DARKE COUNTY — Those dreaming of a “White Christmas” this week may have to put that dream on hold for a bit.
The Daily Advocate spoke with WDTN-TV Channel 2 Meteorologist Tara Hastings regarding the warmer-than-usual weather the area has seen so far this winter. According to Hastings, the warm-weather trend in the Miami Valley has been “the talk around town.”
“The jet stream, or our weather pattern, has been allowing for warmer temperatures to move farther north,” she said. “In the northwest part of the U.S., some areas are getting hammered with rain and snow due to a trough or dip in the jet stream. While the jet dips out west it creates a ridge in the eastern part of the country allowing us to experience warmer temperatures.”
The question now is, how long will this warmer weather last? Hastings says it could last a lot longer than usual.
She says, “I’ve been reading some research about this winter outlook and it appears this warmer trend may last the rest of the season. One of the main indicators that’s been getting a lot of attention lately is ‘El Nino.’ This is when the sea surface temperatures in the Eastern Pacific are warmer than normal. Warmer-than-normal ocean temperatures plays a role in our jet stream or storm track.”
“During an El Nino, the jet stream across the U.S. tends to keep this part of the country and Ohio a bit warmer and drier,” Hastings explains. “Although El Nino is just one piece of the puzzle, there are many others what we call ‘oscillations’ or ‘large-scale patterns’ which meteorologists/climatologists look at when trying to come up with seasonal forecasts. However, El Nino has been getting a lot more attention this year due to its strength. This particular El Nino is a little stronger than previous years.”
Are there advantages to warmer winter weather? Disadvantages? Hastings says “both.”
“I think there can be many advantages/disadvantages when it comes to a warm and dry winter,” says Hastings. “Advantages may include less accidents on the roadways, fewer injuries from people falling on ice, shoveling snow, etc.”
“Disadvantages could outweigh the advantages though — I just think of many people who rely on winter weather as their main source of income during these months. Ski hills, snow-removal companies, and so forth. Farmers may see an impact too. If we don’t get enough snow, that could create issues in the spring.”
Hastings says that El Nino is not a storm or anything for which people should feel the need to prepare.
“I’ve seen several news releases warning of the ‘big, bad, El Nino,‘“she says. “It’s just one piece to the puzzle we look at when trying to come up with a picture of the season.”
“So far, there have been two record high temperatures in December (at Dayton International Airport) and we may break another one [two days before Christmas].”
Hastings adds, “While many people are dreaming of a white Christmas, the Dayton area usually sees a ‘brown’ Christmas. Looking back at the records from 1893 until present, 90 percent of Christmas Days haven’t been ‘white.’ (A ‘white Christmas’ is defined as having an inch or more of snow on the ground).”