Winter 2016-17 Forecast
By Brooks Barber | Released: Monday, November 21, 2016 at 7:00 PM
A summary of what we expect to see this winter and why…
As always, long-range forecasting is a difficult practice and predicting what will happen this winter is no exception. It currently looks like a weak La Niña will be in place for the winter months. The Arctic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) are both going negative as of the end of November, and this overall trend is expected to continue through the winter. Without getting too much into the science of what all of this means, these factors are expected to contribute to the cooler than average conditions being contained in the Midwest and Northeastern United States with warmer conditions in the west, southwest, and southern US.
Here is our Official Winter 2017 Forecast!
This winter probably will NOT be one to remember in terms of long stretches of record cold across large swaths of the country. With that said, slightly below average temperatures overall this winter will be possible across the Northern Plains, Midwest, Ohio Valley, Mid-Atlantic, and Northeast.
By the end of the winter season, temperatures will likely average out well above average in the Southwestern US. Near average conditions can be expected within a narrow corridor extending from Washington on down through Kansas and over to the Carolinas. This does not mean it will not be cold across this area; we expect to see a number of systems this winter that will allow cold, arctic air to push into these areas. But, by the time everything weighs out at the end of the season, things should be near average.
Wetter-than-average conditions will be expected in the Pacific Northwest as well as across much of the Midwestern states, Ohio Valley, and wrapping on up into the Northeastern US. Drier conditions compared to average are most likely in the Southwest and Southeast. Near average precipitation is expected elsewhere across the country.
Drought Conditions Worsen: Unfortunately, conditions this winter will not be favorable for drought conditions to improve in California as well as for the ongoing drought stretching across parts of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. At best, things will stay the same but the harsh reality is that the dry conditions will likely only continue to worsen across these regions.
At the end of November 2015, we had already seen a crippling, historic ice storm move through Central portions of the United States bringing some rather impressive ice accumulations to parts of Oklahoma and Kansas during the Thanksgiving Holiday. Obviously that is not the case this year!
The ice threat across the Central US should be much lower compared to last year. This is not to say there will be no ice storms, but currently the threat looks low, especially for anything compared to last year.
The greatest risk for at least one or more ice storms stretches from southern Missouri and Arkansas over towards the Mid-Atlantic region.
While this winter certainly won’t be memorable in terms of brutal cold, that does not mean some of us will not see a lot of snow!
Conditions look favorable for slightly above average snowfall in the Pacific Northwest and throughout the Northern Rockies, stretching on down into central portions of Colorado. This is good news for skiers! Snowfall in the rest of the southern Rockies will be around average to below average.
Slightly above average snowfall will also be expected in the Midwestern states, all around the Great Lakes and Mid-Atlantic regions. We expect to see the most significant snows this winter across the Northeastern US where above average snowfall is expected. Average to below average snowfall is expected elsewhere.
As almost always, it will be interesting to see exactly how this winter pans out for Kansas and the surrounding areas. Last year, with the exception of the blizzard in February and historic Thanksgiving ice storm, it was a boring winter. Overall it was a very warm and dry fall, but that definitely does not mean we will see the same for winter.
For the most part this should be the typical winter for Kansas. As usual, we expect to see several blasts of cold air with around average precipitation and snowfall.
With a weak La Niña and both the AO and NAO going into a negative phase being factored into our forecast, we expect that this winter season will average out to be just that, average, in terms of temperatures. We do expect a weather pattern to set up that will repeat itself frequently allowing for arctic outbreaks, but this is nothing abnormal for wintertime in Kansas.
This winter will likely bring around average snowfall overall statewide. Slightly higher than normal totals may be possible in the west. For the second year in a row we are releasing possible seasonal snowfall total projections for this winter. Please do take these projections with a grain of salt, as they are very subject to change and will likely differ from the actual season totals. In the graphics below you can see average snowfall on the left and our projections for this season on the right. For the projections, we have given a 10-inch range for select locations around the state with a +/- 5″ error margin considering this is our first attempt at this kind of forecast.
This year we expect to see as much as 30-40″ of snowfall in parts of northwest Kansas for places like Goodland and Colby where the usual average is about 2-3 feet. In the Hays (18″ Average) area as well as Garden, Dodge, and Liberal, 20-30″ will be possible. These are the areas that may see slightly more snow than normal.
For Metro Wichita (15″ Average), 12-22″ will be possible. Elsewhere across eastern and central Kansas, snowfall should be near normal (refer to graphic).
The ice storm threat this winter will be much lower than last winter. We cannot rule out the potential completely, but as of now the chance is low, especially for anything historical.
With average precipitation and temperatures, there is not much to say for the drought. Even though conditions have gradually worsened since summer across western Kansas, we are still in a much better place than we have been in terms of looking at the big picture over the last decade. This winter, there will be very little if any improvements for drought conditions in Kansas. If anything, things will stay the same or worsen slightly.
It is going to be exciting to see how this winter pans out across Kansas and the United States as a whole. While it probably won’t be a winter to remember in terms of snowfall and temperatures for most, with a weak La Niña and everything else factored in, it is still going to be interesting to see how things pan out. If you have any questions, please let us know by contacting us on Facebook or Twitter or send us an email here. As always, stick with Cirrus Weather for the latest winter weather information!