We’re well into the autumn season and so far it’s been packed with dry weather and wide swings in temperatures, primarily being warmer than average. These conditions are making many of us wonder what is to come this winter. Even though it seems far off, it will be here before we know it and it’s never to early to start looking forward at what is currently expected and begin to prepare and make plans for what all you need to get done before it arrives.
With that said, it is once again time for our first official forecast for the upcoming season, the Preliminary Winter 2015-16 Outlook from forecaster Brooks Barber. Please remember to take this forecast with a grain of salt and know that actual conditions will likely vary this winter from what this forecast projects. Refer to this as a possibility and remember to check in for our final outlook next month for an even more accurate look at what may be to come this winter. Now for the good part, here’s our Preliminary Winter 2016 Outlook!
Preliminary Outlook | Winter 2016 Headlines
- We still expect that El Niño will be one of the major factors in the conditions this winter
- A warmer than average winter is likely for most of the northern half of the nation with cooler than average temperatures across the southern portions of the U.S.
- Flooding may be an issue in California and parts of the southwestern U.S.
- One of the greater risks for ice storms compared to previous winters across portions of the country
- A great ski season is expected for parts of the Rockies
Preliminary Outlook | Winter 2016 Temperatures
Winter 2016 will likely be a cold one for much of the southern United States. Slightly below to below average temperatures are currently expected across the Southwest, Southern Plains, Gulf Coast, and Southeastern parts of the country. El Niño typically favors a warmer winter in the northern parts of the United States, and it looks like that should show through this winter with slightly above to well above average temperatures across the Pacific Northwest, Northern Plains, Midwest, and on up into parts of the Northeast.
Preliminary Outlook | Winter 2016 Precipitation
As for precipitation this winter, more drought improvement may be on the way for whatever is left of the drought in central and southern portions of the United States. Parts of California may also see improvements from the severe drought with wetter than average conditions expected from the Southwestern US through the Central and Southern Plains and into the Gulf Coast states and southeastern US. Severe flooding is also a threat for California and the southwestern United States due to the expectations for frequent rainfall. Below average precipitation is likely in the northwestern United States and parts of the Midwest, with equal chances for above or below average precipitation elsewhere.
Preliminary Outlook | Winter 2016 Ice Threat
Conditions this winter will pose a more significant risk for ice storms than we have seen in previous winters. While this is still uncertain, current signs point to an area from Kansas and the Central Plains through parts of the Mid Atlantic region needing to be on the lookout for more icy conditions this winter than usual.
Preliminary Outlook | Winter 2016 Snowfall
A great ski season may be in store for parts of the Rockies if things pan out as currently expected. Well above average snowfall may be possible across the Rockies in Colorado and New Mexico into the Panhandles and western Texas. Much of the rest of Colorado, New Mexico, parts of the Central and Southern Plains, Mid-South, and parts of the East Coast will have the potential to see above average snowfall. Slightly more snow than usual will be possible across the rest of the Central Plains, Southern Plains, Gulf Coast, Southeast, and northeastern United States.
Conclusion (Focused on Kansas Area)
We currently expect winter to arrive later in the season this year, with the brunt of the stormier conditions holding off until at least mid-January perhaps.
December should be warmer than average, with January being around average in terms of temperatures, and February being colder than average with colder temperatures potentially lagging on into the spring. In the end temperatures likely should average out for the season leaning slightly warmer in the far northeastern corner of our state with slightly cooler temperatures in the western and southern counties.
Even though it may be a warmer than normal winter, it’s going to be a wet one, too, likely ridding the state entirely of any drought conditions if things go as expected, at least for the short term.
It does look as if we may have a rather high risk for ice storms this year in comparison to the last few winters. We will continue to monitor this potential as the season approaches.
Most of Kansas will likely see at least average snowfall if not more snowfall than average (avg. is ~10″ in southeast Kansas to ~36″ in northwest Kansas / avg. is 18″ in Hays, 15″ in Wichita). The northwest, southwest, north central, central, south central, and southeastern portions of the state currently have the higher potential to see more snow than usual.
We will have a clearer picture on what this winter may bring for us as we narrow in on December and keep an eye on the weather pattern for the next month. With that said, let me please restate the fact that you need to take this Preliminary Outlook with a grain of salt and know that things will likely change in terms of what to expect this winter.
Thanks for reading, and let us know if you have any questions! Our final outlook for this winter will be the Final Winter 2016 Outlook and that will be released by the end of November right here on cirruswx.net.
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