Monday, November 15, 2010

La Niña is Coming

In the past couple of weeks both the Morning Sun and Grand Rapids Press have had front page articles highlighting the weather pattern shaping up for this winter, La Niña. La Niña and her more well known and common brother El Niño are terms used to describe the water temperature around the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

The weather pundits from Sunday's Grand Rapids Press all predict a pretty snowy winter, with most of flakes coming after the first of the year. They also agree, as did The Morning Sun, that there will likely be big swings in the weather this winter.

In looking over our weather records at Lake Isabella we've seen La Niña winters four times since the mid-1980s.

Since the 1984-85 winter we've seen on average just under 70 inches of snow per winter here Lake Isabella. Three of the four La Niña winters resulted in below normal snow totals. Those winters were:

1988-89: 49.5" of snow
1998-99: 59.0" of snow
2000-01: 62.6" of snow
2007-08: 96.4" of snow

What stood out in the 2007-08 winter was that the snow was steady all winter. In tracking the number of hours the Village plowed that winter, we saw a fairly event hit for December (19 days), January (20 days), and February (19 days). We also saw an early break from winter with only 20 hours spend on snow and ice control in the month of March.

So, what are we in for this winter. Nobody honestly knows. Many factors play into what will happen to our weather. describes it this way. "While extreme events are more likely to occur during a La Nina year, it's not as if La Nina gives long-range forecasters all of the answers to the winter forecast.

Although periods of warmth are likely in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic, very cold air will also not be too far north of these regions, so occasional periods of extreme winter weather there are still possible. This is true particularly for the upper Midwest, which will be on the boundary between persistent cold to the west and persistent mild air to the south. The winter could go either way or fluctuate back and forth depending on the precise location of the dominant northern jet stream