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Winter weather predictions for northwest Iowa

We all want to know what’s going to happen each winter, and it’s always a topic of conversation as fall crawls toward its colder companion season.

So what are the professionals actually saying?

Temperatures

In general, without an El Nino or La Nina weather pattern, it looks to be a moderate winter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration predicts that nowhere in the U.S. will have below-average temperatures, but Iowa and the upper Midwest should be about normal.

This 2019-20 Winter Outlook map for temperature shows warmer-than-average temperatures are likely for much of the U.S. this winter.However, the Farmers’ Alamanac doesn’t agree with NOAA’s temperature predictions for Iowa. It says only the western third of the county will have warmer than average temperatures and that Iowa and the rest of the Midwest are in for a frigid and snowy winter.

The Climate Prediction Center for the National Weather Service has a map closely resembling NOAA’s temperature predictions, however, western and northwest Iowa fall into the slightly above average temperature category.

Precipitation

Arctic Oscillations may make for turbulent short-term bursts of temperatures and precipitation in both high and low directions, but in general NOAA is predicting that northwest Iowa is going to see a wetter than average winter. The Farmers’ Almanac is also predicting more precipitation for Iowa and the Midwest. The Climate Prediction Center agrees, but it puts Iowa as just slightly above average.

This 2019-20 Winter Outlook map for precipitation shows wetter-than-average weather is most likely across the northern tier of the U.S. this coming winter.

 

I just sigh when I read the Farmers’ Almanac says below normal temperatures, NOAA says average and the Climate Prediction Center says we’ll have slightly above average. So pretty much they have no idea what’s going to happen, is that what they’re telling me?

It always makes me wonder, why is it so hard to predict the weather?

It is a huge topic, but to boil it down,, basically, weather data is being collected all around the world and is processed by supercomputers. However, calculations are constantly changing because of variables such as how the sun heat’s the Earth’s surface, air pressure changes as ice melts and water evaporates and even the effect of the Earth’s rotation.

An article from How Stuff Works talks about a meteorologist named Edward Lorenz who equated meteorology to the butterfly effect — the theory that if a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, it will drastically change something thousands of miles away. Because conditions change so constantly, Lorenz set the limit for accurate weather predicting at two weeks.

The ever-changing conditions make weather in the near future difficult for meteorologists, even with radar, but to predict the next three months or more is even more impossible a feat.

However, the Farmers’ Alamanac looks farther ahead than most, and it is already predicting a late spring. So stay positive about winter, because it may be here for a while.

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