After a record warm December, colder weather returned to Ohio and surrounding areas for January with temperatures in January running just below normal.
The headlines surround a strong El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. This looks to be the strongest on near-term record. Most of the data suggests this El Nino is similar to the winters of 1957/58, 1982/83 and 1991/92 and like but with some differences to the 1997/98 winter.El Nino is only one of many things affecting the weather pattern but it has its strongest influence on our weather from January into March.
The big challenge for the upcoming planting and growing season is the rapid decline in El Nino (warming of the central and eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean) toward a possible La Nina (cooling). This rapid change could result in reduced forecast skill once it gets going this spring and summer.
Short-term into first half of February...
We expect a pattern change toward warmer and slightly wetter conditions into the first half of February. This will likely result in rain events versus snow events though some minor snows are possible.
Second half of February into March...
A warmer and drier than normal pattern is forecast across the area. There is some risk of normal precipitation though.
There is uncertainty in spring with transition away from El Nino. Most indications are for a bit warmer and drier than normal. If that transition does not happen as fast away from El Nino it could turn to a slightly wetter and cooler pattern so confidence is low past March. We should know more about this in the next 2-4 week.
You can keep up on all of this at the NOAA/NWS/Ohio River Forecast Center Seasonal Briefing Page at: http://w2.weather.gov/ohrfc/SeasonalBriefing