© 2019 Terry Swails

COLDEST AND SNOWIEST WINTER SINCE 2013-14....

November 13, 2018

November is off to a wintry start around the central Midwest. The average temperature in Cedar Rapids (38.5 degrees) is running 6.5 degrees below normal through the first 11 days. Many spots in my local area have had 1/2 to 3" of snow. That may not seem like much but it's significant when you consider most areas don't see their first inch until early December.

 

As chilly as its been, it pales in comparison to November 1991. Through the first 11 days that year the average temperature was 21.8 degrees! The month went on to finish 6.3 below normal with highs on 6 days 30 or below. After today, this November will already have 4 of those days. The only November with more is 1991.

November snowfall in 1991 was very impressive with 7.6" falling, 7" of that coming down on the 23rd.

 

After I examined the numbers on 1991 I was more than curious to see how the winter turned out. With that much cold and snow you might think it would be pretty ugly. However, the numbers speak truth and an amazing flip left the following winter warm and relatively snow free. Get this, the average temperature of 28.6 in Cedar Rapids made 1991-92 the 4th warmest on record. Only 18" of snow fell after November 30th. Big reversal!

 

The reason 1991-92 turned out so mild? A strong El Nino centered off the coast of Peru came to life. You can see how it blow torched much of the nation during the winter below.

It's a well documented fact in years where a traditional El Nino dominates the winter, November's preceding are generally colder with above normal snowfall. After that the westerlies take hold in December limiting cold and snow into spring. 

 

This year there is an El Nino developing raising the question, does the pattern flip for the Midwest as it did in 1991? My guess is no based on the type of El Nino (weak Modiki) and the presence of unusually warm air in the Gulf of Alaska and north Pacific. I've gone over the ramifications of this numerous times but in a nutshell I expect those 2 factors to produce a western ridge that dominates the winter. If we build the western ridge, the cold will come. 

 

To that end, the latest monthly and seasonal outlooks from the JMA are in and they certainly have a cold look. Here's the months of December-February. The ridge is a prominent feature in all 3 months driving cold into the eastern 2/3rds of the nation.

 

December

January

February

The CAS soil moisture outlooks for winter are also bullish on both cold and snow in the central Midwest. Interesting! The temperature and precipitation forecasts for December-February below.

All things considered, I think the ingredients are coming together for the coldest and snowiest winter since 2013-14. Time will tell. Roll weather...TS

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