Will you get blasted with snow this winter? Will that snow blower get a good workout? Or is this going to be a mild winter?
Ken Scheeringa, associate state climatologist with the Indiana state Climate Office, says that since the El Nino/La Nina cycle is still stuck in neutral, other factors could dominate winter. One is the Arctic Oscillation. However, it's not clear yet what the impact will be on snow totals and temperatures in Indiana and the Corn Belt, he believes.
Greg Soulje, a private ag meteorologist, based in Chicago, took a long-lens look at winter and has a slightly different conclusion. He's predicting an active weather period with increased chances of storms, more precipitation than usual and more snow than normal in early through mid-winter. He sees it coming down from the Great Lakes across the state.
Soulje agrees it will be because other factors take over since there is no El Nino (warm phase) or La Nina (cool phase) right now. These phases relate to warm or cool tropical waters off the Pacific Ocean. The result is changes in atmospheric pressures and control over wind patterns aloft, that in turn influence weather patterns not only in the Midwest but around the globe.
Both Sheeringa and Soulje concur that what will determine the weather pattern you see, and in turn how much snow and precipitation your area picks up this winter, stems from what happens to the jet stream.
The jet stream is controlled by the factors that determine air circulation patterns aloft. The location and shape of the jet stream over winter can determine where storms form and how they track across the country, including across the Corn Belt and Indiana.
You can find more in-depth comments from both Scheeringa and Soulje in the next issue of Indiana Prairie Farmer, due out later this month.