(WNDU) – The flurries many woke up to Thursday morning are a sure sign that winter weather is here in Michiana.
But just how cold and snowy will that weather be over the next few months?
Chief Meteorologist Mike Hoffman looked at past years and some big factors to get those answers for his winter forecast.
The past year has obviously seen its ups and downs, starting with the polar vortex, that extreme cold back in January.
Then, we went into a chilly, wet spring, which affected the farmers. They got their crops in really late because of that, and they were hoping for a late fall. That really didn't happen as the cold weather came back just recently.
And the big question is, does the topsy-turvy weather continue into winter.
Of course, when we're talking about winter here in Michiana, we always think of Lake Michigan and the winds whipping across the lake. Right now, the lake is relatively warm compared to the cold winds coming across it, and that's a perfect recipe for lake effect snow.
But there's another body of water – the Pacific Ocean, much farther west – that's the key to our winter forecast.
Many years when we look at that prewinter setup, we're talking about looking at El Nino or La Nina, but this year it's La Nada, which basically means nothing. It's temperatures very close to normal in the central portions of the Pacific along the equator.
So, we go to the north. This is by far the biggest factor of what's going to come this winter, and that is the warmer-than-normal water over the north-central, northeast and even central Pacific. This, when you look at the overall pattern, typically forces the jet stream up into Alaska, and then it comes southward into the middle parts of the country.
And, of course, I think you probably know what that means: several shots of cold air. Not sure if we'll get a polar vortex again, but it's going to probably be colder than normal.
Interestingly, similar years from the past actually end up slightly warmer than normal.
2014 is my favorite. It is by far the closest to what we have seen so far this fall. But you can see a couple of years were above normal, and that's mainly because of December. Even one of these two years were above normal in December, so we may start the winter a little bit milder, but overall that average was about 1.7 degrees colder than normal.
As far as snowfall, three out of the four were well above normal, with one 109 inches – way, way above normal 2013-2014.
But 2014-2015 being my favorite year out of these, when you average all of these out, it's about 15 inches above normal, so a cold, snowy winter can be expected, from the looks of things there.
I know not everybody likes it to be cold and snowy during the winter here in Michiana. Some of us outdoor enthusiasts do – we like to ski, snowboard, sled.
At Howard Park is a brand new ice trail, and believe it or not, this could make everybody happy. They tell us it can be up to 60 degrees and we can be ice skating.
I doubt we see too many 60-degree days this coming winter. In fact, my forecast is for 2 degrees colder than normal overall, which means an average high of 32 degrees, average low of about 18 degrees.
As far as snowfall is concerned, I'm going 82 inches of snow, which is about 15 1/2 inches more than normal.