A Look Toward Winter Weather

Long-range forecasts show winter temperatures could be below averages

Nearly a year ago, the city of Columbia was greeted with one of the largest snowstorms in the town’s history – nearly 17 inches. Columbia ended up with around 30 inches of snow in total during the winter months, including some during the spring.

Tony Lupo, a University of Missouri professor of atmospheric sciences, said mid-Missourians shouldn’t see that much snow as the calendar turns to 2020, but there could definitely be a few snow days. Lupo said long-range forecasts also show winter temperatures could be a bit below averages.

“I was pretty happy with our 2018-19 winter weather long-range forecast,” Lupo said. “Our models were quite close in terms of the total amount of precipitation and the temperatures. Of course, there was a lot more snow than we anticipated, and that’s OK.

“Our 2019 summer predictions were pretty spot on as well. As we head into the winter, we’re predicting around 20 inches of snow and there’s some hinting that temperatures will be a little below normal.”

Columbia has already seen its first measurable snow, which came in late October. Lupo said it’s the first measurable October snow in the area in about 40 years. The snow came just a month after Columbia recorded the warmest September in 130 years.

“September was basically a summer month,” Lupo said. “We went from those summer temperatures to very cool temperatures in October without those nice fall-like days of around 70 degrees. We’ve been seeing periods where the jet stream is changing rapidly from one season to the next. The temperatures are actually close to normal – but it’s the worst kind of normal, in that it is pretty close to normal all of the time. We’re seeing drastic changes happen overnight.”

While Missouri is known for its wild weather swings throughout the year, Lupo said that the eastern two-thirds of the United States have also experienced drastic changes in weather patterns. It’s something that Lupo is researching. He is currently working on a paper looking at the northern hemisphere weather patterns from the 1930s to the later part of the century.

“We’re definitely not alone in the craziness,” Lupo said.

As the chance of snow and ice increases, Lupo said to make sure you’re prepared for possible bad road conditions. Blankets, a small shovel and extra phone chargers are all good items to have in your car.

“It’s always important to be prepared for the weather, especially in the winter,” Lupo said. “You never know when road conditions can worsen.”