Updated: October 14, 2020 05:23 PM
Created: October 14, 2020 03:16 PM
(ABC 6 News) - Whether we want it to come or not, Winter is right around the corner. Southern Minnesota and northern Iowa are no strangers to all types of Winter but what do meteorologists look at before the first flakes fall to determine what the Winter will look like?
Meteorologists, on-air and behind the scenes, look at a multitude of factors beginning in the late Fall. Those factors include the sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific - whether or not the Pacific is trending neutral, towards El Nino or La Nina.
How the sea surface temperatures trend does impact weather here in southern Minnesota and northern Iowa; Todd Shea the Warning and Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in La Crosse says typically during La Nina, for example, southern Minnesota and northern Iowa tend to see cooler and drier Winters. Other larger weather phenomenons like the Arctic Oscillation also impact how Winters in our area look and how they are trending go into developing a Winter outlook.
On the smaller scale and in the more immediate future of a system incoming, Shea says meteorologists look at a variety of factors like moisture content, wind direction and speed along with temperature advection (transportation) and the temperature profile from the Earth's surface through the top of the atmosphere.
All of these factors help determine the path of the system, what temperatures the area will see, what type of precipitation will fall, and how much will accumulate.
"When you have your warmer temperatures, that tends to bring in more moisture too so we get those wet, heavy snows. If you will, the snow is closer to the freezing mark but it can hold more moisture. Typically, those are storm systems that come out of the southwest... maybe out of the Colorado, Kansas region up into our area," says Todd Shea the Warning and Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in La Crosse.
Todd Shea goes more in-depth with meteorologist Blaise Keller about Winter forecasting which will be aired to the ABC 6 Weather Spotters.
If you'd like to become an ABC 6 Weather Spotter so you can join in on this interview as well as be the "eye in the field" for the ABC 6 Meteorologists, you can sign up here.
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