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Winter weather forecast

Posted at 10:24 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-18 23:24:48-05

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — For several weeks, our 3 News Now Weather Alert Team meteorologists have been working on their winter forecast.

To find out if this winter will be anything like last year, chief meteorologist Jennifer Zeppelin and meteorologist Mark Stitz have released their predictions for the upcoming season.

Last year brought us record cold and an unusually snowy winter season with over 50 inches of snow.

This winter, when looking at a long-term forecast, we have to start with the bigger picture.

Everyone's heard terms like El Niño or La Niña--this is when we look at the water temperatures over the parts of the Pacific Ocean along the equator.

Right now, we're very close to average for this time of year, which puts us more in a neutral or La Nada position.

However, there are some signs that we might shift back to a weaker El Niño over the next couple of months, but we'll have to wait and see how that plays out.

A typical La Nada event brings colder air surges that come out of the arctic and drop down right over parts of Nebraska, Iowa and the Great Lakes region.

Our meteorologists looked at similar La Nada events to compare to this year.

The most recent event was back in the 2003 and 2004 season, which gave us about 48 inches of snow. We came in below average in other La Nada events in 1960 and 1993, so there's no clear signal that we're going to see a huge snow or very low snow total.

While the uncertainty makes forecasting for this upcoming winter season a little more challenging, we've already seen some arctic outbreaks like in October and a larger one in November.

Winter traditionally brings cold snaps, but one in early November already brought us to the single digits.

October and November usually come in light as far as snow totals, but the main part of winter--December, January and February--in each of those three months, we average just over 6 inches of total accumulation.

Our meteorologists predict that in December we'll see above average snowfall, which could mean more than 6 inches of snow. Temperatures are expected to be below average.

Heading into January, it's likely we will see above average snowfall again, but temperatures could come a little closer to average.

If we get too much snow on the ground across the region, that can significantly lock in the cold air, which could change things as we go towards the end of winter.

So far this fall, we came in pretty close to what we saw last fall--a few arctic outbreaks very early in the season and a few small snowfalls early on.

The wildcard out of all of this will be El Niño. Depending on the strength, it could increase our chances for even more snow.

When it comes to snow, our meteorologists are predicting above average; however, nothing like what we saw last year.

Our average snowfall runs at about 27 inches and this year, they're predicting about 6 to 10 inches above that--bringing us to a range of 33 to 37 inches.

Our meteorologists will continue to monitor any possible changes to the winter forecast in the coming months.