Chief Meteorologist Jennifer Zeppelin's Winter Weather Forecast
After one of the mildest winters ever across Green Country, it looks like we could be in for a bit of change in 2013.
The forecasters with the climate prediction center just released the winter outlook, and it points to a shift in our current weather pattern.
The reason behind the change is something you've heard meteorologists talk a lot about over the past decade, El Nino. After months of cooler than normal sea surface temperatures the waters are warming up again which signals a sign that El Nino is returning. Forecasters with the CPC believe this El Nino event doesn't appear to be a strong one. Even so, warmer than normal ocean temperatures could still provide enough of a shift to the Pacific jet stream to allow some southern states to be back on the storm track.
Green Country's winter season is typically the driest time of year, but when I looked back at the most recent El Nino event in 2010, Tulsa received above normal precipitation January through March and not all of it was rain. During that three month period we received more than 15 inches of snow, which was a few inches above normal.
However, none of those snow storms come close to the record snows experienced in February 2011. Tulsa recorded over 22 inches in that month alone.
So, will we see something like that again in 2013?
Hard to say this far out, but the latest winter forecast from the climate prediction center is leaning toward a more normal winter season throughout the Tulsa Metro - at least when it comes to precipitation.
If that's the case, we won't be as moisture starved as we were this past winter. So more rain, snow and even ice could be in our future. Just what type of precipitation we could see will depend on another key ingredient - the temperatures.
Right now the outlook for January through March shows eastern Oklahoma will experience above normal temperatures. On average, Tulsa's highs in the winter range from the upper 40s and low 50s with morning lows in 20s and 30s.
So while this winter appears it will be mild, don't assume we won't see blasts of cold air. Today is a perfect example after highs in the 80s temperatures plunged into 50s thanks to a strong cold front. Plus, don't forget we experienced the earliest freeze ever in Tulsa at the beginning of the month.
If this month is any indication of what's to come we could experience a little bit of everything this coming winter.