July 28, 2014

Climatologist: Snowfall this winter will be normal to above-normal

Snow-SUVSome almanac-style publications are predicting a horrible winter ahead, while others forecast it’ll be warmer than normal.

Nebraska State Climatologist Al Dutcher is calling for something down the middle of the two extremes. Dutcher says there is no El Nino or La Nina event underway now, so he expects the current near-normal weather pattern to continue.

“We’re probably looking at a normal-to-above-normal snow year,” Dutcher says. “We’re looking at some very distinct periods of significantly-below-normal temperatures with interspersed periodic warming.”

Dutcher says he expects big storms to again develop in the Pacific Northwest and head toward the central part of the country — with some of them plastering Nebraska.

“The Gulf of Alaska storms have been very strong,” Dutcher says. “You see surface temperatures above normal in this region that are supporting very strong storms and as long as that continues, we’ll continue to see these big storms coming into the Pacific Northwest, sometimes they’ll move north of us, sometimes south.”

Overall, Dutcher says that pattern for the past 12 months has been 2-to-1, cold-to-warm, with essentially eight months of below-normal temperatures and four-months of above-normal temps. Over the last several weeks, Nebraska’s seen roller-coaster weather, with extreme cold followed by extreme warmth.

“The key is, the cold outbreaks are overwhelming the warm outbreaks, meaning, when we do go below normal, we’re well below what we’re seeing on the above-normal side,” Dutcher says. “The general trend has been, cooler than normal, and I don’t see anything breaking that pattern down.”

The Farmers’ Almanac, published back in August, is predicting a winter with below-normal temperatures for about two-thirds of the country, including Nebraska and much of the Midwest. Editors say: “It’s going to be one of those rough, old-fashioned, very chilly, very cold, snowy winters.”

By Susan Risinger, WJAG, Norfolk