El Niño – the buzz word used to describe the forecast or outlook for the winter in Indiana and other parts of the U.S. A very typical forecast for the winter is expected, and El Niño is expected to play a large role in temperatures this winter, according to The Weather Channel Professional Division. Experts says that we are still in the midst of a strong El Niño and that it may strengthen even more as winter approaches.
El Niño is defined as above normal water temperatures in the Tropical Pacific Ocean that develop after late December along the coast of Ecuador and Peru and sometimes cause catastrophic weather conditions. During strong El Niño events like this year (2015), the warm waters in the Pacific Ocean cause a strengthening of the Pacific Jet Stream. That strengthening Pacific Jet Stream often time tends to keep cold air bottled up in Canada and sometimes keeps an active storm track focused across the Southern United States.
During an El Niño, you can expect below average temperatures in the South, above average temperatures in the North. As far as precipitation goes during an El Niño, you can expect above average precipitation in the South and some can go up the East coast as well. And you can then expect below average precipitation in the North.
It’s been predicated that the El Niño for this winter season could be the strongest El Niño ever recorded. If the water temperatures along the Equator continue to warm, experts have predicted that levels could reach or exceed the current records held by the El Niño of 1997-1998.
During the winter of 1997 and 1998, the Winter in the Ohio Valley started off early with an active storm track across the Southern Ohio Valley which brought several rounds of accumulating snow to the parts of the Central and Southern Illinois, Central and Southern Indiana and Southern Ohio in December, according to Brandon Redman with IndianaWeatherOnline.com. January and February were very dry and warm across Indiana and Ohio until a late season snow storm hit in March across much of the Upper Ohio Valley including Northern Illinois, Northern Indiana and Northwester Ohio. That storm system brought blizzard conditions to Northwestern Indiana followed by frigid air to the Ohio Valley.
The Winter of 1982 and 1983 was also a year that featured a very strong El Niño. A fairly significant winter storm and ice storm in January of 1983 impacted the Southern third of Indiana. The Winter of 1987 and 1988 featured a moderately strong El Niño and again an ice storm that impacted much of Central Indiana in March. Finally a weak El Niño was present during the Winter of 2004 and 2005. That Winter featured a significant ice storm in January of 2005 that impacted much of Central Indiana along the I-70 corridor that left over 150,000 homes without electricity.
Only time will tell weather the predictions are on track, but to date we haven’t seen extended frigid temperatures and snowfalls, and winter did start with a period of storminess in November through early January with overrunning precipitation in the form of rain. And as of today’s publishing, old man Winter greeted us with a Winter Weather Advisory that brought about several inches of snowfall and frigid temperatures. And experts continue to thing that there is a good chance for increased storminess and snowfall by February and March.
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