FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — With winter just around the corner, it’s finally time we answer the questions that every meteorologist gets asked in October; “What do you think this winter will be like?”, “Will we see lots of snow?”, “Will it be a harsh winter?” All your questions will be answered as we take a dive through the Almanac, Folklore, and some research done inside the Weather Lab, but first, we have to start with what our atmosphere looks like right now. At the end, we’ll reveal our official 2023-2024 Winter Forecast. Let’s get started!
Large-Scale Weather Pattern
Every type of weather pattern we see is loosely based on some overarching weather pattern, El Niño, La Niña, or Neutral. Currently, we are in a moderate El Niño, which means the average sea surface temperature in the eastern Pacific is warmer than average, around +1.3ºC (+2.34ºF). This leads to a certain theme for the weather this winter, pictured below.
We also did some research analyzing El Niño Winters following 3+ years of La Niña, similar to what we’re seeing unfold right now. 1957-58, 1976-77, and 2009-10 were the only times we’ve seen this pattern. Below are the average temperatures and precipitation/snowfall totals throughout Meteorological Winter (Dec, Jan, Feb). We wanted to see if there was a common theme between them.
- 1957-1958: Average High: 48.8ºF & Average Low: 26.3ºF
- Rainfall Total: 4.60 in. & Snowfall Total: 3.9 in.
- 1976-1977: Average High: 47.0ºF & Average Low: 20.0ºF
- Rainfall Total: 4.41 in. & Snowfall Total: 14 in.
- 2009-2010: Average High: 42.9ºF & Average Low: 24.3ºF
- Rainfall Total: 5.79 in. & Snowfall Total: 21 in.
If we take the averages of these scenarios then we get an idea of the expected temperatures and precipitation totals below:
- Average High: 46.2ºF
- Average Low: 23.5ºF
- Average Rainfall Total: 4.93 in.
- Average Snowfall Total: 12.97 in.
If you compare those to the average values since 1950 then you can see the El Niño Winter pattern holds true.
- 70-year Average High: 49.3ºF
- 70-year Average Low: 26.9ºF
- 70-year Average Rainfall Total: 8.18 in.
- 70-year Average Snowfall Total: 6.5 in.
It’s a lot of numbers, but it’s important to analyze them to get an idea of what we could see this winter. What can we conclude from this research? We will likely be cooler and wetter than normal, and maybe even snowier than normal!
Now it wouldn’t be possible to tap into the cold weather if it weren’t for the Arctic Oscillation. This is responsible for turning on the faucet so to speak. There are two types negative and positive, seen below.
These changes happen when you get a slightly unstable polar vortex. Think of it like pushing a spinning top, everything is fine until one little thing throws everything all out of wack. Unfortunately, you can’t predict this more than a couple of weeks out.
Now enough with the science, let’s examine some old folklore for fun!
According to an old legend, the inside of a seed from a Persimmon fruit is said to predict how the weather will be for the winter.
There are some other old wives’ tales that are said to predict the winter.
According to what we’ve seen so far, Mother Nature is showing us the signs of a pretty harsh winter.
Now let’s take a look at something everybody is familiar with. The Farmers Almanac and the Old Farmers Almanac.
The Farmers’ Almanac predicts somewhere between an unseasonably cold and stormy winter, and a cold, snowy one. The Old Farmer’s Almanac suggests a cold and snowy winter, so if you love a Winter Wonderland, this might be the winter for you.
Your Weather Authority’s Winter Prediction
Drum roll, please… And now Your Weather Authority’s Official Winter Prediction!
We think since we’re in a moderate El Niño, we will likely see average temperatures 3ºF cooler than normal. We’re also expecting a stormy and wet winter, typically consisting of rain, sleet, and freezing rain, which can lead to an icing potential. We also expect to see slightly above-average winter snowfall amounts, but mainly coming from one big snowfall event.
If you want even more information about our official 2023-2024 winter forecast, check out our entire weather live stream below! We answer some of your questions and go into more specific detail!
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