US Winter 2011-2012 Outlook
After weeks of research on similar winter seasons (since 1950), I have pretty good confidence in the following winter forecast. This is the first Winter 2011-2012 Outlook that I will issue. It covers the December through February period, which is the meteorological winter season. The second/final outlook will be issued in early November. The following forecast takes into account analog years such as 1950-1951, 1955-1956, etc. These analog years have been chosen based on many factors, including the current ENSO forecast. This winter season has a lot of factors coming into play, so there is still some uncertainty with how the winter season will unfold. Thus, depending on model trends and observations, there could be some changes with the final forecast.
In the West, there will be a stubborn ridge across portions of the Southwest and South Central US. With the jet stream mainly to the north, light winds aloft will result in mild temperatures with limited chances for significant rainfall and/or snowfall. The best chance for both rain and snow will be across northern and eastern portions of the region. With the bulk of the cold air residing across the Northern Plains, states such as Oklahoma and Texas will likely see near to below-normal snowfall this season. This will stand in stark contrast with last winter where cities such as Dallas-Ft. Worth were slammed with record snowfall. Check out the following break-down for the upcoming winter season.
Pacific Northwest – Expect a cooler-than-normal winter season with wetter-than-normal conditions. Although it will likely be a wet season, snowfall will be near average with the coldest air remaining just to the east.
Southwest – Above-normal temps and below-average rainfall will be prevalent through a good portion of the winter. Mountain snows will be less than normal across much of Arizona and New Mexico, along with adjacent portions of CA, NV, UT, and CO. Some of the warmest temps this winter are forecast to reside across Arizona and New Mexico.
Northern Plains – Frequent rounds of Canadian and Arctic air will plow through Montana and the Dakotas beginning as early as this month. This pattern will persist through much of the winter. The Great Plains will see above-normal rainfall and snowfall, seeing at least 2 snowstorms (blizzards?) by Christmas.
Eastern Rockies/Central Plains – Colorado, Kansas, and Missouri will be the part of the main battleground this season. Northern portions of this corridor will see below-normal temps, while areas to the south will see near to even slightly above-normal temps. Northern and eastern portions of this region will definitely see some good snowfall this season.
Southern Plains – The states of Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Louisiana will see varying conditions this season. In West, Southwest, & South Texas, severe drought will persist as above-normal temps and below-normal precipitation look to continue for the most part. Farther north and east from the TX & OK Panhandles through Oklahoma, Northeast Texas, and Arkansas, some improvement in the drought conditions may occur. Some of this improvement will come in November, as the fall season transitions to winter. Like much of the Central and Eastern US, a good portion of December looks to be cold. This region will need to be monitored for severe weather, winter storms, and ice storms this season. Farther south from Central/South Texas through the southern half of Louisiana, conditions will be more mild with occasional periods of wintry weather.
Southeast – Overall, the Southeast will be more mild than last winter. Although temps look to be slightly above normal, rainfall will be near-normal, so no additional widespread drought areas are expected to develop. Regarding the ongoing drought across much of Georgia and adjacent portions of AL & SC, this area will probably lessen both in severity and in spatial coverage through next month. There will be periods of cold, snow, and/or ice this winter, particularly across the Tennessee Valley and Mid-Atlantic regions. Florida will likely see mild temps and slightly below-average rainfall. With this in mind, some moderate to severe drought areas may develop across the peninsula this winter.
Northeast – It’s never dull in the Northeast. States such as Pennsylvania and New York will see many systems roll through bringing cold air and wintry precipitation. Snowfall will be near to slightly above-normal, but it should not be record-breaking. Many folks who got slammed with record cold and heavy snow last year will catch somewhat of a break this season.
I have observed that a pattern typically evolves during October and November, which tends to repeat itself through the spring. This pattern can give you a better idea of what to expect through winter and much of spring. Needless to say, I will be closely watching the weather pattern over the next several weeks. Depending on what occurs through early November, there may be a few changes with the next outlook. Be sure to follow ConvectiveWeather on Facebook for the latest weather updates!