Cooler, wetter winter possible across the Mid-South - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Cooler, wetter winter possible across the Mid-South


In the midst of a hot and humid summer, it’s always fun to look ahead to the winter. This winter could bring more below-average temperatures and wetter conditions. The main reason is El Niño!  Here is how NOAA defines El Niño.

“El Niño is characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, as opposed to La Niña, which characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific. El Niño is an oscillation of the ocean-atmosphere system in the tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather around the globe.”

In a strong El Niño year, the southeast U.S. “typically” sees colder than average temperatures and wetter than average conditions. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center expects a greater than 90% chance that El Niño will continue to strengthen through the winter and most likely into the spring. The image below shows the July 13-19, 2015 sea surface temperature departure from the 1981-2010 average. Sea surface temperatures are running up to 5º C above normal for this time of the year.

A strong El Niño can greatly impact the position of the jet stream and areas of high and low pressure. That directly impacts our weather here in the Mid-South. Many of you are probably wondering if that means we will have another snowy, icy winter like last year. A strong El Niño does not guarantee a winter like last winter, but odds are good that it will be colder than average. Below is the three month outlook from the Climate Prediction Center for December, January and February. There is a 35 to 40 percent chance of below normal temperatures here in the Mid-South. That is a pretty significant percentage for a long range forecast.

If we do see this colder than average pattern and throw in higher than average precipitation,  that will lead to a higher number of chances for frozen precipitation. If the forecast for a strong El Niño holds true, it could mean another wild winter in the Mid-South. As for those of you who are warm weather fans, I would soak up this heat and humidity while you can!

Spencer Denton
Twitter: @sdentonwx
Follow Me On Facebook: Spencer Denton WMC
WMC Action News 5 Storm Tracking Team

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