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Walker anticipates warmer winter

Sunday, December 11, 2011

For those who love having a white Christmas, this year could be disappointing.

WTWO's Chief Meteorologist Jesse Walker said not to expect snow on Christmas Day.

However, that means warmer temperatures.

"We're going to have a slower start to winter this year," Walker said. "The first eight days of December this year were 14.7 degrees warmer than the first week of December last year."

He explained this winter is going to be warmer than the last four years. However, the temperatures will still be below average.

"The warmer period should last up to Christmas time," he said.

January will have below normal temperatures, but February will be the warmest month this winter, according to Walker.

Walker's 2011-2012 Winter Outlook calls for the first 2 or more inches of snow not to fall until after Dec. 12. He said there would not be as much snow at the beginning of winter. However, the overall snowfall will be near normal. The average snowfall is 16.5 inches. Walker's forecast calls for 16 inches of snow this winter.

Walker expects a few severe thunderstorm outbreaks due to temperature swings. Regarding an ice storm, Walker said Kentucky and Tennessee are more likely to get one.

"The best chance of a major ice storm will be south of here," he said.

Walker's Winter Outlook also said there will be a slow start to spring. He said there will be some cold and some snow in March.

In creating his Winter Outlook, there are 10 factors Walker takes into consideration. First, Walker looked at the La Nina pattern. He had to look at how strong it is, when it will peak, how fast it will fade and where it is strongest in the Pacific Ocean.

"This year's La Nina is forecast to be weak to moderate," Walker said in his Winter Outlook. "I doubt we hit the moderate category for very long this year unlike last winter. Many La Nina winters end up being warmer than normal for us in this part of the country."

He also takes into consideration the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), which normally lasts for 20-25 years. The "cool" phase of the PDO occurred from the middle of the 1940's until the late 1970's. The "warm" phase occurred from the late 1970's until about 2000. Now, the "cool" phase has began again.

"I believe this is going to keep us in colder winters for probably the next 10-15 years," Walker explained. "To give you an example, during the decade of the '90s all our winters were above normal. Since 2000, we've had 11 winters and eight of those have been colder than normal."

He also looks at Atlantic Ocean/Gulf of Mexico temperatures, North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Artcic Oscillation (AO), as well as hurricane seasons, snowpack in Canada and the United States, fall trends and sun activity.

"I also look at volcanic activity worldwide," Walker said. "We've had a couple eruptions in the past year-and-a-half in Iceland and Indonesia. When volcanoes become more active, the air becomes cooler, meaning our winters will be cooler."

After taking those factors into consideration, Walker comes up with "analog years," or years when things like La Nina, PDO, hurricane season and volcanic activity are similar.

Walker used the following years: '95-'96, '98-'99, '99-'00, '00-'01, '05-'06, '07-'08 and '10-'11. He gave each year a weight value and created a formula to come up with his 2011-2012 Winter Outlook.

For more information, visit www.themywabashvalley.com/winter-outlook.

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Jesse's usually pretty good, but I'd bet the farm that our average snowfall won't be 16.5 inches this year.

-- Posted by Dagnabbitt on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 8:47 AM

do you have the deed to the farm?.......LOL...... I hope it isn't to bad this year, I hope the water lines don't break this winter.

-- Posted by carebuttonbroke on Mon, Dec 12, 2011, at 10:23 PM

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