Mild or miserable? Here’s your 2018 Cleveland winter weather outlook

Mild or miserable? Here’s your 2018 Cleveland winter weather outlook

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Here we go! Another winter weather season is just a few weeks away here in northern Ohio.

So, the question everyone wants answered is, of course, “How much snow will we get, Jason?” Or, “How cold is it going to be this winter?”

Well, let’s just say it’ll be cold with snow from time to time. That much we do know. No matter what you hear, what you read, what you see, we will have snowstorms, and we will have brutal cold, like every year.

The question is: how much cold, or how long will our brutal cold stretches last? Also, how many snowstorms will we have, both region-wide and lake effect?

There are tons of things that go into a seasonal weather forecast. And it’s just that: a forecast.

Not a certainty; it’s a best guess.

One of the key factors is whether or not an El Nino or La Nina will be present in the Pacific Ocean.

El Nino occurs when Pacific Ocean surface waters off the coast of South America are warmer than average. This can disrupt regional and global weather patterns, especially winters in the United States. Usually, El Nino occurs more often than La Nina, its opposite.

If there's an El Nino, like it appears there will be this winter, we look at other El Nino years as clues to what we may see here in Ohio. Usually, that means less snow.

Typically, with an El Nino, more storms will move across the Gulf Coast, West Coast and East Coast with less moisture across the northern tier of the country.

Also, because of El Nino, the jet stream branches split, allowing milder air to move north. However, these jet streams will merge again, usually east of Ohio and create more snowstorms for the East Coast, which could impact parts of eastern Ohio.

With the northern jet sliding north, milder air will also slide with it, bringing warmer air into Ohio.

So, that’s why we are calling for WARMER than normal temperatures this winter.

With most of the storms to our south, and potentially to our east, we are calling for a DRIER-than-normal winter with LESS SNOWFALL.

Typically, we see around 60 or so inches of snow in Cleveland during a winter. Last year we had 53″.

This winter our snowfall forecast is less, with a forecast of 40 to 50 inches of SNOW.

Remember, this forecast is for Cleveland-Hopkins. Out to the east in our primary snow-belt, these numbers will be much higher, especially if the warmer air we expect allows Lake Erie to not freeze, keeping lake effect snows in the forecast all winter long.

For shorter term predictions during our winter months, I sometimes look at other global weather patterns, like the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and the Pacific North American (PNA) Pattern.

Sometimes you may hear me use these climate patterns or indexes on a Facebook Live, or another digital forecast, but I’ll rarely use them on air since they’re tricky to explain and don’t tell a particularly good weather story. These indexes are hard to predict more than a week or two out, so they don’t work well for seasonal predictions.

As always, with any seasonal forecast, we have to look at it over a longer period of time. So, while we may see warmer-than-average temperatures and less snowfall overall, they’ll be plenty of frigid days and also plenty of snow events, not only region-wide, but lake effect as well. But, in the end, it should be less than we normally see and slightly warmer than we typically experience.

Stay WARM and DRY!

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