Waiting for the snows of January 2012.01.04

Written by David Green.



January, our snowiest month, but this year we’re all still waiting.

Some of us aren’t waiting—we’re just glad we’re missing—but there are people who want to get out their snow machines and others who want to go sledding and a few who have skis. 

There’s even that minority that doesn’t  enjoy shoveling and sliding through a slippery winter, but gives in and says, “If it’s going to be cold, we might as well have snow.”

But where’s the snow?

Morenci weather observer George Isobar said 5.3 inches fell during December, but there was measurable snow on the ground for only two days.

Snow finally arrived Sunday in western and northern Michigan, but there’s not much to speak of here in the south.

“It’s entertaining to look through the long-range forecasts,” Isobar said, “particularly now that the season is underway. Who are you going to trust for an accurate forecast?”

Overall, Isobar said, forecasters are calling for a “brutal winter”—Arctic blasts and lots of snow.

And here in southern Michigan/northwest Ohio? We’re still waiting.

A meteorologist from AccuWeather said a couple of months ago that this area might jump quickly into winter in November due to a La Niña effect in the Pacific Ocean.

Not a great guess. November was significantly warmer than average and rain—not snow—was way above average.

That same forecaster said the weather in this area from December through February will bring above-average snowfall and temperatures a little colder than normal.

Let’s check that one out. As Isobar said, there was measurable snow on the ground only two days last month and the temperature was abnormally warm.

The meteorologist also suggested that this winter could certainly reach the top 10 snowiest ever recorded.

“He might be right,” Isobar said, “but it’s getting off to a late start. Last year’s snow didn’t really get going until February, but the season total was right around average.”

The AccuWeather snowfall chart is a little odd, Isobar said. Despite saying it’s going to be the worst ever in Chicago—“People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter”—the chart shows less snow than last winter.

“I don’t suppose people would be excited about a forecast saying it won’t be as bad as last year,” Isobar said. “People tend to love forecasts of bad weather, so it’s usually made out to be rather dire every time a storm approaches.”

Snowday.com delivers an end-of-the-world forecast: “Overall the winter of 2011-2012 will be one for the ages, one winter that will prove to bury cities with snow.…”

Weather Advance: Snowier and colder than average in this area.

The Weather Centre: Very heavy snowfall.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration: Colder and wetter.

What about the Old Farmers Almanac? Finally, a forecast that doesn’t come close to the word “brutal.”

In parting ways with the bad-news forecasts, the Farmer’s Almanac predicts slightly milder temperatures than normal, along with below-normal precipitation and near-normal snowfall.

But don’t put too much stock in the Almanac forecast, warns Isobar. 

“They said this area would experience some of the coldest periods in late November—when it was in the 40s and 50s—and mid-December—it was actually never below freezing. Mid-December was also supposed to be among the snowiest periods.”

The first four days of January were predicted to bring snow showers and seasonable temperatures.

“It’s still pretty green here,“ Isobar said. “Heavy snow came to the western side of the state and the temperature was the coldest of the season.”

It looks like the obvious thing to do, Isobar says, is to wait and see.

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