By Mike Augustyniak

Holly and Mike from Stillwater wrote in to ask: “Have we ever had a winter where we get almost no snow or is it only a matter of time until we get clobbered?”

The top 10 least snowy winters in the metro area have all had between 14″ and 22″ of snow, which isn’t that much. We’re currently at 8.6″ in the metro, but I don’t think we’re destined to be one of the least-snowy seasons on record.

The global weather pattern we’re in (La Nina) is characterized by these large swings in the jet stream pattern, allowing for periods of much-above average temps, and periods of much-below average temps.

History says that, in the vast majority of La Nina winters, we’ll end up below average temperature-wise.

We really haven’t seen any big swings to the cold side of things yet this year, but those are often preceded by massive snow dumps. It’s possible (and, in this pattern, even likely) that most of our snow would come in these mega storms, with possibly below average snowfall between them.

That’s what we saw last December, and for the rest of the winter. After that incredible start in Dec. 2011, snowfall wasn’t outrageous.

I’m going to continue to play the percentages, which all say that we’ll end up making up ground this winter, but nothing is ever a sure bet in my field!

The “wildcard” this year (as it is every year) is something called the Arctic Oscillation (AO). When the AO is in its positive phase (as it has been for the past several weeks) the cold, arctic air is locked up well to our north, through central & northern Canada. When the AO phase becomes negative, much of the U.S. will get a blast of cold from the North Pole.

Of course, we need cold air to be present to make the snow that many people are craving and, so far this year, it just hasn’t been here. The AO can offset La Nina’s effects to a certain degree but, while La Nina is predictable from season to season, the AO is nearly impossible to predict more than a few weeks in advance.

It’s looking like the AO is evolving to a more negative/colder phase right now, but we’ll have to see how long that sticks around.

Comments (8)
  1. Craig Wilson says:

    So, Mike what were the 10 least snowy years? How much or how little and when? Thanks

  2. Billy says:

    I don’t believe a damn thing Mike says about the weather.

    Mike has been wrong soo many other times. It must be nice to have a job where you can be wrong zoo many times…

    1. DEBBT says:

      It is called FORECASTING…not this is what it IS going to be. We ARE talking about nature whish, in case you do not know, does what IT wants and WHEN it wants!!
      So go back to your job and quit commenting on something you obviously know nothing about!!

      1. Billy says:

        Are you on drugs?

        1. Weather Nut says:

          Lol Billy’s out trollin’.

          Debbt is right…weather forecasting is inherently full of error. The probably that day 5 of a 5-day forecast turns out exactly as predicted is very, very low. Weather is a global thing that involves many factors. No meteorologist in the world can predict anything with 100% certainty (no offense Mike :D).

  3. Exp says:

    Our weather is not affected simply by local influences. They are global. There is a supercomputer in Japan called the Earth Simulator and another in Germany called the Blizzard. Both of them can only offer simulations and not real time weather predictions. That’s how complicated the Earth’s weather system is. So, to hear our Local guys getting it wrong doesn’t surprise me, nor anger me.

    Personally, I have a bad feeling (about as unscientific as can be) that we’re going to be very dry and warm and it’ll carry on into next summer with bad consequences. Honestly, I’ll be happy if I’m wrong.

  4. J Baayen says:

    Whaaaat!?? Crave winter?? Most of us just endure winter in Minnesota!

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Watch & Listen LIVE