It’s been the sixth-coldest start to November since at least 1871. Is a bad winter in store?
It’s not your imagination. November has been cold — indeed the month has had its sixth-coldest start since 1871, when record-keeping began in Omaha.
The good news is that the cold weather is no indication of what winter might bring, said Cathy Zapotocny, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service.
The bad news is that the Huskers’ final home game looks brutal.
Zapotocny, her colleague Scott Dergan and AccuWeather’s Carl Erickson on Wednesday deconstructed the weather ahead: for the Huskers, for Thanksgiving and for the winter:
Another arctic front moves through Friday night, bringing with it stinging north winds and a chance for snow.
Temperatures for most of the day in Lincoln are forecast to be in the upper 20s, but winds are expected to gust to about 25 mph, which will make it feel like it’s in the midteens.
Dergan said some, but not all, of the ingredients are in place for a repeat of travel headaches of last week’s disruptive, fast-moving snow. Travelers from the Nebraska Panhandle probably will be driving through windy, snowy conditions Saturday. But between Omaha and Lincoln, snowfall is forecast to be light.
The type of snow squall that turned rush hour roads icy last Friday isn’t expected this weekend, he said. On the other hand, because the ground is warm and the air will be cold, any snow that does fall could melt and refreeze.
“We’ll have to watch out for that,” he said.
With the caveat that Thanksgiving is still a week away, travel conditions look pretty good, Erickson said. “It looks like a fairly quiet weather pattern through much of the U.S.,” he said. And while much of the nation looks quiet, some areas could see some precipitation.
The forecast will become clearer the closer the holiday gets.
In terms of temperature, the odds favor slightly warmer-than-normal conditions in Nebraska, according to the U.S. Climate Prediction Center.
The season could start off mild, reserving its harshest weather for later, Erickson said.
El Niño conditions are expected to influence winter. An El Niño stems from warmer-than-normal waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. The interaction between that water and the atmosphere historically has caused winters to be warmer and drier than normal across the northern U.S. and Canada, and warmer and stormier than normal across the southern U.S.
If an El Niño does define winter in Nebraska, then December is likely to be milder than normal, and relative to the usual temperatures, January into February would be colder than average. If the El Niño conditions push storms into the southern U.S., then Nebraska would see a drier-than-average winter.
A multitude of factors influence weather, so it’s possible that something entirely different will happen. Still, El Niño winters — and their opposite, La Niña winters — are one of those rare times that scientists have some luck at long-range seasonal forecasts.