2017-2018 Tuscarawas Valley Winter Outlook

I suspect that you’ve already read or seen a few winter weather forecasts. Some were issued as far back as September and early October. Since then there have been many changes in the general weather pattern and a lot of new data has entered the picture.

Keep in mind that this is a GENERAL outlook. No one can predict an over-performing winter storm or three 2 to 4 months out that could potentially dump a lot of snow. Or, a particularly nasty cold front that might bring sub-zero temperatures. A seasonal outlook is nothing like a daily or weekly forecast.

One of the more influential factors that will likely have an impact has to do with what we see happening with La Nina. If you recall, La Nina is the cool phase of the Southern Oscillation. It brings cooler than average sea surface temperatures to the central and eastern tropical Pacific. La Nina tends to bring colder temperatures to the Northeast and more snow to the Ohio and Tennessee Valleys.

Climate mets have learned much more about this season’s La Nina since October. Not only has confidence increased regarding the intensity but also the position of the coolest Pacific water. Meteorologists now think that the more eastern position of those cool Pacific waters will up the ante for a colder temperature trend in eastern Ohio this winter.

Other influences that have crept into the picture since October are: the extremely cold conditions and snow pack that has developed in Siberia and central regions of Canada.

The last few winters here in east-central Ohio have been relatively mild. Last winter was THE warmest winter in this area in the last 20 years. We really need to go back to 2010 for our last brutally cold winter here in the Valley.

I do think this year will bring a colder winter than we’ve seen for quite a while – perhaps similar with 2003-2004 and 2008-2009 temperature averages.

Remember, though. These are average temperatures for the season AS A WHOLE. It encompasses the three meteorological winter months (December, January, February). It does not mean it will be colder than normal all the time. We all know breaks in winter cold occur through the winter at times.

While I am fairly confident this winter will be a cold one, that doesn’t mean we could see a ton of snow. With the abundance of cold, of course, any precipitation would fall as snow. And, predicting individual storm systems capable of producing impressive snow accumulation is difficult in even the short term – impossible in a long range forecast.

That being said, if we eliminate any big surprise storms, snow this year looks to be about average to slightly above average for our area. (‘Average’ seasonal snowfall totals are below)

Don’t be surprised by these seemingly low snow numbers. It only covers the three months of meteorological winter. Our ANNUAL winter snowfall is 26 inches and this is the total most folks use when talking about winter snow.

Also keep in mind that many northern Ohio counties are impacted by fierce lake effect snow storms. Yes, sometimes snow from these systems can make their way south into central and east-central Ohio, but not all that often.

Northern portions of the Valley are often more susceptible to snow from lake effect – Bolivar, Strasburg, Zoar, Mineral City. Neighborhoods south of New Philadelphia a far less likely to see much in the way of lake effect snow storms.

Remember, these are averages collected over a 30-year span.

To wrap things up, here are the ‘basic’ winter outlook highlights:

  • Generally, I think we can expect more of an ‘average’ winter this season

    This means it will be a much colder winter than the last few winters here in the Tuscarawas Valley

  • Colder temperatures will translate to higher heating costs for the season

  • About average to slightly above average snowfall barring any high impact storms

I base this long-term forecast on information and data I receive from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the National Weather Service, and a select few meteorologists who I think are the best in their field.

“It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future.” – Yogi Berra

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