Weather Whys: The 2016-2017 winter weather forecast

Posted at 9:42 PM, Nov 14, 2016

If you are hoping for a long and bitterly cold winter with lots of snow, it may come, but there is a high likelihood that  you will have to wait deeper into winter for that to happen.

In the meantime enjoy the continued unusually warm weather. 

There are two reasons for this. First let's talk about La Nina. Check out this graphic below.

La Nina produces cooler than average ocean water temperatures. And weak ones like this year’s, can mean a lot of warm days with occasional arctic outbreaks in Green Country. 

How does this happen? Think of it like road construction and how it affects your trip to work or home. The construction causes you to take a detour or go slightly out of your way. You still get where you’re going but you might have missed the usual streets. Same thing here. Storms get re-routed and that affects everything from cold air to snow.

So Blame La Nina for the warm Autumn and it looks like it will carry over into December.

“We have to get Canada cold first before we can get anything of consequence with regard to cold air here in the U.S. But we’re probably still several weeks away from any trend to of any cold weather here,” said Stephen Strum, ‎Vice President of Extended Forecast Services at Weather Decision Technologies, Inc.

And to prove our point, just look at this year's Lezak Recurring Cycle theory.

The second reason. Never seen-before weather patterns have developed and are now cycling. So far both patterns are diverting the cold air away from Oklahoma and thanks to the LRC we know these patterns will repeat.

But we must watch other global influences. When both the Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillations go in what is called negative territory, according to the LRC, there could be one, maybe two shots of bitterly cold air and a chance for snow.

The cold air is there. It's over Russia.

But the two dominant weather patterns must break down allowing arctic air to invade, and this could happen twice this winter. 

“We do tend to see a lot of strong arctic outbreaks during La Nina Winters. You don’t necessarily have a cold winter but you see a couple of times cold that gives below 10-degrees,” said Strumm.

So here is the Winter Weather Forecast from Dec. 1st thru the end of February. Lets’ start with important dates.

The first half December will be much warmer than average. Maybe even some record highs. Our first cold surge arrives for the middle of December, but by Christmas Day, it's sunny, dry and seasonably cold.

Just after New Year’s Day, we could see our first real chance for snow. The rest of January appears mostly dry with average to above average warm temperatures. There could even be a record-breaking warm spell by the end of the month. Then around Feb. 1st, a second surge of arctic air, and between Feb. 16th and 19th, our second and final chance for snow for the winter.

So here’s the forecast. Much warmer than normal. A very dry winter with below average precipitation and likely less than 5 inches of snow. Tulsa averages 9 inches of snow a year. And it looks like for the second straight year the temperature won’t drop below zero.

I asked other members of the Storm Shield Weather Team for their snowfall predictions. Here is what they said.

  • Jon Haverfield - 8 inches of snow
  • Brandon Wholey - 6 inches of snow
  • Kirsten Horne - 4.5 inches of snow 
  • Taft Price - 9 inches of snow                       

So, it appears there won't be a lot of snow this year and cold frigid days will come but also leave quickly. By the way, during the winter of 2011, a strong La Nina was in place. We all remember the blizzard that year. Fortunately, La Nina is weak this year and isn't expected to get much stronger. 

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