Winter Weather Outlook

Temperatures have felt anything but fall like this week, leaving many to wonder if we are in store for another mild winter across the Heartland.

While recent rains have helped parts of the drought stricken Heartland, continued precipitation this winter is needed to help long term.

The winter forecast is less certain than previous yearâ??s thanks to a wavering El Niño, which was expected to have fully developed by now.

El Nino and La Nina refer to periodic warming and cooling, respectively, of the surface of the tropical eastern Pacific Ocean. Both trends can lead to extreme weather but a full El Nino pattern typically results in a dry period for the Midwest.

â??A warmer than normal winter this year associated with El Nino might mean bad news for the farmers in terms of a chance to catch up with precipitation but itâ??s good news for the consumer- less heating bills,â?? University of Missouri Meteorology Professor Tony Lupo said.

With a weaker El Nino there is the potential for very cold, dry weather, but that will depend on a trough sitting over the central United States and it is just too early to tell if that will happen.

Winter is a time to refuel our soils with moisture and with lack of precipitation, extreme drought problems could return next summer.

â??We use the winter to store moisture so then it carries us through the summer. We have very little; we need it down five, six, seven feet. Itâ??s essentially bone dry at the present time,â?? University of Missouri Soil Scientist Randy Miles said.

There is a little bit of good news with a weaker El Nino. Despite being drier, the colder air could help what snow does fall, stay around longer into the spring.

â??Snow is a better precipitation for farmers this winter because snow sits on the surface and as it melts it will soak down into the soil instead of running off like a hard rain might,â?? said Lupo.

As we end October and enter into the winter season, near normal temperatures are expected with slightly below normal precipitation. Snowfall is expected to be near normal this winter, and the potential exist for a few decent snowstorms.

So after last winter's extremely warm temperatures and lack of snow, this year promises to be different.

Average snowfall for the year across the Heartland ranges between 15 inches in our southern counties to 25 inches across our northern counties.