NOAA releases winter outlook

Posted at 1:57 PM, Oct 17, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-17 13:58:21-04

SILVER SPRING, MD – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA) released their winter outlook today for the months of December, January, and February. In short, they are predicting above average temperatures for much of the United States (not necessarily the Great Lakes), and wetter-than-average across our region. Simply put, perhaps more snow than our average of around 75 inches.

Climatologists and long range meteorologists tend to study weather patterns, climate data, and upper level patterns when making long term predictions. It’s not so much a daily or weekly forecast, as it is a long term or extended trend. As eluded, some of this is based on current patterns, some on past weather or climate data.

One thing to note about the prediction this time, is the famous terms of El Nino and La Nina do not come it play. Recall that El Nino is a warming of tropical waters along equatorial regions in the western Pacific Ocean, and that La Nina is a cooling of those same waters. Those patterns (or water) tend to migrate east along the equator toward South and North America. It can/does force changes in the upper level jet stream that ultimately drives the type of weather we see across the nation (either wetter and/or colder). Both of these are now in a  neutral phase and are expected to remain that way into next spring.

There are other patterns and things to be looked at, but I won’t bore you with the details. A long and very technical story short, the map below (from NOAA) shows where the best chances of above normal temperatures are expected. Note the Upper Midwest, Northern and Central Plains, and Western Great Lakes are under “EC”. Unfortunately, their conclusion for west Michigan are “equal chances” of below normal, normal, or above normal temperatures.

The next image from NOAA (below) is for precipitation. Through the winter months of December, January, February, they expect above normal precipitation (mainly snow) across the Northern Plains, Upper Midwest, portions of the Great Lakes, and the Ohio Valley (or at least the chance thereof).

I’ll stress that this is only about a 40 percent chance, which isn’t too high. And again, these predictions are based on long term climate data and  weather patterns, so it isn’t necessarily reality. There have been a fair amount of folks asking over the past few weeks what we expect for winter, so this is the consensus. Find the link to their complete story here.

While I neither confirm nor dispute their findings, I applaud NOAA and the National Weather Service for the information and forecast they provide on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. They are a valuable resource for many of us in the business and the general public. They issue watches, warnings, and advisories for all weather, all year, for all parts of the United States. Many times, they have access to information with weather spotters, river levels, and emergency management centers that the media simply does not. They have been providing forecasting services since February 9, 1870. They certainly know a thing or two.

Get our complete West Michigan forecast, including current temperatures, satellite, interactive radar, and 7-Day at