COLUMBIA — For those who made it this deep into October without digging out that fall jacket or sweater, the patchy frost forecasted for Friday and Saturday mornings may be enough to spur even the strong of heart to prepare for the coming winter.
With the exception of the Eastern seaboard, the National Weather Service is forecasting above average temperatures for the eastern two-thirds of the country. In addition, despite a year that's on track to be the state's wettest on record, Missouri may be in store for below average snowfall this winter.
The Climate Prediction Center of the National Weather Service predicts a higher chance for above average temperatures in Missouri for December through February, with above average precipitation stretching into the southwest corner of the state.
Pat Guinan, MU climatologist, said Missouri's weather trends over the past two decades helped the Climate Prediction Center make its forecast. Of the past 20 winters in Missouri, Guinan said, only six have had below normal temperatures.
"It's likely we will experience some cold periods this winter, but the overall trend will lean to being above normal if we look at the three months as a whole," Guinan said.
Guinan also added that El Nino and La Nina cycling throughout the Pacific have reached a neutral condition and will not be affecting this winter's pattern as the ocean-atmosphere system has done in the past.
New to the mix this year is the substantial amount of rainfall Missouri has seen this year. Presently, the National Weather Service's Cooperative Observer Program — a network of about 200 weather institutions in Missouri alone — have data that put the entire state of Missouri on track to be the wettest ever since records began in 1895.
"If we receive normal precipitation from October to December, 2008 will be the wettest year on record," Guinan said.
Missouri's wet period began last December, Guinan said, and since then, eight of the 10 months have experienced above average rainfall. Parts of Missouri also made contact with the remnants of five named tropical storms this year.
But a year with a lot of rain doesn't necessarily mean Missouri will close out with a lot of snow.
Historically, a year with above normal precipitation has produced below normal snowfall the following winter.
In Columbia, seven of the top 10 wettest years on record yielded less snowfall than average. With eight of the 10 wettest years leading to drier winters, St. Louis weather has followed the same trend. The average temperature in the wettest years do not form a correlation.
"When you look at wet years, the weather that follows is less snow," said Scott Truett, senior forecaster at the National Weather Forecast office in St. Louis. "What occurs in one season is not a good indication of what will happen the next season."