KSN’s winter weather outlook: Explaining La Niña and its impact on Kansas

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – We have all heard of La Niña. It looks like it will take aim and influence not only our winter, but it could also affect our spring weather season.

In Kansas, we are used to extreme weather, and this winter’s guaranteed to have its fair share. Already in November, cold air is locking into place in the arctic. While it sits and spins, waves of colder air are pushed in our direction. We’ll remain on the western edge of these bursts. These cold air intrusions will be short, which will allow us to warm back up quickly.

EXPLAINING LA NINA

This lines up with what we see during a La Niña year. This kicks into gear when unusually cold temperatures surround the equator in the Pacific Ocean.

Colder temperatures affect the Pacific Northwest and states along the U.S. and Canadian border. In the Deep South, the temperatures are warmer than normal.

As for moisture, northern states and the Ohio Valley will see the most this winter. The southern half, won’t get much.

KANSAS OUTLOOK

Back in 2010 to 2011 and 2011 to 2012, we had two back to back strong La Niñas here in Kansas. Corn farmers will remember how awful their crops were those summers. This season, it will be weaker. Depending on how far south these surges of cold air go, northern Kansas will have cooler temperatures than southern Kansas. The graphic below shows these temps should average warmer than normal.

SNOW POSSIBILITY

However, we’ll still receive stretches of bitterly cold air along with a few snowstorms. We will see better snow chances arriving in January which will continue through most of February. Snowfall amounts will be lower than normal in southern Kansas with more tracking in the northern half of the state.

ICE

One concern I have early on in the season is ice. Given the back and forth nature of temperatures, this raises the potential especially for south central Kansas.

EARLY SPRING

If La Niña lasts longer, then we should turn warmer by March. This means our spring severe weather season will start earlier, which could lead to more tornadoes. If it fades quickly as expected, then we will stay cold through March with more snow likely.

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