Weather forecast isn't optimistic
October 22, 2020
NOAA’s new winter outlook calls for equal chances of above, below or near normal temperatures and precipitation across south central Nebraska and north central Kansas this winter. Though that may sound ambiguous, the driving force behind the outlook is La Nina in the Central Pacific Ocean, which does give some more insight into how the upcoming winter may play out.
What specifically is the Winter Outlook?
The winter outlook is for the months of December, January and February. The outlook is a prediction of the likelihood of above, below or near normal precipitation and average temperature for the entire three-month period. It is released each October.
What factors influenced this year’s Winter Outlook?
The primary factor was the presence of La Nina conditions in the Central Pacific Ocean. La Nina occurs when the sea surface temperature is below normal (cooler). The expectation of La Nina to strengthen through the mid-winter and continue into early spring gives confidence and insight into expected winter conditions.
What is the temperature outlook for the winter of 2020-21 in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas?
The outlook calls for equal chances of above, below or near normal temperature for the three-month period. However, given La Nina influences, there are some things to consider:
• Should warmer than normal temperatures develop, they are most likely across southern and western Kansas.
• Weather systems are more likely to travel from the northwest to the southeast resulting in an increased frequency of frontal passages.
• Temperatures will likely show a great deal of variability with several periods of below and above normal temperatures throughout the winter.
• Watch for a slight increase in the amount of windy days.
What is the precipitation outlook for the winter of 2020-21 in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas?
The outlooks calls for equal chances of above, below or near precipitation for the three-month period. Once again, La Nina can provide some additional insight:
• Look for potentially more precipitation in December and January vs. February, which is favored to be drier.
• As a whole, La Nina winters generally tend to be a bit drier overall, especially for southern areas of the Plains.
How much snow will fall in south central Nebraska and north central Kansas this winter?
As always, the prediction of snow is challenging. However, La Nina winters tend to be slightly lower snow winters (below normal) in general. Also, the region may see more frequent light snow events, rather than heavy snow events. Finally, the second half of the winter is often much drier, thus implying Nebraska and Kanas may see the majority of the wintertime snow in December and January.
Will the Winter Outlook impact the ongoing drought conditions?
Drought conditions are expected to continue or worsen in areas already experiencing drought, which includes most of Nebraska and parts of Kansas.
NOAA expects the drought to expand across the central and southern Plains from Nebraska to Texas through the end of January.
Can NOAA really predict the upcoming winter?
Well, predicting specific storm systems or exact snowfall amounts is virtually impossible. However, the long term trends and climatic influences, such as La Nina, do give some indication of which way the winter may go. Only time will tell.
Where can I find more information?