The fifth-wettest September on record following a searing drought, the warmest March on record, all of it adds up to a weather year that is anything normal. Based on that backdrop, even climatologists who make their living looking ahead and predicting trends aren't sure what winter might bring to Indiana this time around.
Dev Nyogi, Indiana state climatologist, says there are just too many factors at work right now to get a clear signal on the weather. October is likely to turn dry for a spell, and a warmer trend may develop in later October and on into November. Beyond that, the picture gets cloudy.
The problem is that one of the most important weather-forcing functions for North America is in transition. An El Nino, or warm phase with warm tropical Pacific waters, is trying to develop, but it is slow. If it does develop, it could be weak and slow to have its influence felt. On the other hand, climatologists will also watch another factor that impacts winter weather here, called the Arctic oscillation pattern. It's not sure yet how the combination of these factors will play out.
It's a teachable moment for weather and the public, including farmers, the state climatologist hints. Sometimes the best answer is that it's too early to tell, or that climatologists don't know what's ahead, rather than just pulling something out of the air.
Right now Nyogi says it appears this could be a winter that continues the variability seen this summer, with one month being colder and normal and the next then being warmer than normal. That will affect weather precipitation comes down as snow or as rain.
However, right now it's just not a clear picture when he looks at weather data. It's a 'wait and see' situation on what happens with El Nino.