Several meteorological organizations have released their Winter Outlook for 2022-2023, and based on trends from past years, they have predicted a winter with colder than average temperatures and higher precipitation than normal.
Both the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and National Weather Service have made similar predictions in their respective winter outlooks.
A multitude of factors contribute to the prediction, but perhaps one of the most prominent for long-term models are Pacific Ocean temperatures, specifically a meteorological phenomenon known as the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO).
This year, meteorologists say there will be cooler than average temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean around wintertime, particularly along South America and southern North America. To weather experts, this pattern is known as La Niña, and Wisconsin is known for having colder winter temperatures and increased snow during La Niña years, of which this is the third consecutive year.
“We do expect it to be a fairly strong La Niña and I think that’s why the tendencies are for the Climate Prediction Center to go in that direction,” said Aidan Kuroski, a weather service meteorologist in Sullivan. “The idea that we will be slightly below normal for temperature and slightly above normal for precipitation is driven almost exclusively by La Niña.”
Kuroski added that Wisconsin may experience “a slightly different scenario” because he thinks the state will have “a slightly stronger La Niña than the past couple winters.”
Of course, weather reports are never 100 percent accurate, as Kuroski recognized that “there are a few things that play into it that we just don’t have a great grasp of until it starts happening.”
Details as small as the size of individual snowflakes can alter the way Wisconsin winters play out. According to Kuroski, “Bigger flakes lead to higher snowfall totals and smaller snowflakes lead to less snowfall in terms of inches of accumulation.”
The Climate Prediction Center, in contrast, predicts a warmer than average winter in the Southwest United States. The NOAA asserts that the La Niña climate pattern will drive warmer temperatures to the Southwest, Gulf Coast, and Eastern Seaboard, meanwhile colder winter temperatures will be present in the Great Lakes area, the Pacific Northwest, and along the Alaskan Panhandle.
For kids eagerly hoping for snow days, they may be in luck. For adults, however, their heating bills might be a little more expensive than usual. Regardless, all we can do now is wait for winter to creep around the corner, then we can all see for ourselves what the season has in store for us.