Bradley: Expect More Snow, Cold Temperatures This Winter


UPDATED: Wednesday November 14, 2012 4:03 PM

This winter should be colder and snowier than last winter, according to the nation’s top weather forecasters.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s 2012-2013 Winter Outlook predicts average temperatures and average precipitation here in central Ohio. 

That means we could see three times more snow than last year’s meager 12.2 inches.

Here’s the science behind their forecast: all summer, meteorologists with NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center have been monitoring for a possible El Nino weather pattern.

“This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “In fact, it stalled out last month, leaving neutral conditions in place in the tropical Pacific.”

When El Niño is present, warmer ocean water in the equatorial Pacific shifts the patterns of tropical rainfall that in turn influence the strength and position of the jet stream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and United States.

This climate pattern gives seasonal forecasters confidence in how the U.S. winter will unfold. An El Niño watch remains in effect because there’s still a window for it to emerge.

Other climate factors can influence winter weather across the country.

Some of these factors, such as the North Atlantic Oscillation, a prominent climate pattern, are difficult to predict more than one to two weeks in advance. The NAO adds uncertainty to the winter outlook in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic portions of the country.  That means Columbus could receive even more snow than its annual average of 30 inches.

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