Another La Nina Winter?

Bill's Blog

Above is the global sea surface temperature anomaly (difference from average). A majority of Earth’s ocean water is a little warmer than average (yellow color). The warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, plus the continuing La Nina point to an above average number of hurricanes and tropical storms in these areas later this year. Interests along the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Coasts should pay attention to hurricane outlooks this summer and fall.

You can also see the La Nina…the blue colder than average water along and to the south of the Equator to the west of South America. While we had a winter with well below average snowfall in West Michigan…

Season Snowfall 2020-21 in West Michigan

…some places close to us actually had near to above average snowfall for this past winter: Detroit 44.9″ (-0.1″), Milwaukee WI 47.8″ (-0.9″), Fort Wayne IN 35.8″ (+2.2″), Chicago IL 48.8″ (+10.4″). So, in predicting next winter’s snowfall, we ask the question – will we still have La Nina? A couple models I look at say “yes”:

Canadian model sea-surface temperatures for Dec. 2021-February 2022

The Canadian model (above) shows the La Nina continuing. It also shows a continuation of the warm water in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean east of the U.S.

CFSv2 model – Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly for Oct. – Dec. 2021

This is the CFSv2 model for the late fall and early winter…same storm…La Nina, plus warmer than average water in the Gulf of Mexico and especially along the east coast of the U.S.

If some of the major parameters we look at are similar to last winter…we should use last winter as a starting point for this winter’s forecast. Couple things to keep in mind. The below average snowfall in West Michigan was largely due to the fact that we had little lake-effect snow (the west side of Lake Michigan got more snow than the east side!). When we got cold in February, the most significant lake-effect fell with a north – northeast wind…giving Chicago more snow than Muskegon or Grand Rapids. We had below average precipitation from mid-December thru January and some of that precipitation fell as (light) rain instead of snow.

While those who love snow and cold might have been disappointed in last winter – there were some good points. It was cold enough for ski areas to make snow and we didn’t have any crazy warm-ups with rain – ski areas had a good winter. We also didn’t get any major freezing rain events. We had a greater number of hours to drive on clear and dry roads.

It’s unlikely that the lake-effect will take aim on Chicago…it’s more likely that lake-effect will occur more often with the prevailing NW wind. So, it’s likely that we’ll see more snow in Muskegon and Grand Rapids than last winter, but at this point – we’re not looking at an exceptionally snowy or cold winter in 2021-22.

Rainfall Totals for N. Lower Michigan

Some hefty rainfall totals in N. Lower Michigan. Both Hart and Ludington had over an inch of rain…but not nearly as much in S. Lower Michigan, where many areas saw less than 1/4″.

Also: Major flooding in Alabama. Number of 90-degree days in the U.S. – using new climate normals. Huge rainfall totals in AL. Fiery WI sunset. Double rainbow. Ka-Boom! The heat island effect. Mammatus. Bright red clouds. Tree damage. Not a tornado. Not a tornado? Really heavy rain. Average high temperatures for the U.S. on July 23rd. Satellite pics. of Hurricane Katrina. Easy to tell that the soil is red clay. Water stored in CA’s snowpack is essentially gone–statewide value for May 4th is only 15% of avg. Hail shaft in Kent, England. Hail shower plus a rainbow. GIGANTIC hailstone. FIVE waterspouts in one picture. Watch this satellite view of thunderstorms exploding into existence in Texas. Could it snow in Denver again?

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