Winter Forecast: Warm, typical rain and a bit of snow

It’s by far the most requested forecast. What will this winter be like? Will it snow? / MGN Online

MACON, Ga. - It’s by far the most requested forecast. What will this winter be like? Will it snow?

I wish it was as easy as snapping our fingers to make it snow. But we know it’s not. If the conditions are perfect, we can get some winter weather in Middle Georgia. How are the odds looking this year?

For this year’s winter forecast, I’m using three variables: the developing La Nina, the amount of Arctic sea ice and the fact that we’ve had a very active hurricane season.

Let’s start with La Nina. We’re referring to the water temperatures off the west coast of South America. They are below average. That trend will impact weather patterns in the United States this winter.

I’m also looking at the amount of ice in the Arctic, which reaches its minimum in September. The Arctic is like a refrigerator for cold air. The more sea ice you start with, the colder the air can become over the course of the winter. We’re starting with the sixth smallest amount of sea ice on record.

And finally, we’re coming off a very active hurricane season. Global weather patterns are responsible for hurricane season activity, so we examined how those patterns could impact the upcoming winter.

Based on those parameters, and comparing what we expect this year to previous years, it’s pretty clear that temperatures will be slightly warmer than average and precipitation will be near average.

Winter is Georgia’s fastest warming season. Locally, Middle Georgia’s average winter temperature has held steady for the past few decades. However, we are seeing less extreme cold than we used to. It’s that recent change in our climate that adds some difficulty to seasonal forecasting.

Don’t be surprised when the mercury drops and we’re all shivering, but the season as a whole is likely to trend warm.

What about snow? For the years we looked at, only a third of them had no snow at all. Half saw a trace of snow – in other words, it snowed but wasn’t measurable. Only two of our analogs years saw measurable snow.

Our forecast includes snowflakes, but the odds of being able to measure them are slim to none. We should add that some studies show winters like we expect see a better chance of ice storms, especially northeast of Macon.

That’s it! A little warmer than average and near-average rain. And yes, maybe a few snowflakes.

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