Dig out those coats, scarves and gloves. Winter is almost here and the outlook is enough to send a shiver down your spine. Before we sound like alarmists though, remember our prediction for a colder, snowier winter is in relation to last winter. The winter season of 2011-2012 was one of the mildest winters we've seen with only 1.7" of snow. So, in essence, it would be hard to NOT be colder or snowier than a year ago.
So let's break down our winter outlook. We'll start with the folklore. Many people are big believers in the persimmon seed. If you cut it open, you'll find the seed shaped like a spoon, fork or knife. These "utensils" are meant to show what Mother Nature will dish out this season. A spoon means a cold and wet winter. A fork means mild conditions. A knife represents bitter cold air that'll cut right through you. From our observations and other reports, it sounds like the spoon is most common. That would mean a cold, snowy winter lies ahead.
According to others, the wooly worm is another indicator of the upcoming season. A red and brown or black striped worm would mean a milder winter while a solid black or brown-colored worm would mean colder weather. The reports are few, but it sounds like the all-black worm is most prevalent.
The Farmer's Almanac is a little more in the science realm, and it is predicting a cold, snowy winter as well for Oklahoma. The official NOAA winter outlook calls for a wetter-than-normal winter, but with slightly warmer-than-average temperatures.
So what do we think? As I mentioned, it's almost a sure bet that we are colder and wetter than last winter. La Niña was a big factor for the previous two years. This year, both La Niña and El Niño appear to be holding off. Without those two associated patterns in place, we expect this winter will be closer to average. Near-normal temperatures are expected with a few cold snaps. A few of those may be especially frigid. An already expansive snowpack up north is an early indication of this. As far as precipitation is concerned, we think we'll be close to Tulsa's average snow amount of 9.7". 2 to 4 snow events will likely add up to 8-12" for the season with 1 or more ice events.
The script for our winter story is still unwritten, but initial indications would say that snow-lovers have more to look forward to this winter. Just don't expect another repeat of the 2011 "Snowmageddon!"