Winter Forecast 2020-2021

11/2/20 Winter Weather Outlook for 2020-2021
WAVE 3 Winter Slate
WAVE 3 Winter Slate (Source: wave3news)

It is that time of the year to take a look at the data for the upcoming winter season. As we know, long-term forecasting is full of challenges just due to the limits we have on long term data and an overall limited historical context. However, both data sets are improving each year. Even since 2000, long-term forecasting has improved significantly. Will it ever be perfect? No. The Chaos Theory will keep predictability a challenge... and that is still the case in even short-range events. To add to that math, the Ohio Valley is in one of the more challenging places on the planet when it comes to weather prediction.

But that all makes it fun, right?!

Nerdy talk aside, we do want to indeed have fun with the challenge of these predictions as winter is the one season that seems to get more attention than others when it comes to “Who’s going to get the big snow?” “Will we drop below zero?” or “Will be warm and sunny on Christmas Day?”

Most winters around here tend to be remembered by one or two events versus the weather during the entire season, like ’93-94 which featured the pre-season Halloween snow and major snowstorm in January ’94 along with our coldest temperature ever in Louisville at -22°! Other parts of the season actually featured some decent warm spells. There have been exceptions to this, such as the winters of ’76/77, ’77-78, ’88-89, ’13-14, ’14-15, etc. Those seasons stood out for their overall theme of extreme weather that lasted for weeks.

So how will this season look? We’ll start with something a bit different. This is a snapshot of the number of winter storms (defined roughly at 4″ + of snow and/or significant icing). The pattern looks active so it will be all about timing with any cold attacks.

Potential number of winter storms
Potential number of winter storms (Source: wave3news)

The temperature forecast is likely to trend warmer than average overall. There will likely be some decent cold/Arctic air attacks...but it is too early to know the staying power of such attacks. As of now, there looking to be lengthy periods of above normal temperatures for a good chunk of the lower 48.

WAVE 3 Winter Outlook Temperatures
WAVE 3 Winter Outlook Temperatures (Source: wave3news)

Rain is likely to rule as the main precipitation type this winter (as usually the case). There will be a risk for some big snow events given higher moisture levels likely in the air this season, but when you increase increase warmth. So it is a careful balancing game. We plan to go for at least a couple of winter storm events (generally defined at 4″ of snow or greater and/or significant icing). The next level up of frequency doesn’t look too far away to our west/northwest.

Here is our winter forecast for the Louisville area this winter season (which will include any pre/post season snowfall that can happen in November and March).

WAVE 3 Weather Winter Outlook
WAVE 3 Weather Winter Outlook (Source: wave3news)

Anything beats last winter in snow, right?!?!

And I mentioned fun earlier, so let’s have a little fun. Here is our take of when we expect the first 1″ of snow to fall at Louisville Muhammad Ali Airport. No one went “late” this year...hmmm.

WAVE 3 Weather Snow Guesses
WAVE 3 Weather Snow Guesses (Source: wave3news)

Look for the other blog post coming soon that will dive into more nuggets on this upcoming season, including some items to watch out for that could drastically impact this forecast.

SnowTALK Intro
SnowTALK Intro (Source: wave3news)

Bring On The Snow!


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