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Winter outlook: Temperatures around average, but quite snowy

Posted at 10:59 PM, Oct 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-15 23:23:17-04

WEST MICHIGAN — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) just came out with its winter outlook for the United States. This outlook is for the months of December, January, and February of 2020-21. Although temperatures and precipitation will vary widely as compared to normal (or average) across the U.S., there are at least a couple of conclusions that can be drawn for how the coming winter may shake-out in West Michigan. Here is a look at the temperature forecast as compared to normal or average:

And precipitation as compared to normal or average:

With temperatures close to average expected around here (or equal chances of being above or below average as stated on the first graphic), most of the "wetter than average" precipitation predicted above should fall as snow for us.

One conclusion we can draw from the above information is that this coming winter is almost certainly going to be snowier than last winter. The winter of 2019-20 had only 53.5" of snow in Grand Rapids, which is about 21 inches below the long-term average.

A second conclusion we can draw is that this coming winter will probably be colder than last winter. The winter of 2019-20 featured temperatures that were almost 4° above average for the entire 3 month period of December through January, which is pretty impressive for an entire season. Odds are that we will not see a repeat performance of temperatures that warm.

As of now, a moderate La Nina is occurring over the eastern equatorial Pacific. This feature is expected to continue through the winter months. This typically means dry and warm weather across the South, with cold and snowy weather in the northern Plains. In addition to La Nina, we will have to watch other long-term weather determiners like the Arctic Oscillation (AO) and the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO). These could cause the above forecast to fluctuate.

Stay tuned to FOX 17 for updates!