(WXIN/WTTV) — The chill in the air, the days are shorter and summer is behind us as the leaves continue to fall, with winter firmly around the corner.
Young or old, the thought of snowfall is exciting, to some but not for everyone. Love it or hate it, the snow business in central Indiana is big business.
Yet, not so much in recent years. Each of the past 10 years has produced sub-average snowfall. Only 10″ fell last season, which was among the least snowiest on record. The largest was a slushy storm in late January.
So, we are looking ahead and the winter outlook is in.
On average Indianapolis receives 25.6” of snowfall – the last time we surpassed that was 10 years ago. Do you remember the winter of 2013 and 2014? It was terribly cold and snowy with 55.7” of snowfall – the third snowiest on record.
Frequent shots of bitter cold arrived in early January and with them snow. Back-to-back storms early in the month left 16” of snow on the ground on the morning of Jan. 6. And that snow kept us cold – the early morning low was a bitter -16° below zero!!!!
You have to figure we are way overdue for a more challenging winter, but will this be the one? Global weather conditions will have a hand in what kind of winter we should expect. In the news this year – El Nino.
For the first time in four years… El Nino is back and deepening!
The Climate Prediction Center has been tracking the unusual warming in the Pacific Ocean just offshore of South America since mid to late summer, also known as sea surface temperatures. With this heavy warmth in the waters now and its expansion westward across the equator, some global weather patterns will likely be greatly altered as we head into the upcoming winter.
Jet Streams in the northern hemisphere which drive out temperatures and rain/snowfall potential will look much different than in recent years. In this scenario, it puts Indiana between the Jets. Drenching the southern US and keeping the colder air at bay. But, under a strong El Nino, which is indicated… this may bring a very different outlook for us Hoosiers.
The question is… historically, are strong El Nino’s good or bad for snow lovers across the region?
The last El Nino winter was in 2018 – 2019 bringing 19” of snowfall. THAT ANSWER IS…NO!
Check out this data for our last 5 “strong” or “very strong” El Nino’s.
In the 2015-2016 season, we received only 13.3” of snowfall…
Before that, we have to go all the way back to the 1997-98 season when we had a strong El Nino and a mere 10.4” of snowfall. In 1991-1992, we received 14.7” of snow, in 1987-1988 we had only 11.3”, and before that, in 1982-83 we only had 7.1” of snow.
All of these but the 88-89 season delivered an average winter temperature of 4-6 degrees above normal. But that doesn’t mean we couldn’t get a lot of snow. Our 2nd and 5th snowiest winters on record were El Nino years. A weak El Nino in 1977-78 dropped 57.9” of snow in Indy.
So, will you be needing your snow shovel or umbrella more this season? Well, that could really depend on just how strong this El Nino gets.
With all the conditions aligned this winter is expected to be warmer and drier than average
Snowfall may once again be disappointing for some – but there will certainly be some challenging winter weather at times. Our prediction is for 14.5″ of snow – that’s more than last year but still below average.
We also feel that some unusually warm spells could fuel a winter season severe outbreak – perhaps in January. As always you can count on the Weather Authority team to keep you prepared for whatever old man winter throws our way.