total for any given winter season according to the 30 year average.

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La Niña takes place when what would normally be warmer surface waters in the eastern Pacific are driven further west by strong trade winds allowing for cooler water to circulate towards the surface in the eastern Pacific.1a La

This leads to more or a ridge over the western U.S. and more of a dipping of the jet stream southward over the eastern U.S. This is important as the jet stream drives our weather systems and has a big influence on temperature and precipitation.

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La Niña winters typically bring slightly warmer winters to our area but as we saw in last year’s winter, there can still be some localized short-term patterns that cause some bitter cold nights. And I’ve noticed some of our biggest single event snowfalls of which occurred in La Niña winters. So we might be slightly warmer this winter, however,  You and I will typically remember that one localized event that brought those single-digit temperatures or that big snowfall even though much of the rest of winter might be slightly warmer and hardly any snow. What do you remember about last winter? For most, it might be working with the shoveling snow off the driveway for a few days and the cold days that went with it.

*NOAA’s Winter Outlook Showing Probabilities Of A Warmer Winter Versus Wetter Winter. We are shown in the neutral zone for wet versus dry. 

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so, If this winter goes anything like last year’s La Niña winter,
we can expect the possibility of a big snow around February and slightly warmer temperatures on average. We still have to get conditions to line up right for a big snow but it has happened a few times in the last few years and typically happened in a La Niña winter. Despite the “warmer than average” potential. It has been my experience that most will still remember the one or two events that caused traffic problems or when the heater broke on a cold night. Being in the neutral probabilities here in west Tennessee can still mean big swings in short-term patterns giving way to snow and that is what I typically think about in these outlooks.

We look forward to getting you ahead of any winter troubles that may come our way this winter and as always, the StormTracker 7 Weather Team will do our very best to keep you ahead of the storm.

Brian Davis,

StormTracker 7 Meteorologist.


Categories: Weather