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Meteorologist Mike Hoffman’s Winter Outlook for 2020-21

Published: Nov. 25, 2020 at 9:39 PM EST
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SOUTH BEND, Ind. (WNDU) - By this time last year, we had already had 7″ of snow, 2″ above normal. This year, we’ve had just 1.3″ so far. So last years worst came at the beginning, and then also at the end, as winter just seemed to hang on through spring. The winter we’re heading into now will be a La Nina winter, which features colder than normal water near the equator. They typically have HUGE swings in temperatures around here. We also have some milder than normal water over the northeast Pacific, which is actually very unusual for a La Nina winter. In fact, I wasn’t able to find another one from the past quite like the current situation. That obviously makes this a tougher than normal winter forecast. Right now that milder water is in an area where it could swing our temperatures either way. If it shifts a bit east, we could go into the deep freeze for a while...a westward shift would increase our chance for milder temperatures.

Four weeks ago, I used weak to moderate La Nina’s from the past to compare to this season. It now appears that this La Nina may be a bit stronger, so I adjusted some of the years that I looked at. I still have 2010 as my favorite year from the past, then 1973, 1995, 1998 and 1999. For temperatures, 3 out of those 5 were milder than normal, although 2010 was one of the colder years. This makes me worried, though, that milder air could dominate more than I think...so I’m tweaking my forecast just a bit. As for snow, 3 out of these 5 years had less snow than normal, although not by a bunch. The other 2 had above normal snowfall...one being huge with over 105″. That happens to be 2010, the year I see as the closest to this year. Plus, I believe we’ll be in the “battle zone” a lot, which means potential snow and rain storms coming through the Ohio Valley and lower Great Lakes. With that in mind, I’m going to keep my snow forecast the same.

So, my forecast for the winter of 2020 and 2021 is for temperatures to be about normal...just 0.5 degrees above, and for snowfall to be about 3.4″ above normal at 70″.

With what I’ve described above, there is always the chance that we go into a 3 or 4 week VERY cold, or VERY mild, period during the heart of winter. If that happens, it can swing these numbers in one direction or the other. It does look like we get a wintry start to December. Whether that lasts through Christmas, or not, I’m not sure. But I do expect the pattern to switch to a milder one at some point later in December. The rest of winter then probably goes back and forth a lot, and that means potential storms...both snow and rain

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