INDIANAPOLIS—To get an idea what sort of winter is in store, we can look at the outlook issued by the government’s Climate Prediction Center. Except, it doesn’t tell us much this year. Much of Indiana falls in the equal chances category. In other words, there’s about a 33% likelihood of temperatures being near, above or below average this winter.
Mike Ryan, is a senior meteorologist with the National Weather Service in in Indianapolis. Factoring in past years and current global patterns, he says there are signs that could tip the scale in the colder direction. “It’s not going to be long-term cold. It’s going to be up and down,” said Ryan. “And that may last well into December before we get into more of a stronger cold setup.”
And more cold could lead to more snow. “We do think it’s going to be more active, especially the second half of winter. Some potential is there for a backloaded winter. With that being said, I think we’re going to have ample opportunity to get some snowfall out of that,” said Ryan.
If the cold and busy weather pattern line up the way he thinks it will, snowfall could end the season in the 20 to 30 inch range, which is a little above average for Central Indiana.
One of the factors limiting confidence in the seasonal outlook is a lack of influence from El Nino or La Nina. “Because we have such a weak ENSO phase, that opens the door to so many other factors that come into play,” according to Ryan. “How the snow cover develops to our north and west in the coming weeks and months will play a factor in that. How quickly we get ice on the Great Lakes can play a factor into that.”
Ryan also see the potential for winter to last a little longer this season, with active weather, including snow, lingering into March.
So, while we have an idea of how the season while shape up, it’s going to come down to more short-term patterns a couple of weeks out, that really define how brutal or forgiving our winter will be.