Nov 13, 2012 4:44 PM by Rob Perillo
The Climate Prediction Center's forecast for the U.S. this winter calls for above normal temperatures for the Western States from December through February. The rest of the country should experience a "near-normal" pattern with the exception of below normal temperatures across the Florida Peninsula.
Meanwhile the precipitation pattern should bring drier than normal conditions to the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest while a more active, but rather weak El Nino is anticipated to bring above normal rain patterns to the Gulf Coast States.
In addition to El Nino possibly influencing the sub-tropical jet-stream, the Arctic Oscillation, which is the related to the orientation of the polar jet stream remain low-confidence wild cards when forecasting conditions anywhere in the U.S. this winter.
So what's the bottom line for Acadiana? The easiest part of the forecast will be the likelihood of a colder winter than what we experienced last year. During the period from December through February Acadiana saw only 6 freezes with the coldest reading all winter long of 28 degrees in Lafayette.
The previous two winters Acadiana averaged 21 freezes with the coldest readings of 20 degrees during the 2009/2010 winter and 21 degrees for the 2010/2011 winter season.
Acadiana can and does see great winter to winter variability but the odds of another much milder than normal winter like last winter remain quite low.
As for precipitation patterns in Acadiana, although the anomalies show wetter than normal conditions possible for Acadiana due to a more active El Nino forecast, there is a high degree of uncertainty on weather the phenomenon will develop this winter or wait until spring.
So with a possible weak El Nino at best and due to the expected average of the Arctic Oscillation position, a near-normal precipitation pattern for the region is the best forecast at this time.
Although these forecasts are for overall "general: patterns for the area, it does not mean that Acadiana will not avoid a brief arctic plunge nor do they imply the risk of winter-type precipitation.
Acadiana has experienced snow and ice storms in above and below normal winter temperature and precipitation regimes...so each year there is always the risk of snow. But on average Acadiana will see one inch of snow every ten years.
But prior to last winter the area experienced three accumulating snows in two years...before that it was February 1988...further proof that there is always a lot of variability to our winters.