KSN Storm Track 3 Winter Weather Outlook: Temperature variability and a worsening drought expected for Kansas

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Variety is the spice of life. We know this all too well living in Kansas. What will the 2021-2022 winter season bring us? KSN Storm Track 3 Chief Meteorologist Lisa Teachman says no two winters are ever the same here on the Central High Plains. That said, there will be one critical feature dominating our weather this year that also impacted us last year.

Last winter we saw quite a bit of variety. Four days before Christmas we enjoyed a temperature in the middle 60s to only cool to a high of 41 on Christmas Eve in Wichita. How can we forget the bitter blast by February when high temperatures stayed below freezing for 12 days in a row!

Our weather is driven by our atmospheric flow. The ocean greatly influences this. One global feature we had in play last winter season we will have again this year is La Nina. Ocean water off the coast of South America is trending below average.

In a La Nina year, we tend to see temperatures cooler than normal in the Pacific Northwest along with warmer temperatures in the south/southeast part of the country.

What does this mean for Kansas? The same as last year and what we have seen up to this point right now – highly variable temperatures.

Moisture will be lower in the desert southwest and through the Deep South. Whereas the Pacific Northwest will see an uptick.

Lately, we have been in an active weather pattern here in Kansas – a parade of cold fronts. But, those frontal passages have been coming through dry. As fronts get to the east of us, they encounter more moisture and the parent storm systems start to gel, ultimately leaving us dry. We are already seeing greater moisture gathering to the east of us and this is just the beginning heading into winter due to La Nina.

Here is how our drought stands right now with dry conditions to the north, west and south with virtually no recovery on the horizon.

Our key takeaways for this winter include variability with temperature. Within any given week, we may be on both sides of the spectrum: below average one day followed by above average the next. Temperatures will keep going back and forth in an active, yet drier, weather pattern.

Storms will continue to see a better chance of collecting moisture to our east. Our drought will deepen.

One other feature we will need to monitor is the polar vortex or a frigid pool of air near the North Pole.

If it gets disturbed and shifts south, we may see a surge of bitterly cold air similar to what we encountered last February when temperatures fell below zero with Wichita hitting lows from negative twelve to negative seventeen!

Snowfall potential will be near average this season, if not trending on the lower end of these ranges. Wichita will see anywhere from 11 to 15 inches of snow for the season. Dodge City from 13 to 17 inches of snow. Goodland 18 to 23 inches of snow. Salina will be in the neighborhood of 12 to 15 inches of snow for the winter.

Whether you are team snow or team no, Kansas will not be the best place to see a lot of it this season. We are just not in the prime position.

Temperatures will keep us on our toes given the amount of fluctuating they will do.

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