WEB EXTRA: What to Expect for the Winter Season - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

WEB EXTRA: What to Expect for the Winter Season

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In trying to get a handle on the overall outlook for our upcoming winter season, we first need to look backward before we can go forward. In 2009-2010, we experienced the 5th coldest winter on record followed by a record snow the following winter in early 2011.

Then the pattern did a 180 degree turn and we experienced one of the warmest winter's on record just two years ago.

So what’s behind these extremes from one year to another and even month to month? Here it is--the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the key factors that drive our weather, especially when it comes to forecasting seasonal outlooks.

The big question now is whether sea surface temperatures in the pacific are warmer than normal (El Niño) or cooler than normal (La Niña).

Its current state is critical in determining the kind of winter we will have. Since last year the Pacific Ocean has been neither exceptionally warm or cold, it’s been neutral.

Some even call it the La Nada state, basically near-normal sea surface temperatures. The neutral condition is often when we’ve experienced more extreme weather conditions and long-range forecasting can be even more unpredictable.

Will it be cold or warm, wet or dry, or somewhere in between this winter season?

The climate prediction center has Green country with a little higher chance of seeing slightly above normal temperatures through March. While the center has been consistently forecasting above normal temperatures for eastern Oklahoma most of the year, that hasn’t been the case instead we’ve been experiencing cooler than normal temperatures.

So with La Nada expected to stick around through early next year, I don’t think we will see our temperatures change much in the coming months.

Does that mean more moisture if it remains cool? The climate prediction center actually has a large portion of the nation, including Green Country, included in an area with equal chances for precipitation.

That means we could go either way: below or above. Considering what kind of year we’ve had so far, I’m going with more moisture coming our way. But will it be rain or snow? We actually may be in for one of those years where we are right on the border of the rain/snow line and you know what the result can be: ICE.

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