How severe of a winter is ahead for Nebraska? Nobody knows.
Long-range forecasts predict the Pacific Ocean’s surface temperatures will cool, leading to a La Nina pattern, though we’ve had a strong El Nino, or warming of the waters, the past few years.
Climatologist Al Dutcher, at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, says that La Nina has yet to develop.
“Sea surface temperatures have really not moved much in the last 60 days,” Dutcher says. “If we’re going to see any movement and start to see this thing intensify, it should occur over the next couple of months. If it doesn’t, than most likely, we might be looking at a scenario like we did with this previous El Nino event where it was overplayed too much the first year and then it all came back with a vengeance the second year.”
Dutcher says there could be a weather pattern change in the next few weeks — or not.
“If we look at the typical expectations,” he says, “we’d be drier and warmer conditions during the fall harvest, with the wetter conditions establishing itself over the eastern corn belt, which is a 180-degree shift of what they’ve been experiencing most of this growing season which has been very dry.”
The type of winter we see, he says, will depend on timing.
“In the wintertime, it really boils down to when do we see the cold air come in and when we see that cold air come in, what type of pattern do we have with it?” Dutcher says. “Are we going to see an immediate snowstorm and have that laying on the ground the entire winter or are we going to sit the cold in here before we start to get precipitation and set a decent frost depth? Until we know those issues, it’s hard to make a good forecast.”
Dutcher says there is concern the development of a strong La Nina system could lead to very dry conditions next spring.
By Jerry Oster, WNAX, Yankton