YOU ARE HERE: KSPR HomeCollections

The Official KSPR 2012-2013 Winter Forecast

November 19, 2012|Chief Meteorologist Kevin Lighty |

Springfield, MO — It is one of the toughest things to do. Make a long-range forecast based off of multiple variables and try to decipher what may happen over a 3 month period.

Well I've looked at many things including indicies like ENSO, AO, PDO, solar cycles, old folklore methods, along with a few other secret things I use.

So lets break it down for you!


Also see the video version of this here, it includes some other methods of forecasting winter weather as well:

A big part of a long range forecast has to do with the El Nino Southern Oscillation. That again is the warming or cooling of ocean waters. Last year we were in a La Nina, but this year we are going to be what is called neutral.


The graphic below shos the forecast for ENSO, and notice the green bars are the highest which corresponds to a neutral pattern.

The graphic below shows what the typical pattern is like when we are in a neutral year. Notice the 2 different jet streams, the polar and the sub tropical. Typically that polar jet keeps the real cold air locked up just to our north, and the sub tropical can bring more weather systems our way making for a more active pattern. Sometimes though that polar jet will dip far enough to the south and allow that cold air to spill into our neck of the woods. If this would combing with a storm track from the sub tropical jet then we would be in store for a winter event for sure.


 One thing I like to do is compare previous winters, and try to find an analog Winter when looking at previous ENSO conditions. The years I found to be similar are 1989, 2001, and 2008. During those amounts the average snow was about 13" Also you may recall in 2008 we had winter severe weather. I will talk more about that a little later.

Here is a look at the NOAA winter forecast. They are calling for above average precip. for southern MO and most of AR. The star on the map represents where Springfield is.

When looking at temperatures they are forecasting normal conditions for our location, with slightly above avg. temps southwest of our location.

SO lets get into my thoughts for our winter. I feel that we will be a little above average with temperatures as a whole. Not as crazy warm as last year, BUT still above average. I think that we will have wild temperatures swings where we go from really warm conditions, to really cold, and fluctuate like that all Winter depending on that position of the Polar Jet.

When looking at snowfall, the average is about 17" and of course last year we only had about 3". This year we will find more snow, with 12" to 16" possible.

Keep in mind that is still below average when it comes to snowfall.

Even though our summer was a very dry one, I feel that things will pick up in terms of rain this Winter with 7" to 8" possible.

So all in all, rainfall should be pretty close to normal as opposed to last year being below normal.

One other things I would like to mention is the potential for severe weather may be a little bit higher this Winter. Those winter time tornadoes could be an issue again especially if those Jet streams meet up.

 A study done by a scientist at the Storm Prediction Center looked at winter time tornadoes, which include Jan, Feb. and March, and notice an increase when in a neutral ENSO year. Below is a graphic showing tornado tracks during that time. Notice that a good amount of these occur across Arkansas but some are in southern MO. It will be something to watch closely.

Another thing we look into is what is happening with the Sun. We are in solar cycle 24 right now, and while we are coming out of a minimum and climbing to a maximum, the period we are in right now is still very calm. The activity of the sun has been fairly quiet recently. Some studies say that low solar activity can lad to colder weather patterns. Below is a look at the sun spot activity through October.


 All in all, I feel a little more active winter can be expected but nothing that is too crazy or out of the ordinary. I think everyone will get a little piece of what they want out of this winter. Snow lovers and warm weather lovers included. Time will only tell! Thanks for checking out my forecast and feel free to post comments or questions! Happy Holidays!

Chief Meteorologist Kevin Lighty

Follow KSPR Weather on Twitter and Facebook; you can also follow Kevin on Twitter and Facebook. 

KSPR 33 Articles