White Christmas likely, but not a sure thingIf you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, the odds are in your favor. “At our latitude, the Interstate 94 latitude, we have a Christmas that doesn’t have any snow on the ground once every seven or eight years,” said John Wheeler, meteorologist with WDAY.
By: Kari Lucin, The Jamestown Sun
If you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, the odds are in your favor.
“At our latitude, the Interstate 94 latitude, we have a Christmas that doesn’t have any snow on the ground once every seven or eight years,” said John Wheeler, meteorologist with WDAY.
That’s based on approximately 100 years of records for eastern North Dakota, he added.
According to Lindsay Tardif-Huber, a meteorologist in the National Weather Service’s Bismarck office, the likelihood of snow on the ground for Christmas Day is somewhere between 60 to 75 percent.
And generally speaking, the Jamestown area gets about 7.5 inches of snow total during the entire month of December, she said.
As far as the long-range winter forecast goes, it may yet be too soon to tell, Wheeler said.
“This particular winter, there really aren’t any good sequences of clues” to what the rest of the winter will be like, Wheeler said. “What few clues are out there are in conflict with each other — there is no El Nino, there is no La Nina, Siberian snow cover is about average.”
El Nino and La Nina are weather patterns over the Pacific Ocean that have strong influences over the weather. According to the National Weather Service, an El Nino is characterized by unusual warm surface ocean temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific, whereas a La Nina is characterized by unusually cold ocean temperatures there.
An El Nino typically causes increased rainfall across the southern U.S. and increased winter temperatures in the North Central states and a La Nina will cause warmer winter temperatures than usual in the Southeast and cooler than normal ones in the Northwest.
So many factors influence the weather in the short term that it’s simply too difficult to predict it in the long term, Wheeler said.
Tardif-Huber said the NWS outlook issued Nov. 15 was for near-normal precipitation and below-normal temperatures for the Jamestown area this winter.
“Average” for the month of December means 19 degrees at the beginning of the month and 11 toward the end, and 7.5 inches of snow.
“They only usually make changes if they see a significant change as a trend,” Tardif-Huber said of the NWS. “The forecast is right on now, based on the current trends that they see.”
The National Weather Service does not foresee another winter like last year’s, with a brown Christmas and balmy temperatures.
“That was one of the warmer winters we have on record,” Tardif-Huber noted.
It had a lead-in of an extremely warm fall, which was also not the case this year, Wheeler said. This year’s fall was close to average as far as temperatures went, although the area is still dealing with a drought.
“The one thing that’s missing from last year, we never really got any snow on the ground last winter, and my suspicion is that we will get some snow fairly soon this winter,” Wheeler said. “There are a couple of chances we might see some snow this week —probably nothing really heavy, and no big storms coming this way.”
According to the National Weather Service’s extended weather forecast, there will be a 20 percent chance of snow on Friday and Saturday, with a 30 percent chance on Saturday night and a 20 percent chance of snow on Sunday.
Prior to that, the only precipitation forecast is for slight chances of rain and freezing rain on Wednesday night, with a 20 percent chance of precipitation then.
For the latest weather forecasts, visit www.jamestownsun.com/ event/weather/group/weather/.
Sun reporter Kari Lucin can be reached at 701-952-8453 or by email at email@example.com