La Niña winter: What does it mean for the QCA?

Published: Oct. 25, 2022 at 2:57 PM CDT
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QUAD CITIES, Iowa/Ill. (KWQC) - It’s only a matter of time before the bitter cold and snow return to the Quad Cities.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released its 2022-2023 winter outlook last week, and it’s calling for a La Niña winter for the third consecutive season.

What does that mean for the Quad Cities?

First we have to look at the weather pattern.

Normally, trade winds near the Equator blow east to west, pushing warm surface waters toward Asia.

During a La Niña pattern, the trade winds are stronger than normal, causing cooler temperatures to surface in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean, and that generally leads to wetter and colder winters in the northwestern US, and drier and warmer conditions to the southeast.

The three month outlook for December, January and February is calling for a good probability of below normal temperatures for north central and northwestern portions of the united states, including most of Iowa and portions of northwestern Illinois.

Warmer than normal temperatures are expected in the southwestern UA, along with the Gulf coast and Atlantic coast. There are equal chances of above or below normal temperatures elsewhere.

In terms of precipitation, including rain *and* snow, much of the southern and southwestern states have a good probability of below normal precipitation.

The northwestern and great lakes region, including western Illinois and parts of eastern Iowa, have a good probability of above normal precipitation.

Let’s put this into perspective in the Quad Cities: Since 2000 there have been nine La Niña winters. Six of those nine years featured above normal snowfall.

The 30-year average seasonal snowfall in the Quad Cities is 36.1 inches.

Last season there was only 21.8 inches, but the La Niña year before that, there were more than 43 inches.