Mike Hoffman's look at Old Man Winter

Winter means something different to everybody.

Many of you would prefer to have our winters warm and for it to snow less; of course, that means you should probably go south.

Some of you like snow only around the holidays and others really like the snow for playing and leisure activities.

Usually, our Michiana winters have something for everybody at some point or another and while nearby Lake Michigan has an influence, its other factors that dominate.

First we have to head to the Pacific where the temperature pattern of the ocean changes the flow of air, or the jet stream, heading into the west coast.

In this case, we are looking at La Nina; a pool of cool water stationed along the equator and basically the opposite of El Nino.

The jet stream likes to flow north of the warm water, so it is shifted way north during a typical La Nina usually into Southern Canada.

In this case, though, there is extra cold water in the North Pacific, so this flow might be a bit farther south.

Now, if La Nina dominated, I would have to go with a very mild winter, as the flow floods the lower 48 with mild air.

However, there are also factors in the Atlantic Ocean and one in particular is called the North Atlantic Oscillation.

While this is very tough to forecast, the Meteorological Office of the United Kingdom has had some success at it and are forecasting it to be slightly negative.

What does that mean for us? That means slightly colder temperatures.

However, this also probably means it flip flops a few times during the winter leading to brutal shots of cold air followed by big warm ups.

Thus, leading to a winter filled with storms of both rain and ice.

There are several winters from the late 40's and 50's, as well as more recently in 1998/99, which look like they had similar situations with La Nina.

These averaged fairly warm with much below normal snowfall.

I'm tempted to go that direction, but because of the Atlantic, I'm going to temper it a bit.

Here's my Initial Forecast for the Winter of 2007/2008:
• Temperatures will average about 26.9 degrees for December, January and February. That is about half a degree above normal, so slightly milder than normal.
• I expect it to be highly variable, more so than most winters.
• As for snowfall, I'm forecasting 71" through the season. That comes to about 5 and one half inches below normal.
• There should be more rain than usual and definitely no drought conditions come Spring.

Tune in to Newscenter 16 for updates to this winter forecast if I predict any variation. However, for now, this is what it looks like to me.


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