First Warn 5's bold weather predictions - WNEM TV 5

First Warn 5's bold weather predictions

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

TV5 takes pride in asking the tough questions. Now it’s the viewers’ turn to ask TV5 the tough questions.

We all want to know what we can expect this winter and who better to ask than the experts – the First Warn Five weather team.

“One of the things that’s more than likely going to be a huge factor in how our winter plays out is the very strong El Nino that we have in place,” Chief Meteorologist Bryan Bachman said.

Bachman said this winter’s El Nino will be one of the strongest on record. So what is the phenomenon that is El Nino and how is it going to impact our weather in Mid-Michigan?

“Well, El Nino actually has, believe it or not, more to do with the oceans than it actually does with the atmosphere. It’s an anomaly in the sea surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean,” Bachman said.

That anomaly is very warm water temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean, El Nino’s signature feature.

We know the Great Lakes has an impact on our winter weather, but this year the Pacific Ocean could too. Even though it’s thousands of miles away, that warm water might affect residents in the Great Lakes Bay Region.

“With an El Nino predicted so strong this year, typically you’ll have a larger ridge toward the western portion of the United States. Now depending on how large that ridge is, it could either go above Michigan or below Michigan and that is kind of where that jet stream comes into play for either the warmer or cooler temperatures,” Meteorologist Daphne DeLoren said.

The jet stream is a narrow band of high wind currents in the atmosphere. Typically, it’s the border between cold air to the north and warm air to the south.

If the El Nino pattern holds, DeLoren said we could have a lot of warmer than average days this winter.

This El Nino event has happened before. TV5’s weather team thinks this year’s version could rival 1997 and 1982. Those were particularly strong El Nino years.

Meteorologist Chris Easlick is looking inside the numbers.

“We average about 40 to 50 inches a year in Mid-Michigan. In Saginaw in 1997 we saw about 22 inches of snow. So that came in about 18 inches below average. And then our average high temperature was about 36 degrees. Looking at Flint in 1982 only got 12.2 inches of snow. So hardly any, that’s way below our average. And then the average high in Flint in 1982 was nearly 40 degrees for the entire winter,” Easlick said.

If history repeats itself, will snow lovers be heartbroken this winter? Meteorologist Claire Cameron said there’s reason to stay optimistic if you like to slide on the slopes.

“We are in Michigan so we’re guaranteed to see snow at least a couple of times in this upcoming winter. But if this stronger ridge, typical with the El Nino pattern, holds, we could see more of these storms. More of these clippers kind of ridge, that ridge a little bit further off to our north and the east. So there’s potential to see a fewer number of those snowflakes,” Cameron said.

What can you count on when all the variables are considered?

“We’re leaning towards a drier than average, but also warmer than average winter. I think we’ll have a good chance of seeing, you know where our average highs are normally in the 30s. I think 40s wouldn’t be out of the question, 50s, things like that. And then from there it just depends on how the rest of the factors set up. Regardless of what happens or how the winter shapes up, you’ll know that we’ll always be here to keep you one step ahead of it right here in the weather center,” Bachman said.

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