Now that you have the example of how the two affect our fall and winter, let’s see where the fall and winter of 2016-2017 will take us. By looking at years similar to this, we could stop and say warm early followed by cool late with possible snow. However, that’s not fair and a very inaccurate forecast. First we will look at the fall coming up. Most of us are ready to get rid of this summer heat.
Below are the graphs to show you what we are referring to. Example last year was a 3.5 El Nino so we had tornadoes in late December. That's pretty extreme weather & that occurred right at the end of calendar fall (Dec 20). It will be cooler this fall than last year in most areas except extreme southwest Arkansas. We are in a transition area where we have multiple scenarios that could play out throughout the fall. Severe weather wise there could be some strong storm systems particularly around early October to mid-November as we transition to winter.
September will be the warmest month with above average temperatures for the majority of the month. September will see brief cool shots like the one to start the month followed by more substantial cool downs towards the end of the month as our average highs drop to near 80 degrees. September will be at or slightly below average in the precipitation department. One wrench in that idea is any tropical development that comes at us at any point in time, which will not be known until a few days before it occurs. Severe weather wise we should not see much more than we have seen already. Our secondary severe weather season begins around middle of the month, and we could see an active one later on.
October looks to be slightly at or above average temperatures. Remember that our average highs drop with each day so if we say above average then if its 75 degrees, that would be above average for Halloween. So we are not saying summer time heat will last but there could be days of above average temps throughout the month. October is normally one of the wetter months and this fall looks to be no exception with average to slightly above average rainfall. Severe Weather wise, we should see an uptick in severe weather chances towards the end of the month as we start to see the seasons rapidly change into winter. That’s not to say there will be a huge outbreak, but the threat will be there as the warm humid Gulf air and the Canadian air battle it out.
As we head into November, this is when we start talking about frost and freezes and of course Pumpkin Pie and Turkey. Generally, the first freeze will vary depending on what part of the state you live in. Northern half of the state should see their first freeze between Nov. 7-20th with the Southern half of Arkansas between November 15th to 25. Unlike last year, there will be more cold shots early on in the month giving us that shot at the first freeze earlier. November doesn’t see much snow, but it does see a lot of colder air compared too early on. November this year will be average to slightly below average in the temperature department, especially during the last half of the month. Don’t expect to see snow but the Ozarks could have a few close calls. November will be about average on precipitation to slightly below average as the storm track will favor a northerly track early on and later in the month. There will be several fronts move through, however with the separation of the Polar and Sub Tropical Jets, getting a ton of rain will be hard to come by. Severe weather threat potential will exist early on as the seasons continue the up and down trend, but with less forcing towards the middle of the month and cooler temps, any threat would be towards the Gulf Coast.
Fall is not known for snow in this part of the country but in 2013 snow fell around Thanksgiving and a lot during the first week of December. Many of us would like to know when that first snow potential may be? Last year Arkansas didn't see snow until late January and that was just a small section of the state. This year we believe there won’t be any snow until after meteorological fall has ended. Obviously no one knows exactly when that first snow will fall, but around Dec 15 in North Arkansas give or take a few days is our forecast. Not necessarily a “sticking” snow but flakes should be seen earlier this year. For Central and South Arkansas, it will be later as usual, but could be seen before the first of the year.
Winter 2015/2016 was one that melted a snow lovers heart. No snow, no ice and warm temperatures. There were flowers blooming January. We had one snow event and not many freezes. This year will not be one to write home about, however for snow lovers there is a much better chance than last year. This will be a hard winter to forecast because there are many different outcomes that can affect the overall forecast, however given the La Nina affect, this tends to favor us in terms of colder weather and active weather.
To have that wintry weather potential, there has to be moisture and storm systems in place. This winter will be very active in terms of an active storm track. Our best winter weather comes when systems pass to the south of the state. Remember in one of the weather videos earlier this month that we said that most people will more than likely enjoy this part? We are forecasting slightly above normal precipitation here in Arkansas. This includes all precipitation types, rain, snow, sleet, and even our worst nightmare ice. Typically, during Weak La Nina’s, we are trapped between the subtropical jet and the Arctic Jet stream so we see more wintry precipitation chances than we typically would in a Strong La Nina or even in EL Nino. We have highlighted the increased chance of ice across the Southern US due to the fact that in most cases we will see surface temps being cold enough but upper levels being very warm. Not saying that we won't see a significant snow event at times, just the chances of an ice storm are slightly higher this year.
December tends to be our month where we see cold fronts and warm fronts. Also its when most of us want to see cold air for the holidays. Well this December, we will not see it as warm as last year. This year we will see average to slightly below average temperatures across the state with the colder temps arriving before Christmas. Do not expect to see the 80s this year but we could see temps in the 50s which is average. December will be about the same for precipitation with average to slightly above average being seen. There will be arctic intrusions periodically seen throughout the month with the precipitation in place.
January will most likely be the coldest month of the winter. Normally we see colder air later in the winter. With the weak La Nina in place, we could see prolonged cold snaps. January will see average to below average temperatures with well below average possible at times especially across the north. Precipitation will be a little harder to come by to begin 2017 but not by much. We are forecasting an average to slightly above average month in the precipitation department. That being said, with cold air in place, this is the month to watch for ice, especially early on and towards the end of the month.
February is normally our coldest and most active month in terms of winter weather. We also saw our longest tornado track during this month as well. Looking at the weak La Nina we are in, it is looking like we could see an early severe threat or two towards the end of the month. February will see average to slightly above average temperatures, especially by the end of the month. There will still be arctic intrusions early on, but less frequent as we head deeper into the month. Precipitation chances will be like most of the winter average to slightly above. However, with warmer temperatures we may not see as many wintry weather chances as in previous years during this month. Early on will be the greatest wintry precipitation potential with rain and storms becoming more common by the end of the month.
Even though February ends Meteorological Winter, we do tend to see wintry weather in March, albeit rare compare to other months. There could be one in March but with a La Nina conditions ongoing, severe weather and spring like air will be more common. Overall, this looks to be a good year if you like winter weather in Arkansas and if you are tired of the heat and humidity. Holiday Season will feel more like it this year compared to last year and winter will bring an end to the pest problem we have had this summer. So hang tight our fellow Arkansans, cooler days are ahead. Remember that some things will change with the pattern changes and each week will be different. This is a forecast to guide you through and help you prepare for what lies ahead. Some of it may come true other parts may take longer but hey that’s Arkansas weather for you. We hope you enjoyed reading this as much as we loved putting time into writing it for you.
Founder/Senior Forecaster Derek Smith
Winter Weather Analyst/Asst. Senior Forecaster Cameron Barnes
Severe Weather Analyst Jason Len Gann