It is the time of year when temperatures when the days are getting much shorter, temperatures are getting much cooler and the leaves are getting much more colorful. It’s also the time of year when I’m often asked about what we might expect to see this winter.
First, let me share the latest winter outlook from the Climate Prediction Center. They provide a rather general look at how the winter months will compare to what is normal in both temperatures and precipitation. The CPC outlook for winter temperatures shows that the ArkLaTex has a better chance of seeing above-normal temperatures during the months of December, January, and February. The precipitation outlook from CPC indicates that we have a better chance of seeing below normal rainfall.
Many things contribute to the type of weather patterns that we experience during the course of the year. One of the biggest players in determining our weather patterns are the temperatures in the world’s oceans. There are several SST (sea surface temperature) indices that are created. There is a correlation that exists between the temperature of various parts of the Pacific and Atlantic and the type of weather patterns that we see in the United States and throughout the world. You have probably heard of El Nino and La Nina, right? It appears that we are entering a La Nina pattern heading into this winter.
I looked at the ONI index (Pacific) and the AMO index (Atlantic). Looking back at data from these two indices that go back to 1950, I found that the state of the ONI and AMO are very similar to what they were back in 2016. That being said, it’s possible to create a certain degree of expectation for this winter by looking back at what it was like in 2016. So if this year is similar to 2016, we might expect to experience above-normal temperatures and below-normal rainfall. Not surprisingly, this is very similar to the CPC’s outlook. However, since I’m only looking at one year, I can also answer a few more detailed questions about the winter such as the warmest and coldest temperatures of the winter and whether or not it will snow.
So let’s go month-to-month and answer a few questions as to what we might experience in both Shreveport and Texarkana. If this winter follows the path similar to 2016, it appears that we could see our first freeze a little later than normal and then see a rather warm start to the winter months. Chances are that we will experience our first freeze in Shreveport during the last half of November. This is a little later than average. Both Shreveport and Texarkana will start the winter months in December with above-normal temperatures. The warmest temperatures of the month could be in the upper 70s to lower 80s. We could have a few rounds of cold with the coldest December temperatures in the upper teens to lower 20s. For you fans of snow, I’m sorry, no December snowfall was observed in 2016. The jury is split on rainfall with below-normal rainfall in Shreveport and above-normal rainfall in Texarkana.
We shouldn’t see too much change in the weather pattern for January. Both Shreveport and Texarkana could see well above-normal temperatures. The warmest temperatures of the month will again be in the upper 70s to low 80s. Again, we could have a shot or two of cold. Some of the coldest air of the winter will be felt in January with temperatures dipping well into the teens for much of the area at some point. When it comes to precipitation, again we have a split decision with below-normal precipitation in Shreveport and above-normal precip in Texarkana. Again snow fans…sorry, no snow.
If the weather patterns experienced back in the winter of 2016-17 continue into February, expect the warmth to continue. Both Shreveport and Texarkana will experience well-above normal temperatures. The warmest temperatures of the month could soar into the low to middle 80s. It is possible that much of the area could stay above freezing if February of 2017 repeats itself. The lowest temps of the month would be in the low to middle 30s. With the early beginning of the growing season, you might remember the summer of 2017 as the summer of the love bug. It will be interesting to see if history repeats itself. The precipitation outlook looks similar to that of December and January. Well below-normal in Shreveport and slightly above normal in Texarkana. Of course, with temperatures barely dipping below freezing during the month of February, snow again looks unlikely.
In summary, the current outlook for the upcoming winter is looking warmer than normal with below-normal rainfall for most of the area. Slightly above-normal rainfall is possible over the northern half of the area. Chances are that we will dip into the teens this winter, with our coldest air when you would expect it, during the month of January. If you are a fan of snow, it’s not looking too good. However, as of right now, the El Nino-La Nina cycle is also similar to where we were in 2000. Remember the ice storm at the end of December? Fortunately, water temperatures in the Atlantic are a bit warmer than they were back then. But you never know. Stay Tuned!