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It's always very tough to predict winter weather. There is a lot of variability during the winter, and Kentucky sits in a geographic area that always puts us on the fence between rain and snow. Honestly, you never know what you're going to get around here. Sometimes we can at least get an idea though of what to expect in general as winter wears on. For a while it was looking like December would follow a pattern similar to 1989, which is still the coldest December ever recorded. This year, the cold eased up though and we ended up having some mild weather late in the month. The interesting thing about that extreme cold in December 1989 is that we had lingering cold shots into the following year. In fact, there was a hard freeze in late April 1990. And then we had temperatures close to 40 degrees in June 1990! It's unlikely that we'll see a repeat of that in 2014. Even though this winter isn't taking on that same complection, I do think it's going to be interesting.
If you've followed my winter forecasts over the past couple of years, you've heard me talk about the global indices. Looking at large scale patterns is a good way to try and sniff out smaller scale effects. A couple of the big ones we look at are the PNA and NAO. If you're a big fan of cold and snow, then what you want to see here in Kentucky is the PNA index going positive on the scale and the NAO going negative. What we're seeing right now is slightly the opposite with the PNA predicted slightly negative and the NAO predicted slightly positive. You may have noticed that over the past couple of weeks, we've seen warmer temperatures and less snow here as a result. This looks to continue into the first week of 2014 as well. In fact, another heavy rain event looks to be setting up for the first weekend of January. Take a look at how the GFS weather model shows this setting up for Sunday on the attached chart. We'll have to watch out again for flooding and storms early next week.
Beyond next week though I believe things will change. I think we'll see the indices flip around and I think we'll see harsh winter weather return. This pattern coming up is loaded with potential. I expect that the middle of January will see a return of some snow and cold weather. There is a possibility that it could get rather brutal at times. I think that we may have a little bit of a break from the cold in February and the month could be about average for temperature and precipitation as a whole. As far as March goes I believe this will be a wild month with possible severe weather including tornadoes as well as one good cold shot that could bring snow to Kentucky at some point. I think we'll have to keep an eye on this as it could lead to a nasty season of thunderstorms in the Ohio Valley. For now though, all eyes should be on the cold and snow that I think will return to Kentucky in just a couple of weeks.
Interestingly, the official government outlook for winter shows average temps and precipitation in January, and then slowly creeping into above normal temps with average precipitation by March. They are not predicting unusual cold or snow for us at all. In my opinion, their outlooks are generally not very accurate but it's always fun to look at what they predict. I think they are stuck in the "global warming" mentality even though clearly we're still seeing cold weather all over the globe. In fact, there's so much sea ice at the south pole right now that a Russian research ship was stranded in the ice last week and had to be rescued by a Chinese ice breaking ship. But that's another topic for another time.
If you're a fan of cold and snow, just hang on. Lawrenceburg is about to get its fair share in the coming weeks. We're only a week into winter and we've got a long way to go. Enjoy!