Snow in Louisiana? NOAA Revises Winter Weather Outlook
NOAA the "official government weather guessers" has revised their long-range winter weather outlook and that has some asking if the changes mean a better chance of snow in Louisiana for cities like Lafayette, Lake Charles, and Baton Rouge? Do y'all remember this from 2018?
If I recall, we also got a nice dusting of snow around Mardi Gras just last year too. Surprisingly the chillier outlook for January through March for Louisiana and the Deep South is being affected by a weather phenomenon that most people associate with Hurricane Season.
Many of you are familiar with El Nino and La Nina, both of those phenomena are associated with water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. An El Nino pattern means water temperatures in the Pacific Ocean are warmer than normal.
This usually suppresses tropical weather development in the Atlantic Ocean. A La Nina pattern means water temperatures are cooler in that same part of the Pacific and that often enhances tropical development during the summer months.
Forecasters with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration or NOAA for short say we are in a La Nina pattern. We have been for a while actually but thanks to an abundance of Saharan dust this summer, the tropics were "quieter" than expected. But what does this have to do with snow in Louisiana this winter?
History has shown that a La Nina pattern usually allows for colder and wetter conditions across the eastern half of the United States and warmer and drier conditions across the western half of the country. It's almost as if the country gets split in half.
In the Winter Outlook the Climate Prediction Center issued in September, Louisiana and the Deep South were projected to have above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. The Revised Winter Outlook from the CPC still has Louisiana forecast to be drier than normal but not as dry as the September outlook suggested.
We've featured the two forecast maps for you side by side. The September outlook is on the left and the revised forecast is on the right.
You can see that's a pretty big change in just a couple of months. The fact that the La Nina pattern is now forecast to remain in place at least through February could mean even more changes than the one these forecast projections suggest.
Okay, this addresses a change in one of the necessary ingredients for snow, namely moisture, the other factor is temperature. Here is the revised outlook for temperatures across the country for the next three months. Again, we've placed September forecast on the left hand side of the image and the revised forecast is on the right.
As you can see, Louisiana is still in the "above normal" temperature zone but not nearly as deeply entrenched as it was in September. Also, you'll notice the "dip" in the equal chance zone shifted further westward. That suggests that there could be a better chance of colder air events dropping into the state. At least more so than previously thought.
It should be noted that the maps above actually represent two different forecast time periods. The forecasts issued in September were for the months of November, December, and January. While the revised forecasts, the maps on the right hand side of the images, are forecasts for January, February, and March. It's not a total "apples to apples" so we wanted you to be aware if you didn't see the fine print.
Will It Snow in Louisiana This Winter?
Obviously no forecaster can answer that question and be 100% accurate, especially in these long range model forecasts. However, the Old Farmer's Almanac, who has a sneaky accurate track record of predicting snowfall and hurricanes suggests that January will be when we get our snow. Of course the OFA did forecast a tropical storm for Louisiana on Halloween but that didn't happen, did it?
Based on history, South Louisiana, generally the I-10 corridor has the threat of frozen precipitation a couple of times each winter. It seem as if out of every 10 winter weather events that are forecast only one of them actually come to fruition. But then again, it doesn't take much of an icy glaze to wreak havoc on our "warm weather designed" roadways, now does it?
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