No two winters in Kansas are ever alike. Last year was warmer than normal with hardly any snow.
This season it is shaping up differently.
Multiple winter storms have already impacted our region, and winter hasn’t started yet.
SNOW FALL THIS YEAR
We’ve seen more snow in the last month than all of last winter.
Statistically, our chances for snow are low in October then grow in November. We peak in December with decent chances for snow in January, February and March. Snow can linger into April, although the accumulation drops.
This October, we saw a little less than an inch of snow in the metro.
This was outdone by the November 11-12 storm where two inches of snow fell in Wichita.
This pattern won’t break yet. Get ready to see more fast-moving snows at least for the next month. Across the globe, there’s a series of ridges and troughs. Under ridges of high pressure, temperatures are usually warmer and conditions are drier. With troughs, you tend to get cooler air with increased chances for moisture.
Take what’s been happening in California with all the fires. Conditions are dry and temperatures are much milder than in other parts of the country, hence a strong ridge.
Typically this time of year, we begin to see a trough develop and lock into place over the Great Lakes. This year, that’s not the case. It has set up farther west with a polar express into the Central High Plains.
HOW DOES THE WEATHER AFFECT US?
As storms travel around the bend of these troughs, they produce rain and snow, depending on how temperatures are positioned. They also usher in cooler than normal temperatures. All of which we have seen so far in Kansas.
My suspicion is that this trough placement in the middle of the country will last for the next month. This means our chances for rain and/or snow will be near normal if not slightly higher heading into Christmas.
Now, we aren’t in the most ideal position for these storms to reach their full capacity. That happens just to our east. The frequency of storms may be greater, however, individual accumulation won’t necessarily be high.
Temperatures will be near normal, if not below. I see central and eastern Kansas cooler and more damp than our friends out west. Western Kansas on a daily basis will see temperatures warm faster than areas farther east. Overall, they’ll trend slightly drier than central and eastern Kansas.
EL NINO DEVELOPMENT
The wild card we are looking out for this year is El Nino. There is a 70-75 percent chance of it developing which would create a shift in our weather pattern.
If El Nino develops by the start of the year, then I see our temperatures trending above normal. Chances for snow could be near normal, depending on the storm track.
That said, I think we will still have a couple healthy snows late in winter that we’ll be talking about that would push our seasonal totals higher.
I believe the onslaught of El Nino could also bring about a more active spring severe weather season, earlier.