As Iowans dread the winter ahead due to predictions of rapidly rising natural gas prices, there’s encouraging news from weather watchers. While we’re only a few days into fall, Midwest climatologist Al Dutcher says it appears the winter season will be warmer than usual. The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting a December, January and February that will have a tendency toward above-normal temperatures. While many areas of the Midwest are reeling from years of drought, Dutcher says the long-range forecast indicates we may be getting a sizeable snowpack that would melt next spring, replenishing shallow rivers and bringing much-needed moisture to Iowa’s crops. Dutcher says there’s significant “troughing” action in the western U.S. in the upper atmosphere which, if it continues through the fall and into the winter, would bring several large snow systems emerge from the central Rockies. The Rockies are already seeing some heavy snow in higher elevations, which he says is good for water supplies. Dutcher says the indications are the weather may be a bit eclectic at times. He says we’ll see some wide temperature swings, much like we did last week, and says he wouldn’t be surprised if those continue throughout the entire winter. Within a day or two last week, temperatures for much of Iowa went from highs in the 90s and lows in the 70s and 80s to highs around 70 with lows in the 40s.
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