Ready or not winter is on the way to Indiana but what kind of winter will we have?
INDIANAPOLIS — Is it the most wonderful time of the year? For many people, winter is their favorite season. Many depend on it for money, others because it’s romantic and for the little ones, FUN!!! As a kid, did you EVER have a bad snow day?
Sure, an occasional storm and shots of arctic air often bring some big headaches too, but recent winters don’t measure up to those in the 70s.
The decade of the 1970s is 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 had sub-normal snowfall. Honestly, the last real winter was 2013-2014, the 3rd snowiest on record.
Generally, most of the snows that fall are within the one-to-three-inch range, and those usually bring on the most accidents.
Indiana’s 2021-2022 Winter Season
Last year, we had only two one-inch snows. The first and the worst came February 3rd when 8-12″ fell across central Indiana. That was the storm that surged from the panhandle of Oklahoma. That one storm accounted for nearly all the season’s snow. We had one more and that came in mid-April! For a mere total of 11” of snow. Half the normal.
La Niña winter drives the jet stream
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 meteorologists call a La Niña. While these spells have been identified over the years, research shows that winters here typically favor milder temperatures and above-normal precipitation. This will be the THIRD straight winter where these conditions occur, so will this winter be just like last? The short answer is yes, probably, or at least that’s what we are thinking!
No two or three La Niña winters are the same, but evidence supports a chilly open to the season then warming or above normal warmth in January. Like last year, the back half of the winter may bring greater snowfall – remember our largest storms over the past two seasons came in FEBRUARY!
The first snowflakes of the season have already arrived, a full four weeks earlier than last year but the winter weather pattern we’ve recently experienced could be the default for the entire season.
That means 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 will do 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.