La Nina Watch Issued by NOAA - Lima, OH News Weather Sports

La Nina Watch Issued by NOAA

On Thursday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (or NOAA) issued a "La Nina Watch" for the upcoming fall and winter months. They have given La Nina a 55-60% chance of developing. Essentially, a La Nina pattern is characterized by cooler than normal ocean temperatures along the equator in the Pacific. NOAA also looks at the temperature of the water just below the surface. And, according to observations, that water is getting increasingly cold. That suggests an even higher probability that La Nina will take over this winter.

There have been 21 winters that have been declared La Nina winters. Of those, 12 have been deemed weak, 6 moderate and 3 strong. This winter, it appears as though the most likely scenario will be a weak to moderate La Nina. So, what does that mean for Ohio?

The answer to that question is much more complicated than a simple "warmer than average" or "snowier than average." Looking back at things, it appears as though there is no overly conclusive pattern characterized by La Nina. We've had plenty of La Nina winters that featured above average snow and plenty that featured below average snow. However, one bit of important information seems to be that the weaker La Nina winters have a higher tendency of producing more precipitation and roughly average temperatures. And, that can translate into a higher probability of seeing "normal" or "above normal" snowfall.

In contrast, stronger La Nina winters seem to result in warmer temperatures and wetter conditions. So, things are quite similar in regards to precipitation being above normal in weak and strong La Nina winters. However, the difference seems to be that the temperatures have a better chance of being warmer in strong La Nina winters. And, if the temperatures are warmer, that precipitation has a higher likelihood of falling as rain instead of snow.

If you remember, we saw a La Nina last winter, we saw a weak La Nina and saw one of the least snowy winters of all time. Many days were above average and plenty of 50s and 60s were recorded in January and February. We saw near normal precipitation through the winter with minimal snowfall. That's the nature of weather (no pun intended). If weak La Nina situations produce wetter than normal and roughly average temperatures, why did we see a warm winter and average precipitation? Well, the answer is variability. Sometimes things do not behave like they "should." Many other factors go into the weather patterns we see during the winter months. Many of those other factors are difficult to pinpoint at this juncture.

However, the Climate Prediction Center has issued an outlook for the December, January and February time frame. And, as of now, they believe we have an equal chance of seeing above or below average precipitation. Roughly average precipitation and snowfall would likely result in around 27-33" of snow. The CPC also believes we have a slightly higher chance of seeing slightly above normal temperatures, which is to be expected during a La Nina winter. That would mean plenty of 30s for highs and teens and 20s for lows with a few warm-ups here and there.

As of now, the chances of seeing a similar winter to last year are VERY low. There is basically a 0% chance that we see similar snowfall to last winter. There is a VERY HIGH probability that we rebound in the snowfall department as last winter featured nearly no significant winter storms and very minimal seasonal snowfall totals. The Lima area saw between 9" and 16" of snowfall officially, which is VERY unusual. We could certainly double those values this winter!

Stay tuned as more information becomes available into October. Meteorologists will begin to have a more constructive idea of what to expect by mid-October. But, as of now, 25"+ of snowfall seems very plausible with the pattern we are currently expecting.