GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Another winter season is upon us and West Michiganders are bracing for whatever will be thrown our way.
WHAT IS THE STORM TEAM 8 PREDICTION?
Keep the gloves and shovels ready! Once again, this winter will likely average out to be colder and snowier than usual, especially in the second half of the season.
Warmer and quieter weather is likely to take over late November through the start of December. Snow and cold should ramp up in 2020 with the cold lingering well into spring, like last year.
By the time all is said and done, our meteorologists’ forecast is that winter 2018-2019 will average 1 to 2 degrees colder than usual.
- Emily Schuitema predicts: 87 inches of snow in Kalamazoo, 83 inches in Grand Rapids, 100 inches in Holland and 101 in Muskegon.
- Ellen Bacca predicts: 90 inches in Kalamazoo, 89 inches in Grand Rapids, 106 inches in Holland and 94 in Muskegon.
- Matt Kirkwood predicts: 95 inches in Kalamazoo, 94 in Grand Rapids, 112 inches in Holland and 103 in Muskegon.
- Terri DeBoer predicts: 82 inches in Kalamazoo, 85 in Grand Rapids 98 inches in Holland and 105 in Muskegon.
- Bill Steffen predicts: 83 inches in Kalamazoo, 81 inches in Grand Rapids, 105 inches in Holland and 88 in Muskegon.
>>Inside woodtv.com: Storm Team 8 Forecast
WHY IS STORM TEAM 8 LEANING COLDER AND SNOWIER?
A seasonal forecast is a culmination of many current conditions from across the globe, teleconnection patterns and a comparison to history.
A cooler than average winter is supported by the large amount of snow already on the ground north of Michigan. In October, North America saw the third highest snow cover on record. By Nov. 10, it was fourth highest, which is still quite high.
More snow means more cold air generation and an easier path to us here in the Mitten.
Another key reason we are leaning cooler than usual has to do with the ocean temperatures across the globe.
Right now, ENSO is in a “neutral” phase. Most people are familiar with ENSO being described as being in an “El Nino” or “La Nina” phase. This year, we aren’t in either. That usually allows other jetstream-steering influences to take over. The result is often a polar jetstream position that allows cold air to sink south over the Great Lakes.
Warmer than average sea surface temperatures off the Gulf of Alaska can also play a major role in our weather in Michigan too. Currently, the warmer than average pool of water there indicates a jet stream that would most likely dive into the Great Lakes, bringing cold air, snow and the chance of lake-effect snow with it.
Historically, this year is looking fairly similar to last year in many ways. For example, in both October 2018 and October 2019, there was a pattern shift from warmer than average to colder than average on Oct. 12. There are several other big similarities:
- September 2018: +3.3 degrees; September 2019: +3.5 degrees
- October 2018: -0.6 degrees; October 2019: -0.8 degrees
- November 2018: -5.5 degrees; Nov. 1-12 2019: -9.8 degrees
Precipitation was well above average in both September and October 2018 and 2019. Michigan is more likely to have a cold winter after a wet fall than a warm winter.
>>App users: Storm Team 8 takes your winter weather questions
WHAT IS NORMAL?
Every winter season is different in West Michigan, so it is difficult to define a “normal” year. The best we can do is look at averages.
If we average out all the winters, here is how much snow usually falls across the Mitten:
The breakdown by month shows that December usually gives us the most snow out of all the winter months.
Here are the temperatures our highs and lows usually bounce around each month:
- November highs usually fluctuate around 47 degrees, low temperatures usually bounce around 33 degrees.
- December highs usually fluctuate around 35 degrees, low temperatures usually bounce around 23 degrees.
- January highs usually fluctuate around 31 degrees, low temperatures usually bounce around 18 degrees.
- February highs usually fluctuate around 34 degrees, low temperatures usually bounce around 20 degrees.
- March highs usually fluctuate around 44 degrees, low temperatures usually bounce around 27 degrees.
HOW DID WE DO LAST YEAR?
Last year, Storm Team 8 was one of the only groups that called for a colder and snowier winter season with cold and snow lingering well into the next year. To see the prediction from last year, click here. The Climate Prediction Center expected a warmer than average winter for 2018-2019.
The season came in as cloudiest on record with colder than average temperatures and above-average snow for many, but not all:
- Grand Rapids saw 81 inches of snow, 6 inches above average.
- Muskegon saw 77 inches of snow, 17 inches below average.
- Kalamazoo saw 82 inches of snow, 4 inches above average.
- Lansing saw 39 inches of snow, 12 inches below average.
A visit from the polar vortex the end of January into the beginning of February was enough to launch many stations into colder than average territory. Wind chills dipped to -30 degrees with treacherous travel for a straight week.
The winter season seemed to linger through early May. Traces of snow were seen in West Michigan as late as April 29. Clouds, rain, and cold were slow to release their grip to more typical spring warmth.