Meteorologists look at monthly data from Dec - Jan - Feb to determine a winter season average, or define that period of time as Meteorological Winter. A winter in the Local 6 area shows an average temperature of 37 degrees, average precipitation total of 12.18" and average snowfall of 8.4".
The National Weather Service in Paducah has historical data that covers 5 of the past strongest or similar El Nino episodes in the past 75 years (according to current forecast trends).
|(Click to Enlarge - Credit Jennifer Rukavina &|
Paducah National Weather Service climate records)
Moving on to precipitation. Most of the cases averaged close to normal for the season with the exception of winter 1982-1983. I believe this to be an exceptional case since on one single day, (Dec 3) a record 4.65" of rain was recorded. If we exclude that one single day, 1982-1983 would also calculate close to average. In the central region precipitation ranked 35th driest during the record El Nino episode of 1997-1998.
It is a completely different scenario for snow totals. As the El Nino events in this post gained strength, the average snowfall dropped significantly. Winter 1965-1966 was the only season that came close to the average with 5".
|(NCDC - El Nino of 1997-1998)|
Simply put....warmer El Nino winters tend to bring less snow to the Local 6 area but do not leave us short-changed in precipitation. If the predicted El Nino episode ahead materializes as predicted by NOAA, we could be looking at a much warmer winter than last year and continue strong with our wet weather pattern.
As a personal forecaster's disclaimer.....remember it only takes ONE snow event to make a big impact. In most of the winter cases from the past, we had quite a few TRACE snow days, just not accumulating. Use this information as guidance and for planning but we all know weather/climate in the Mid-South is anything but certain. :)