WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – Many of us referred to last winter as the cold that would not end. The last arctic surge arrived in early March with above-average snowfall for Wichita for the season.
No two winters are ever the same in Kansas and this one is already shaping up differently.
The 2019 to 2020 winter season is guaranteed to keep us on our toes. Kansas is known for its extremes.
There are several things that we look at in the extended forecast.
Last year, El Niño – or the warming of the ocean waters off the coast of Peru – took hold.
This year, El Niño is in a neutral phase which means ocean temperatures and tropical rainfall patterns along with atmospheric winds in this region are near average.
We are also looking at some unusually warm ocean water off the coast of Alaska. When this happens, the West Coast experiences dry and unseasonably warm conditions.
The snowpack to our north is loading up. This will help determine the extent of our arctic blasts.
While we weigh all of these factors, we also have to look closely at what is happening now, here at home, and the overall weather pattern over the globe.
Earlier this year, we went through a rather wet stretch with May being the second wettest on record. Fast forward to today, and we have a drought intensifying over the western half of the state with abnormally dry conditions blossoming over south-central Kansas.
The frequency of storm systems for us has dropped since earlier this year. When they do move through, they blow past Kansas quickly. The path these storms have taken has been primarily from the northwest which limits the amount of moisture available. I don’t see this changing in the short term.
Portions of the Ohio and Tennessee valleys will be the hotspot for rain and snow this winter along with the Dakotas, Great Lakes and New England regions.
I am hopeful that a slight twitch in the weather pattern will be more favorable with more moisture available to enhance our chances for rain and/or snow by late January and through February.
The earlier we can get this moisture the better, otherwise, we could be setting ourselves up for a troublesome wildfire season by March.
Snowfall totals for the season will be average to just below average.
The bulk of the coldest air will stay over the Great Lakes region and New England through Christmas.
We will feel the influence of average to above-average temperatures through the remainder of this year. As the snowpack grows to our north, the slightest weather pattern shift in our direction will turn us colder in January, February and the early part of March.
Arctic blasts will be short for the central High Plains as warmer winds will rebound temperatures quickly.
Since Kansas will be living on the edge of the separation between the most bitter of temperatures and warm conditions, we won’t stay stuck in a winter rut as spring takes over early.
Spring severe weather season will begin slow but then ramp up by may and continue through June as it typically does.
KSN Digital Extra
Official 1981 – 2010 snowfall normals for Wichita (Inches) Source: Weather.gov.
Wichita top 20 seasonal snow totals since 1888 (October-April) Source: Weather.gov.
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