Northern Nebraska: Prepare for snow

Nebraska and northern Kansas could see more snow than usual this winter.

The latest winter outlook from the Climate Prediction Center shows increased chances for above normal winter precipitation through February. Northern Nebraska could get the brunt of it, according to the outlook released Nov. 21.

Arctic air is expected to surge into the lower 48 states east of the Rockies Dec. 6-8, a setup almost identical to what the states experienced in the second half of October and first half of November.

A potent system is expected to head for the central U.S. in the first full week of December. A cold and less stormy pattern should develop upon its departure, said Allen Dutcher, agricultural E xtension climatologist with the Nebraska State Climate Office in Lincoln.

The latest winter outlook also indicates that February and March could be colder than normal throughout the Plains.

“The seasonal forecast for the central and northern Plains will be highly dependent on how December snowfall stacks up and what, if any, snowpack remains on the ground through December,” Dutcher said.

Any substantial amount of snow will probably intensify the depth of cold air that follows, he said. He stands by his winter forecast from two months ago, predicting storms and cold across the northern Plains and the northern half of the central Plains.

Temperatures may be tough to pin down this winter.

Southwestern Kansas is expected to be slightly warmer than normal. Nebraska and the rest of Kansas has equal chances of being above, near or below normal temperatures, said Michael Moritz, warning coordination meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Hastings, Nebraska.

Wet conditions will likely prolong flooding issues, particularly in northeastern Kansas, according to Mary Knapp, assistant Kansas state climatologist.

“Given the dry nature of winter in Kansas, a single active storm could change the scale to wetter than normal,” she said.

For southwestern Kansas, though, it would take much wetter conditions to erase drought areas.

Iowa could have warmer than average December temperatures, but predictions for precipitation are a toss-up.

Last season, a steady el Nino impacted the globe. This winter, neither el Niño nor la Niña is expected. That makes confidence in this year’s outlook somewhat uncertain, said Dr. Justin Glisan, Iowa’s state climatologist

There has also been some talk of a Modoki el Niño.

“Modoki comes from a Japanese term meaning ‘similar but different.’ A Modoki el Niño refers to warmer than normal surface water temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean, rather than the more typical El Niño which is based on the eastern Pacific,” Knapp said. “Research is still trying to answer the question, what if any impact would affect the U.S.?”

Amy Hadachek can be reached at editorial@midwestmessenger.com.

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