It's time for my annual Winter Forecast, and it couldn't look any more different than last year. Last year you might recall we had our 2nd coldest winter on record. I don't think we have to worry about that this year.
This year winter officially begins on Dec. 21st, however in the weather world we consider winter to be December, January and February. Those three months are averaged together to figure the winter forecast.
When December through February are averaged together, our average high is 51 and average low is 27 degrees. I think we will be warmer than that this year. That's not to say we won't have cold snaps, but when averaged together I'm forecasting a milder than normal winter.
This year's winter will be influenced by El Nino's sister, La Nina. La Nina is when the Pacific Ocean surface water near the equator is cooler than normal. That forces the northern jet stream to move northward, channeling more storms and cold weather into the northern half of the country. Which means the southern half is in for a mild and dry season.
The Pacific Northwest will be wetter than normal, the upper plains, Great Lakes and northeast will be colder than normal. The south will be drier and milder than normal. Here's another way of looking at it: the entire northern United States will be where most of the snow and cold weather is. The southwest and southern California will be very dry, and as I said already, the south will be mild and dry. In between the cold and mild zone will be a wintry battleground. This will be where the cold air will try to penetrate the south causing ice storms. The wintry battleground will run from Colorado and New Mexico, across northern Oklahoma and all the way to New England. That's why I'm forecasting at least 3 ice storms across northern Oklahoma.
The southern plains will escape the worst of the winter weather compared to last year. Last year we received 22.8" of snow! Our average snowfall for winter is 9". I'm forecasting 5" of snow this year. Most of the time I think it will be too warm and too dry for snow.
Again I remind you, just because I'm forecasting a mild and dry winter, doesn't mean we won't get an occasional snow or ice storm and a cold snap. It just means that averaged together, December through February will be mild and dry. So with that said, here is my forecast in a nutshell:
Eastern Oklahoma's winter of 2010/2011 will be mostly mild and dry, with 5" of snow, and at least 3 ice storms.
On the bright side, this could mean cheaper heating bills!
Happy Winter everybody!
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