Dave Murray’s Long-Range 2013-2014 Winter Forecast

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ST. LOUIS, MO (KTVI)-Fall has been doing what Fall should do in the middle of the nation. It provides some spectacular weather, but it also sets the stage for a step down in temperatures and an increase in an active weather pattern. Fall did the trick this year getting us ready for the winter season.

Data pix.

December 2013

This December looks like an interesting month as a weak el Niño gets going. It does not have a clear cut signaturebut it will be out in the central Pacificand that creates a little doubt in the details. The weak el Niño will be in play this December, but for this first month of winter I’m not convinced it is much of a player. As a result, temperatures will be on a roller coaster ride with no solid pattern in sight. There will be some pleasant days, pleasant days for December, and that works well for holiday plans. There will also be 2 maybe 3 impressive December cold shots. It won’t be anything super extremebut enough to tell us we are now in the winter slide. I think when we average out the month temperatures will be very close to the average or a touch below for a typical December in and around St. Louis. The swings will make it bearable and easy to deal with. Long lasting intense cold in December will be tough to come by. I expect no records and nothing below zero.

As for moisture, with the temperature swings it will be a rather active month. The two major storm tracks of winter will be in play, the Alberta Clipper track from the Northwest. These storms typically have limited moisture but pump in the cold blasts. I see three clipper type stormsand they will offer the best shot of seeing snow, but amounts will be on the light side. Yes, we can have big snows in December, but that is more the exception rather than the rule. The other storm track will be our classic Southwest push, the Texas panhandle low pressure.  I’m looking for 2 of these but am thinking the cold air will not be in placeand they will be mainly rainmakers. So when the month is said and done, rainfall will be above average and snowfall will be below average.

December also brings up the toughest forecast of any for a long range forecast: What’s the weather for Christmas. Will it be white or green? This is a tough one this year. Of course, any one day forecast in a long range is tough, but the patterns will have a lot of variety in December. There will be storms and temperature swings. Confidence is low with this so I have to go with a green Christmas for St. Louis. But let’s stay up to date on this. How's that for a hedge

Things to look for in December

  • The great horned owls begin courting. They are easy to hear at night
  • Check out the sky and pick out the winter constellation Orion
  • The bald eagles start to arrive in large numbers

December 2013 Highlights

  • See-saw temperature pattern. Some nice days, some cold...no records or below zero
  • It will be an active month for storms, cold rains and limited snow
  • A tough call but thinking it’s a green Christmas in St. Louis this December
Data pix.

January 2014

When January arrives it typically brings hard core winter. It is one of the toughest months to get through here in St. Louis. The holidays are over, the days are short, and the nights long. It is also a month that brings solid winter weather: wind, rain, ice and snow. But Mother Nature knows how tough it can be and will toss a bone our way in the form of the January Thaw, a nice mid-winter's break. But with or without the thaw, January is a prime month for cabin fever.

Forecasting this January appears to be shaping up as a real struggle, not only with this long term look but also in the short term as we get into the month. The weak el Niño is very much in play and if we see a turn stronger or weaker than I’m expecting it will have major implications to the weather. So looking long range, the problem is that I don't see any solid patterns showing their face. Not good. So it’s all about variety in January with temperatures. The classic St. Louis see-saw, at times cold In fact, times look very cold but no records. Other times it will feel like the back of winter has been broken. Because of these swings, the January Thaw should show up right on schedule for the third week of the month. But when looking at the swings, I thinkcold will win out for the overall month and temperatures will be below average for January. Plan for lots of inside activities but there will be some days for outdoor fun.

As for moisture, you know the drill, with the see-saw temperature pattern the storm track will also be all about variety. There will be two impressive cold shots with the Alberta Clipper storm track and that will be our best shot at snow. The southern track will also be alive and well, bringing two to three systems with rain mixed with sleet and ice at times. Moisture will be near to a little above average and snowfall will also be near to above average. Think of this January as the warm-up act for winter. That’s a February tease for the snow-bunnies.

Things to look for in January

  • Look for red-tailed hawks perched along the highways looking for food
  • Watch for chickadees feeding up and down the trees
  • Beavers begin breeding this month

January 2014 Highlights

  • More temperature swings...but cold will win for the month
  • The January Thaw will show up right on schedule
  • A rather active month for moisture. Rain and snow will be above average

Data pix.

February 2014

We hit the month of February and start thinking that we have make it through much of the winter season. We start to think of spring, start planning the garden, but not so fast. This month will knock those thoughts down and remind us that winter is far from over. It can bring plenty of cold airand it’s also the month that can bring some very strong winter storms with snow and ice.

The winter of the weak el Niño will still be very much in place as we go through the last month of the winter season. However, I’m rolling the dice here. I think the el Niño will lose a little power for this last month of Winter so the flow from the north will be wide open from the middle of the nation to the east coast. We should see several impressive cold shots from the Arctic. The deepest cold will be to our east/northeast but close enough for us to get my attention. Mild air will be hard to find. It looks like a pure winter month for temperaturesand that means the budget gets busted for our heating costs. Temperatures will be below average for this month and some signs they could be well below average.

The northern storm track will be the big player this month.  The southern track does not go into hibernation, but getting pushed well to the south. So what we see should lean towards is snow and ice. But here's the problem snow bunnies, this intense northern storm track will be moisture starved much of the time and the Gulf of Mexico moisture does not link with the monster Arctic surges from the north. I am thinking of 3 to 5 weather events in February, but snowfall will be light to moderate with the main storm track. I am thinking snowfall will be above average and rainfall below average, but many of the February snows will dry, wind driven snows.

Things to look for in the month of February

  • The red flower buds of the sliver maples swell with the first warm spell
  • The chickadees begin to sing the first bird song of the year
  •  Woodchucks are still sound asleep in their underground nests

February 2014 Highlights

  • Cold air will be in full force most of the month bringing hard core winter
  • The southern storm track goes south but the northern track is alive and well and very active
  • Most moisture will be in the form of snow and ice. Rainfall will be below average

Winter Summary

Winter in St. Louis will be interesting.  A slow start in the month of December then gearing up in January. By February, look for solid, hard core winter in the month of February. Look for temperature swings especially in December and January. Yes, there will be a January Thaw. As we go into February, the arctic opensand that door stays open. As for moisture, a variety in the month of December, trending more toward rain than snow. Then in the step-down in January it becomes more snow than rain. February brings much more snow than rain. A little bit of something for everyone and I will be on my forecasting toes all winter long. Plus, we have to remember that some of our biggest snowfalls happen in the month of March, but that’s for another long range forecast.

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