Chesterton Tribune

Indiana may be in for tough winter

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INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — Indiana residents who slogged through last year’s icy, snowy winter may be in store for a repeat of that icy blast in the coming months if forecasters tracking global weather patterns are correct.

Associate state climatologist Ken Scheeringa said meteorologists expect the periodic cooling of the central Pacific Ocean that’s known as La Nina to return and bring another severe winter to Indiana and the rest of the Midwest.

Last year, La Nina combined with a warming of the ocean around Iceland and Greenland called the North Atlantic Oscillation to make Indiana’s winter particularly long and cold.

Scheeringa tells The Indianapolis Star that although it’s still unclear, it appears those two weather patterns may both occur again this winter, delivering an extra brutal winter blast.

“When they join forces, they make us very miserable,” said Scheeringa, who works with the Indiana State Climate Office.

He said the North Atlantic warming is hard to predict, but if it does return forecasters will see evidence of it in the next couple of months.

If so, he said Indiana residents would face an even more severe winter of biting cold, freezing rain, snow and perhaps even a blizzard like the one that hit central Indiana in February.

Michael Koch, a forecaster for the National Weather Service in Indianapolis, said he also sees the La Nina pattern playing a major role in the forecast for the state again this winter, driving storm systems — and above-normal precipitation — farther north into Indiana.

The La Nina weather pattern utilizes the jet stream to power north, he said.

Two winters ago, Indiana was affected by El Niño, in which the central Pacific Ocean warms at least 1 degree above normal. That brought the state a milder winter, as might be expected by that temperature fluctuation in the central area of the Pacific, he said.


Posted 9/29/2011