2013-02-09 / Front Page

It’s Not Like Last Year

2011-2012 winter is a distant memory
By Scott Rawdon

Photos by Scott Rawdon Photos by Scott Rawdon LAKE AREA – For those who wished for a snowy winter this year, here it is. For those who hate snow, blame it on La Nina (or the lack thereof) and the jet stream. “Last winter was one of the mildest we’ve ever seen,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center in Washington DC. He said last year, the jet stream flowed north of us, meaning all that cold air stayed up around Canada while enjoyed a warm, tropical airflow.

Halper t said we also experienced “La Nina,” which according to the Climate Prediction Center, is the periodic cooling of ocean su r face temper at u res i n the central and east-central equatorial Pacific that occurs every 3 to 5 years or so. La Nina represents the cool phase of the El Nino/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle, and is sometimes referred to as a Pacific cold episode.

El Nino is the opposite—a periodic warming of areas of the Pacific. Halpert said last year La Nina contributed to our warmer winter. This year, there is neither La Nina nor El Nino and the jet stream is flowing where it usually does. “This year’s just been more normal,” he said.

Susan Buchanan, spokeswoman for the National Weather Service, said this season we had almost 15 inches of snow in December, 6.5 inches in January and, so far, four inches in February. Last winter, we had half an inch of snowfall in December, a surprising six-inch total in January, and 5.4 inches in February. Buchanan said the January snowfall figure was a total of many lighter dustings, which is why it doesn’t seem like we had that much. “I’m surprised to see those snow totals was well,” she said.

Halpert said for the rest of February, the weather will become slightly warmer, but he expects temperatures to plunge once again before March.

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