There’s little question that last winter was a dud for most states, with the overall dry winter transitioning to a dry spring and summer. Now, producers and consumers are looking to the 2012-2013 winter season for drought-busting precipitation, but with the dwindling development of El Niño, winter forecasts instead appear to be favoring a drier-than-average winter...again.
AccuWeather was the first to announce its winter forecast, initially releasing it in August and updating it again two months later in mid-October. Forecasters there expect below-average snowfall from the Corn Belt into the Northwest. The northern Plains and upper Midwest can also expect mild temperatures, thanks to the spotty snow cover.
"Across the Upper Midwest, cities like Chicago, Minneapolis, I think, are going to miss out on the big systems down to the south as far as snowfall goes. I think they are going to have to rely on more clipper systems coming down out of the north and west," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said in the report available here.
Clipper systems are quick-moving storms that dip into the U.S. from Alberta, Canada. Often, they are not big snow-producers.
Similarly, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its winter forecast last week, and their experts also believe that the odds favor warmer-than-average temperatures for Texas, northward through the Central and Northern Plains and westward across the Southwest, the Northern Rockies, and eastern Washington, Oregon and California. Drier-than-average conditions are expected in the Upper Midwest, including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa and northern Missouri and eastern parts of North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and western Illinois.
El Niño – or the lack of its development – is quickly becoming one of the more difficult aspects to the forecast.
“This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “In fact, it stalled out last month, leaving neutral conditions in place in the tropical Pacific.”
Anthony Lupo, professor and chair of the Department of Soil, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Missouri (MU), takes the forecast one step further. Lupo predicts that the Midwest will experience between 4.75 and 6 inches of rainfall and about 15 inches of snow this winter. If his prediction is correct, there will not be enough moisture to reach deep into the soil.