Ever since we had the Ice Storm in 2009, we are are more interested in the winter outlook. Even though it is August, we are already starting to research what the 2015/2016 Winter could be like in Region 8.
We have a pretty good track record on our winter forecasts. Last year, we called for a year with "above average snowfall". It was starting to look like we missed that forecast until we had a 1-3" snowfall in February and a 7-13" snowfall at the start of March. That tipped us into the "above average" category. A lot of that outlook was based on the 2009/2010 winter having a very similar pattern.
This is year, we are looking back at winters that have had similar setups and the forecast is not as easy as last year! We are looking back at years that had strong El Ninos. So far, it appears that 1965/1966 and 1997/1998 had the most similar setup. Let's start by looking at the hand-written logs from the Benedictine Sisters at the convent on KAIT road from the Winter of 1965/1966. Click image to enlarge:
- December 1965 was relatively dry with 1.66" of rainfall and no snow.
- January of 1966 had BIG SWINGS in temperatures! We were as cold as 0° and as warm as 67°, but had a long run of cold air near the end of the month. 3 rounds of snow gave a total of 7.3" of snowfall. Total melted precip/rain for the month was at a whopping 8.25". Part of that was due to heavy rain at the start of the month.
- February of 1966 was also wet with a total of 5.24" of precipitation. 9.5" of snowfall fell on the 22-23rd! Three days after the snow, we were 51°!
Now, let's look at the 1997/1998 Winter. Here are the climate logs from KAIT from the Winter 1997/1998. Click image to enlarge:
A few notes from the 1997/1998 Winter:
- It was windy.
- It was wet.
- A few areas of ice.
- No huge snowfalls, but an early snowfall noted in early December that closed schools.
- February was mild.
As I mentioned earlier, I'm not prepared to give a final outlook just yet, but I am leaning toward a few ideas:
Winter of 2015/2016:
- I think we will have a WET winter.
- That may lead to 1-2 big snowfalls like we had in 1966 or it could just be rain.
- I'm pretty confident that we will NOT see a huge ice storm like we saw in 2009.
- I expect big swings in temperatures. Warm one day and freezing cold the next.
We are going to do some more research and release our final thoughts in the next month or so. Stay tuned!