Wednesday, October 5, 2011

This Upcoming Winter: Taken with a grain of salt

Accuweather has released their seasonal outlooks for this upcoming winter and it doesn't look good. After a brief discussion with a few colleagues, I've found that typical winter weather for our region (SE Michigan/NW Ohio) can have a very wide range -- spanning from snow showers in Hillsdale/Lenawee counties, to mixed precip. anywhere between Adrian and Perrysburg, and rain for folks south of Findlay. Of course this isn't true for every winter weather event, but keeping that in mind, we can look at these images with a bit of speculation and local knowledge.

According to Accuweather, areas of lower Michigan, the entire Great Lakes, and especially in Chicago can expect to see a particularly harsh winter. Lucky for us, we fall within a region that is only occasionally touched by heavy lake effect events (notice the areas of light blue), however, while we may dodge some heavier snow, I don't believe we can escape the cold.

Long range meteorologists are calling this an 'exceptional' winter, suggesting that some residents may pick up and move after the fact! All jokes aside, there is a certain amount of truth we can take from this forecast, while still being reasonable.

The presence of a La Niña weather pattern may also enhance the chance for some added severe weather. Earlier in the year, La Niña contributed to extreme weather around the globe, and more locally, the weather pattern helped provide extra snowfall during winter and springtime flooding. Now that La Niña has re-emerged in the tropical Pacific Ocean, it is forecast to gradually strengthen and continue into winter, enhancing the chance for some similar events.

A wider view of the map shows the Dakotas and the Great Lakes region under the 'Worst of winter cold & snow'. Yikes! The National Weather Service will release their seasonal outlook in mid-October.