WSAW - Blogs - Jeremy Tabin

Record December Snow & La Nina

If you frequently check out my blog here on the webchannel, you'll recall back in late fall I talked about how the ocean temperatures in the equatorial Pacific were expected to be slightly cooler than average, but not quite a La Nina pattern (which would be colder than average water temps). Well, I had a feeling back in November that the odds were starting to lean toward a La Nina pattern and forecasted that we would have a wetter/snowier than usual winter ahead of us. Sure enough La Nina is back after a brief hiatus. This past year the waters out near the equator in the Pacific were running cooler than average and resulted in us having one of the top 10 snowiest winters along with a wetter than usual first half of the year. From August on through November, we crept back into a dry pattern in the Badger State as the La Nina pattern faded. Typically with a La Nina set up, the jet stream is aligned across the northern tier of the country, pushing storms in from NW Canada and the Pacific Northwest states down into the Great Lakes on east to New England. This has been the case so far this winter, and was especially evident during the last half of December. So even though we only had two record setting snow storms in Wausau (4" on the 26th and 7.3" on the 30th), we still managed to smash the previously snowiest month on record by quite a bit, with our tally for December 2008 reaching 37.6". Here is what the jet stream would look like usually in an El Nino and La Nina Winter.

Sure enough there will be some fluctuations in the jet stream and at some point this winter there will be a string of at least a few days with average or somewhat milder than average temperatures in the Wisconsin River Valley. As a matter of fact, this week we are getting a break in the snowfall action with a significant storm rolling up through the Ohio River Valley into the Northeast, leaving us with just a few flurries and brisk mid-week winds. However, don't get to used to it, because another round of some wintry precipitation is anticipated for the end of the work week, along with an intrusion of arctic air for the weekend.

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