Forecasting Ohio: Winter 2012-2013

By: Buckey2745 , 3:53 PM GMT on November 05, 2012

Every year about this time I start looking at the weather patterns and long range forecasts to get an idea of what winter will be like for us here in Central Ohio, and this winter could be an interesting one.

Last winter was one of the absolutely most boring we've seen around here in ages. In Circleville I recorded a paultry 6.5" of snow, with our biggest "storm" bringing nothing more than 2" of snow. I know other areas of Central Ohio may have seen more than I did, but that was the nature of last winter. Hit and miss. But mostly miss.

Columbus averages 27.7" of snow a year, and while I know my snowfall totals from Pickaway County will almost always be lower than what Franklin County gets, my numbers since I started keeping record have been below normal for every year except the 2009-2010 season when we had almost 25" in February:

Season snowfall totals since 2008

We've been on a sharp decline with totals every year since the '09-'10 season, but it's hard to imagine us going lower than last season, right? Right?!

Winter Outlook
The CPC put their winter climate outlook out a few weeks ago with less than confident predictions. El Nino is rather neutral right now, which means it could strengthen or weaken really at any time. For us in Central Ohio that could mean an absolutely impossible forecast.

CPC temperature outlook for December through February

CPC precipitation outlook for December through February

Equal chances? That's the ultimate shoulder shrug.

My Prediction
It's impossible to say where storms will hit, which is why I love winter forecasting. When you're thinking of snow totals you could go 95% of the winter with almost no snow, and then one or two massive storms can turn your totals around.

I personally feel like overall we're going to be a little below average on temperatures because of a persistant trough that should set up over the eastern US over December and January, bringing cold Canadian air far south in to the southeast.

Winter pattern for December and January.

So much is dependant on how strong this trough is, exactly where it sets up, and where it allows storms to path. Shown above I've illustrated where the three main types of storms should go.

First would be storms diving down from the Pacific Northwest, staying well west of us and heading around the base of the ridge in to the Gulf of Mexico. It could then make its way back around to the eastern side of the ridge given the strength.

The second type of storm, and usually most potent for us is the Gulf low that comes up through the southeast and rides up the Appalacians. Plenty of moisture and interracts with our arctic airmass.

Finally we see the Nor'Easters, which is exactly what the east coast could see later this week. These storms are unlikely to affect us much as a true Nor'Easter, but again given the position of the trough it too could move far enough west to bring us snow.

This is so hard to give a solid prediction on our snowfall totals because this year will be the most hit or miss winter we've seen in a long time. I feel like we're going to see a few storms drop many inches of snow just east of us. Eastern and Northeastern Ohio could truly have a massively snowy winter, and we'll be on the fringe.

Since winter started so early this year, and the threat of snow showers is already back in our forecast for later this week, I tend to believe this will be a very active winter. But does active mean heavy snow totals? Not always. We just may have more snow events.

So for this winter, I say we see 20" of snow in Canal Winchester. It would be the second largest snow total I've seen since record keeping, but shouldn't be so much that we're overwhelmed. Just a healthy winter.

Season Stats:
Winter Weather Advisories- 0
Winter Storm Warnings- 0
Ice Storm Warnings- 0
Blizzard Warnings- 0
Freezing Rain Advisories- 0
Winter Storm Watches- 0
Wind Chill Advisories- 0
Wind Chill Warnings- 0
Blowing Snow Advisory- 0

Snowfall Totals:
October: 0.1" (Predicted: 0.1")
November: 0" (Predicted: 0")
Season: 0.1"

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

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11:20 PM GMT on November 11, 2012
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About Buckey2745

I'm a 31 year old weather enthusiast from Central Ohio. Certified SKYWARN storm spotter.