La Nina bringing a warmer winter - Here’s a look at the last time we saw this pattern

2011-2012 had a warm and dry winter
Winter outlook 2020-21
Winter outlook 2020-21(KYTV)
Published: Oct. 18, 2020 at 10:51 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Just this week, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2020-21 winter outlook.

Meteorological winter starts on Dec. 1 and continues through the end of February 2021.

For the whole of the southern United States, and up towards Maine along the east coast, forecasters are predicting above-average temperatures. This includes us here in the Ozarks where we have a 33-40 percent chance of above-average temperatures. In other words, expect a mild winter.

Winter 2020-2021 Temp Outlook
Winter 2020-2021 Temp Outlook(NOAA)

The only areas not seeing these above-average temperatures in Washington, most of Montana, the Dakotas, and western Minnesota.

On the other hand, precipitation-wise, the southern half of the U.S. can expect below-average rainfall, except the northern states and the Ohio River Valley.

Winter 2020-2021 Precip Outlook
Winter 2020-2021 Precip Outlook(NOAA)

For the Ozarks, we have equal chances of below or above-average precipitation. Meaning there just is not a great consensus, so we could swing either way.

Additionally, NOAA is calling for worsening drought conditions. This does not bode well for us here in the Ozarks.

Drought monitor
Drought monitor(NOAA)

This winter weather outlook follows a classic moderate La Nina pattern. La Nina is the atmospheric and oceanic coupling. It is extremely impactful on our weather here in North America. What is happening, is there continue to be cooling water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America. Our jet stream is staying more towards the north. This is a great set up for a mainly warmer and drier than normal winter for the southern half of the U.S.

Lan Nina Setup
Lan Nina Setup(KYTV)

The last time we had a moderate La Nina, was back in the 2011-12 winter. Similar to this winter, the southern states were seeing a warmer and drier winter. Differences were out towards the west near California, NOAA was calling for below-average temps, with the northern half of the state expecting above-average precipitation.

Winter 2011-2012 Outlook
Winter 2011-2012 Outlook(NOAA)

How did this play out in the winter of 2011-12?

Well, there were mild winter conditions for most. And it was the fourth warmest winter on record.

Temperatures across the US experienced several degrees of above-average temperatures. Even in the Dakotas below-average temperatures were forecasted. So the outlook missed the mark a little in that area as the jet stream stayed a little farther north than originally expected.

California saw below-average temperatures that were consistent with the outlook.

Winter 2011-2012, warmer temps
Winter 2011-2012, warmer temps(NOAA)

Precipitation-wise, the outlook had some passes and misses. The south-central U.S., where below-average precipitation was forecasted, ended up seeing above-average precipitation. In the Ozarks, below-average precipitation was forecasted, and that’s what we got.

In California, above-average rainfall was forecasted for the northern part of the state, and they ended up seeing below-average rainfall.

The forecast called for above-average rainfall also for the northern US, and they too got below-average rainfall.

Precip, 2011-2012 Winter
Precip, 2011-2012 Winter(NOAA)

Again, there were passes and misses.

In terms of temperatures, the outlooks did very well. With precipitation forecasts, it was not as accurate.

For the Ozarks, if history repeats itself this year, we will be warmer, and drier. Just like they were in 2011-12 winter. Hopefully, we get more rain or snow than expected, because the one thing we don’t need is drought conditions heading into spring.

Take the winter predictions for what they are, and just know that things will change a lot once we get into the cold months.

As always you can check for the latest weather updates, watch our shows, and use the First Alert Weather App, so you are never caught off guard.

Copyright 2020 KY3. All rights reserved.

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