Several weather forces are in battle to determine winter’s bite in farm country. The bulk of the Midwest should see average temperatures through the first part of the year, according to the National Weather Service.
“For winter precipitation, I lean toward below-normal moisture over most of the Corn Belt, except the eastern part,” says Mike Hoffman, “AgDay” meteorologist. “I lean toward above-normal precipitation across the South and most of the East from the southern Great Lakes to the East Coast.”
This year will be challenging to predict, says Eric Snodgrass, principal atmospheric scientist for Nutrien Ag Solutions. “We don’t have a true El Niño or La Niña happening,” he says. “Meteorologists want to provide a long-range forecast, but nothing is very dominant.”
Factors Shaping Winter Weather Patterns
1. Strong Indian Ocean Dipole. This pattern has been the dominant factor through the fall months, Snodgrass says, and should be over by January.
2. Warm water in the North Pacific Ocean. “This will likely control weather patterns,” Hoffman says. “This typically leads to cold air dropping southward into the U.S.”
3. Low Chukchi Sea ice. “This is the reason we didn’t get a fall in the Midwest and went from summer to winter so quickly,” Snodgrass says. This sea ice is the lowest ever measured.