How snowy and cold will it be this winter in central Indiana?


INDIANAPOLIS — Seems like the recent winters have paled in comparison to those you might remember growing up. The decade of the 1970s are often called the “mini ice age” and when the nastiest winter storm on record ravaged the state.

But recently snow and cold have been rather hard to come by.

Six of the past seven winters have produced above normal temperatures while each of the last seven sub-normal snowfall. Honestly the last real winter was 2013-2014, the 3rd snowiest on record.

Last winter we were on easy street well into the middle of February. Barely any snow fell through mid-January it had looked like we may have escaped unscathed. Then February showed up.

Following Valentines Day, the largest snow storm of the season hit with nearly 8” of snow deposited on the city and that was just the start. February would turn cold and snow through the end of the month and the month would end with 11.8” of snow. That accounted for nearly 60% of the entire snow season. Finally, with March behind us, April decided to act up and deposit 2.0” of snow on the 20th. Despite the late rally, the season would end once again below normal with a total of 24.2”

OCEAN TEMPERATURES could dictate what kind of winter we can expect again this year and phases of warm and cool ocean temperatures impact the upper level winds that steer our weather patterns here. The current phase is a cold one or what meteorologist call a LA Nina. While these spells have been identified over the years, research shows that winters here are typically favor milder temperatures and above normal precipitation. This will be the second straight winter where these conditions occur, so will this winter be just like last? Short answer is yes, probably or at least that’s what we are thinking!

No two LA Nina winters are the same but evidence supports a mild open to the season with real warming or above normal warmth in January. At the time of this post, there is growing evidence that we may even experience unseasonably warm weather in December with a possible 60-degree day or two. Similar to last year, the back half of the winter may afford greater prospects for snow and cold.

The first snow of the season has arrived and the weather pattern that we are currently in – could be the default for the entire season. High volatility, large temperature swings, more likely “clipper” storms diving in from the north and stretches of mild weather followed by brief cold blasts. Could we even experience some severe thunderstorms? While the seasonal outlooks are often fun to forecast, it can be a flip of the coin. One thing we can do as the Weather Authority is stay ahead of these changes scanning sophisticated long range forecast models, that are highly accurate out to nearly two weeks. For now sharpen the snow shovel and keep it handy though it may gather some dust before really being put to use.

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