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Winter Weather Forecast

by Amy Wenger on October 17, 2014

     Wooly caterpillar stripes...falling acorns...halos in the sky.  All are said to be folk legend harbingers of what might be yet to come for approaching winter weather.  

     Even various rumblings from the most recent edition of the Farmer's Almanac has dire predictions that the coming snows and bitter chill of the months ahead might surpass last year's unforgettable season.

     However, the newest report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), may well suffice in assuaging a few uneasy thoughts.  On Thursday, October 16, the agency released its annual Winter Weather Outlook for the entire nation.

     According to data and research compiled by NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, and further discussed in a media teleconference presented on Thursday, October 16, the Great Lakes region is expected to have a drier than normal winter, with fairly moderate temperatures that would be typical for a Hoosier winter.

     "This outlook gives the public valuable information, allowing them to make informed decisions and plans for the season," said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center.  "It's an important tool as we build a weather-ready nation."

     Some of the critical elements that add variables to any long-term forecast include the El Nino phenomenon, which is a system of ocean based currents and atmospheric changes that can impact weather patterns.  Presently, indications do not appear to be in place for a significant El Nino winter, although there is a 67 percent chance that one could form.  If one does, NOAA is estimating that the event will be a weak one, and not likely to affect the Midwest region in a significant manner.

     Another factor that does not appear to be materializing is the "polar vortex," which is the culprit that brought about the dangerously cold air and brutal wind chills of the previous winter.  A polar vortex is a term used to describe a cyclonic mass of air and wind that hovers near one of the Earth's poles.  Last year's polar vortex was broad enough to have repercussions in this region.  However, the current sentiment does not favor a similar setup for this year, meaning that NOAA is maintaining the belief that temperatures for Indiana and the surrounding Great Lakes will be more traditional for a typical winter season.

     Lastly, it was noted that precipitation levels are always difficult to predict for this particular portion of the nation, as we are often subjected to lake effect systems that change and grow on a seemingly minute-by-minute basis, which makes daily forecasting even more challenging during this time of the year.  The climatological outlook does place the state in a drier than average category, simply on the general assessment of the forecasted weather patterns, and not necessarily taking into account lake system snows.



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