La Niña will be our main weather force this winter in Central Illinois.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center released its official winter outlook late last month and confirmed that the phenomena will be in place from December to February.
Matt Barnes of NOAA in Lincoln says that correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation when it comes to the phenomena bringing an unusual winter here in Central Illinois: “I want to point out that the correlation between a La Niña or an El Niño and Midwest weather is pretty weak, and it actually varies from event to event. Just because we have a La Niña doesn’t automatically assume that we are going to get a certain type of winter. It can vary depending upon the strength of the La Niña, the location of it. There is so many different variables that there is really no one-to-one correlation between La Niña and our weather here in the Midwest. It’s not as simple as that.”
Barnes says the the trend is showing above-normal temperatures this winter: “We are trending towards above-normal temperatures in most locations. It doesn’t necessarily mean that these temperatures are going to be tremendously above normal. It means that we have a probability – we are leaning toward having above normal temperatures; and those above normal temperatures might just be one degree above normal, so it may not be incredibly significant. The other thing to note here is the colder than normal temperatures across the northern Plains back into the northern Rockies are very indicative of what a normal La Niña pattern looks like.”
Barnes also says to look for more precipitation in whatever form from December to February: “The Great Lakes and Ohio Valley into Illinois, we are trending toward above-normal precipitation. Much of the South and the Southeast looks like they are going to trend to below-normal. For this official outlook, we are looking at the probability above-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation.”
NOAA Forecasters classify this winter as a double-dip, because La Niña winter was here last year. Using a less-than-scientific method, the Farmer’s Alamanac says expect normal snow fall this winter and some milder temperatures. Overall, NOAA forecasters say it is a good idea to prepare for the worst and hope for the best.