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  • Writer's pictureTodd Yakoubian

Winter Outlook

"Are we going to have a cold and snowy winter, Todd?" I am asked that quite a bit this time of year and I wish I could give better answers. I can tell you that it will snow. It always snows in Arkansas each and every winter. Now, how much, when, and where is a different story. LOL

NOAA has released their winter outlook and released their winter forecast. Notice I use the words "outlook" and "forecast". They are two different things. NOAA breaks it down into above average, below average, and equal chances". Then they assign a percentage to it. Here is their winter outlook.

Let's break this down and we'll start with "Equal chances". Since this is a government agency and it's 2019, I would demand more for my tax dollars. This is their way of saying they do not have enough confidence to say what will happen. There's a lot of orange on that map. This means the strongest signal out of those 3 categories is above average. However, there's another way I look at it. See the light orange which covers most of Arkansas, except the far south? That's a 33 to 40% for above average temperatures. That also means there's a 60 to 67% chance for average to below average temperatures. IMO, I don't see why it's painted orange when the chances for something else are greater. It has been explained to me this way. If they had to choose only 1 of the 3 categories, this is the one with the highest chance of occurring. So now you see why it's an "outlook" and not a "forecast".

Now onto a forecast. Watch the video below. This is the winter FORECAST. They assign actual numbers to give you a better idea. Since we specialize in 10 day forecasts at Channel 7, I'll leave it to these meteorologists to predict the next 3-4 months. :)

Below are all the seasonal outlooks from NOAA since the winter 2010-2011 (left) and the actual results (right). Some have been pretty good and others not so good. That's the problem with these long range outlooks. It's tough! Remember, it only takes 1 big snow storm to change everyones perception of winter. December 2012 was very warm, but we had a blizzard in northeast Arkansas on Christmas day and more than 250,000 lost power.

WINTER 2010-2011

WINTER 2011-2012

WINTER 2012-2013

WINTER 2013-2014

WINTER 2014-2015

WINTER 2015-2016

WINTER 2016-2017

WINTER 2017-2018

WINTER 2018-2019

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