Colder, snowier winter likely

Published: Monday, October 17, 2016 @ 6:14 PM
Updated: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 @ 8:45 AM

Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell says La Nina will likely impact our weather pattern as we head into the coming winter. This will likely mean a colder, snowier winter than last year.

It may be hard to believe it with today’s weather, but we are only about 63 days away from the official start of winter.

Temperatures to start this week have been nearing 20 degrees above normal. In fact, it is quite rare for us to see temperatures in the 80s this late in the season. The latest date on record to hit 85 degrees or higher in Dayton was on Oct. 21, 1953. While it doesn’t look like we will break that record this year, our monthly average temperatures have been above normal for the last 5 months with one of the most humid summers on record.

As many of you know, we had forecast a warmer than average summer thanks to the development of a strong El Nino pattern. El Nino is a weather pattern that is associated with a band of warm ocean water that develops in the central and east-central equatorial Pacific. But by late summer, the El Nino pattern ended with ocean waters cooling in this region. While this hasn’t meant much change in our weather pattern as of yet, it appears the development of La Nino, or cooler than average ocean water in the equatorial Pacific, could begin to show its influence in the coming months.

Computer model simulations that forecasters have been watching indicated a strong La Nina could develop by this winter. However, those models now have had some varying results making the forecast for the coming winter a bit trickier. So what do we know about the coming winter?

First, we will no longer have the influence of El Nino which kept temperatures above normal and snowfall below normal last winter. If La Nina does indeed develop, then it is likely after our currently dry fall, moisture may become more abundant as we head into winter. This could mean increases in either rainfall or snowfall compared to last winter.

Another area we will be watching closely is actually the ocean water temperatures off the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Currently, this area is seeing much warmer than average water temperatures. If this were to continue into the winter, this can force a stronger ridge in the jet stream across the western U.S. into western Canada. This ridge would translate into a trough, or depression in the jet stream across the eastern United States. This type of jet stream flow would likely lead to a colder, unsettled pattern for the Great Lakes and Ohio Valley.

Lake effect snow may also be more of a problem, especially the first half of the winter. The waters of the Great Lakes are quite warm after such a warm summer and fall. Depending on wind flow, this could increase our wintry weather.

The bottom line is that this winter will most certainly be more typical Ohio winter than what we saw last year. That means we can expect more snow and more cold. How bad this coming winter will be may be more of a matter of perspective than that of reality. While this past winter wasn’t too bad, many still haven’t forgotten the “polar vortex” winters of 2014 and 2015.

Eric Elwell is WHIO StormCenter 7 Chief Meteorologist. Contact him at eric.elwell@coxinc.com or follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

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What is freezing rain and how is it different from snow and sleet?

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 2:31 PM

What is the difference between rain, freezing rain, sleet and snow? Meteorologist McCall Vrydaghs has the answers.

During the winter months you may often hear about snow, sleet and freezing rain. 

Each has its own hazards, but freezing rain can create hidden dangers on the roads, more than the others. Unlike snow or sleet on pavement, freezing rain can appear wet, but is actually a sheet of ice and will leave no traction for drivers.

WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

Freezing rain forms in the clouds just like snow, but it’s what happens after the snowflake leaves the cloud that changes everything. During a freezing rain event the air within the cloud is cold enough to produce a snowflake. 

If the snowflake falls into air below the cloud that is above freezing, it will melt into a raindrop. This droplet will continue to fall as rain as long as the environment remains above 32 degrees. 

WHIO Weather App

Since cold air is more dense than warm air, sometimes a thin layer of subfreezing air may settle to the surface cooling the ground. If this occurs, once the droplet hits anything that is below 32 degrees it will freeze on contact. Typically, elevated objects such as trees, overpasses and power lines are the first to accumulate ice. If freezing rain continues for an extended period of time, ice may become so thick that numerous accidents and power outages may occur.

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St. Patrick’s Day: Freezing rain could impact celebration

Published: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 6:53 AM
Updated: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 1:27 PM

Meteorologist Kirstie Zontini breaks down the next system that can impact your St. Patty's Day.

A storm system will approach the Miami Valley just in time for St. Patrick's Day, said Storm Center 7 Meteorologist Brett Collar. Early Saturday morning the system will bring freezing rain and possible ice acccumulation. 

Slick roads and icy sidewalks could be an issue beginning at 4am Saturday, and last through noon. 

>> WHIO Doppler 7 Interactive Radar

  • Back roads and sidewalks may be untreated
  • Be aware of slippery surfaces if starting your party early
  • Winter Weather Advisory early Saturday so wear an extra layer for outdoor festivities. 


Prior to sunrise Saturday, freezing rain is set to move in from the west. This will become more widespread around sunrise and that’s when ice accumulation will start to become a big issue. This will continue through the morning hours but by 10am or 11am, we should start to see a transition over to rain as temperatures climb above freezing. Untreated surfaces however are likely to still be icy through lunch time.

>> 5-Day Weather Forecast

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WPAFB Friday Weather: Blustery start; wintry mix to develop early Saturday

Published: Friday, March 16, 2018 @ 12:34 AM

WRIGHT PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE—Sunshine will start the day across the area but it will be a cold morning, according to Storm Center 7 Chief Meteorologist Eric Elwell.

RELATED: 5-Day Forecast

Temperatures will begin in the lower 20s by climb back into the lower 40s during the afternoon. Clouds will increase tonight as a storm system approaches from the southwest.

A wintry mix of freezing rain and sleet is expected to develop after 3 or 4 Saturday morning. This will lead to icy spots and perhaps a coating of ice on elevated surfaces to begin St. Patrick’s Day. Some snow may also mix in across the far northern Miami Valley.

RELATED: County-by-County Weather

As temperatures rebound from the 20s into the lower 40s in the afternoon, mainly rain showers are expected with improving travel conditions. Skies will clear Saturday night with sunshine and milder weather to end the weekend.

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 Three things to look forward to this spring

Published: Thursday, February 22, 2018 @ 12:25 PM
Updated: Thursday, March 15, 2018 @ 4:17 AM

Here are a few things to look forward to as we start a new season.

We are now less than a week from the astronomical start to spring. On March 20 the vernal equinox will take place, transitioning us to the new season. 

  • Daylight: The days will get longer. Daylight Saving Time helps increase the amount of daylight but naturally the days get longer during the transition from the winter solstice to the summer solstice. From Feb. 20 to March 20, we will see an increase of a little more than an hour of daylight.                                      Latest weather video: Watch our five day forecast
  • Low Snow: The chance for snow drops off. On average, the latest we see an inch of snow in Dayton is March 10. That doesn’t mean we won’t get snow in March, just statistically speaking it becomes less likely. There will be a greater chance though for spring storms as severe weather season kicks in.  
  • Warmer: It will gradually get warmer. The average afternoon by the first day of spring is 51 degrees. The angle of the sun and the length of day helps to increase our average high. 
  • Keep an eye on your daily forecast by using the WHIO weather App. 

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