MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - December 1 was the official kick-off to Meteorological Winter, which refers to the three coldest months of the year: December, January, and February.
As meteorologists, we forecast day to day changes in weather patterns, but we can also look even farther down the road to see what could potentially impact our area from month to month or even season to season. Based on patterns and trends - both globally and locally - here is a look at our projected Winter Outlook for 2019/2020. Let’s dive in!
While the El Niño Southern Oscillation climate pattern (also known as ENSO) often can influence the weather during winter months, we are currently in a neutral phrase that will likely last until Spring. In the absence of El Niño (or La Niña), long-term trends play a huge role in helping to forecast a long-term outlook.
December: The month - as a whole - looks to trend slightly warmer than normal. There looks to be 1-2 shots of arctic air that arrive over the next few weeks.
January: Expect colder than normal temperatures for the major of the month, but specially during the first two weeks.
February: Temperatures likely remain warmer than normal, with some evidence showing we could be significantly surpass average temperatures.
December: The short-term forecast suggests a dry first few days of the month, but there could be several opportunities for wet weather during the first few weeks. After that, we trend into a drier than normal pattern.
January: Looks like the end of 2019 is relatively dry, and 2020 begins on a quiet note as well... the month as a whole does not look to be wet, and that could help suppress storm tracks in the surrounding area.
February: An uptick in activity is anticipated, and we will likely be dealing with a wetter than normal month.
Chance of snow/storms
As previously mentioned, ENSO is currently in a neutral phrase, which is sometimes (jokingly) referred to as “La Nada" since we are not in an El Niño or La Niña pattern.
After looking over data from previous winters, the majority of snow events (16 of 24 measurable snowfalls) happened during La Nada phrase when compared to El Niño (5 of 24) or La Niña (3 of 24).
That trend of seeing bigger snowfall totals also was more prominent during a neutral phrase of 14 total events happening in Montgomery with accumulating snow greater than at least 1″, 10 of 14 occurred during a La Nada year, versus 2 respectfully during an El Niño or La Niña phrase.
So, does that mean we can say for sure that yes, it will snow and it will snow big? Not exactly, but the data does suggest that if there was to be snow falling in Alabama, this would be good timing based on the current climate pattern we are in.