Rusty's 2017-2018 Winter Outlook

Published: Nov. 1, 2017 at 8:12 PM CDT
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As we head into the month of November, many are wanting to know just what our winter has in store. While there is no clear indication on how much snow there will be and just how warm or cold it will be, we are able to see which way the odds are leaning.

At the moment it looks like we’re trending towards a weak to moderate La Nina (colder temperatures in the waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean). What exactly does that mean for us? Well, it actually doesn’t tell us much about our weather. I’ve included a look at how a typical La Nina winter plays out. As you can see, the Omaha area sits in a spot where it really doesn’t tell us much.

I addition, here is a look at NOAA’s 2017-2018 Official Winter Outlook. It too doesn’t tell us anything specific for our area but gives a good look at the entire country. As you can see the Omaha area falls in the area of equal chances of a warmer than average, average, or colder than average winter. The Omaha area also falls in the same area of equal chances on precipitation as well.

If we go back and look at previous years when we had a weak to moderate La Nina, we can find a few trends on just how winter has played out in the Omaha area and hopefully get a better idea of what we can expect.

Overall I expect the winter to be slightly warmer than average but I expect the individual months to vary a bit. If you look at winters with a similar strength La Nina that is forecast, December temperatures tend to be near average or just below while January & February temperatures tend to be above average. I see no reason to argue with that. Compared to last year, I think we’ll be colder overall but still warmer than average like I stated earlier.

As far as precipitation goes, it doesn’t take much to top the 11-12” of snow we saw last season! That was well below the average of 26.4” that Omaha (Eppley) sees & the 33.6” that the NWS Office in Valley, NE measures each season. If you look at winters with a similar strength La Nina that is forecast, odds point to topping last year’s total snowfall but still staying below the average range across the area. That means the greatest odds fall in the 16”-26” snowfall range for us this winter. Take a look at the included snowfall probability graphic to see the range of odds for total snowfall for the upcoming winter!

Of course, this all hinges on La Nina becoming weak to moderate like current forecasts indicate. The track of each individual storm system will also play a large part in just how much snow we get too. Hopefully all of this sheds a little light on how this winter will try to play out. We’ll wait and watch!