The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its annual Winter Weather Outlook today predicting normal snowfall and temperatures for the Midwest this winter season.
The entire Midwest is listed in the "equal chance" category in both precipitation and temperature, meaning there is not a strong or reliable enough climate signal to say either will be above or below normal.
"Their reasoning for the 'normal' winter is because many of the global signals utilized for trends toward colder or warmer, or drier or wetter through the winter season are just not showing anything definitive for the Ohio Valley," Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Jamie Simpson explained. "For the first time in a long time all of the global signals are neutral in respect to their effect on our part of the country for the winter season."
Warmer than average temperatures and ongoing issues with drought is predicted across the Southwestern U.S.
Ocean temperatures have been near average since last spring, according to the NOAA, so neither El Niño nor La Niña is expected to influence the climate during the upcoming winter.
"It's a challenge to produce a long-term winter forecast without the climate pattern of an El Niño or a La Niña in place out in the Pacific because those climate patterns often strongly influence winter temperature and precipitation here in the United States," said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center. "Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two. So it's important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter."
Simpson said snowfall amounts for Southwest Ohio will be dependent on weather systems occurring simultaneously with cold air.
"In other words a slightly different track of a potent system can make the difference between a lot of snow and just rain," he said.