I-Team Report: Winter weather preview - WNEM TV 5

I-Team Report: Winter weather preview

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The First Warn 5 weather team is hard at work studying the biggest factors that will impact the upcoming winter season.

“What’s winter going to do to us? Well, we’re going to dig into the numbers and compare it to the usual average of what we normally can expect for a winter. Take a look at some of the big climate indicators and even how the oceans might play a part,” Chief Meteorologist Bryan Bachman explained.

The cooling of the Pacific Ocean, a phenomenon known as La Nina, will play a big role in Mid-Michigan.

“What often happens here in a La Nina year, here in the Great Lakes, is that southern parts of the region will often trend wetter. And in winter cases, that’s going to mean, in general, a bit more in the way of snow than you might see in an average year," Bachman said.

So, what is an average winter? TV5 Meteorologist Claire Cameron explains.

“In Flint, the average temperature for those three months is about 32.1 degrees. In Saginaw, the average temp is about 31.3 degrees. Flint has about 35.7 inches of snow. In Saginaw, the annual snowfall is about 41.8 inches, with 29-and-a-half of those falling in the three months we call winter," Cameron said.

While a La Nina pattern may develop over the winter season, TV5 Meteorologist Chris Easlick said it will be on the weaker side.

“When it comes to those weaker La Ninas, although snowfall is generally above average over the last five occurrences, temperatures are a bit of a mixed bag," Easlick said.

Our winter fortunes don’t hinge on La Nina alone. TV5 Meteorologist Dan Giroux explains the relationship between low and high-pressure systems in the Northern Hemisphere will have a say in our weather as well.

“So now that the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation are headed towards their negative phases, and when you combine that with the weak La Nina we’re about to see, that means we’re going to see a little bit more snowfall than average for this time of year. And temperatures should remain closer to average," Giroux said.

You may have heard people say that winters aren’t what they use to be. So TV5 talked to experts at the National Weather Service to find out if old man winter has lost his luster.

“It really all depends on when you grew up, and exactly how you remember your younger days,” said Rich Pollman with the National Weather Service Detroit Office.

He said winters in the '50s were a warm, snowless decade. The '60s were cooler and snowier. If you were raised in the '70s and '80s, you’ll remember lots of cold without much snow. And most millennials may reminisce about the warm and snowless winters of the '90s.

Pollman expects these changing winter patterns to continue. But he does see a trend taking shape as we move into the next 100 years.

“Our winter season is getting warmer. Not too surprising with a warming planet. But the other trend is that we’re actually seeing more snowfall, especially for the Flint and Saginaw area," Pollman said.

Of course, our focus is on the year ahead, and Bachman has a prediction.

“So, taking everything into consideration, it looks like as far as this winter is concerned temperatures are poised to run near-average this year. Your typical Michigan cold that we’re all too used to here in the Great Lakes State. As far as the snowfall is concerned, things look to be trending in the slightly above-average category. Of course, keep it tuned to TV5 all fall and winter-long for your continued forecast from the First Warn 5 weather team," Bachman said.

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