It’s only a few days into fall and already Iowa forecasters are talking about the chances of a nasty winter ahead. Iowa, and much of the globe, are again under what’s called the La Nina weather pattern, which state climatologist Harry Hillaker says usually means a snowier and more frigid winter is in store.
“La Nina slightly favors a little bit cooler, a little bit wetter-than-normal for Iowa for the midwinter season,” Hillaker says. “The further north you get in the state, the better the odds are in that regard.” Last winter, under the pattern, Iowa averaged nearly 41-inches of snow statewide and an average temperature of just under 19-degrees, both well beyond the norm.
“It’s been 12 of the last 20 La Nina events have brought us a colder-than-usual winter,” Hillaker says. “Also, 12 of the last 20 have been wetter than usual. Not that we’ve had all La Nina winters but we’ve actually had four consecutive colder-than-normal winters in Iowa already and five in a row that have been snowier than usual.”
Even if parts of the state do get buried in snow drifts, he says the odds favor a variety of weather based on geography, though it stands to reason that the farther north you go, the greater the chances of being colder and snowier. He says last winter is a good example of that.
Hillaker says, “Northeastern sections were far above normal, thanks especially in some cases to a record snowy December in northeastern Iowa, but southern parts of the state didn’t see nearly as much snow and not nearly as much duration of snow cover as we’ve seen in recent winters.” While Hillaker says he doesn’t put much stock in the prognosticating abilities of the Old Farmer’s Almanac, some Iowans may prefer the tome’s forecast.
The almanac is predicting a mild, dry Iowa winter ahead.