By Grace Woodard, Aaron Dawes and Braydon Buzzard
Submitted by Prof. Steve Carano’s weather forecasting class
Be prepared to enjoy the holiday season with favorable winter weather conditions.
The 2022 Oklahoma winter will likely have above average temperatures with slightly above average snowfall amounts. These weather conditions will likely align with those of the past two winters. These conditions are influenced and controlled by various global factors including ocean currents and temperatures, wind patterns and solar radiation.
The wind patterns present describe the placement of the “rivers of air” above our heads, the subtropical and polar jet streams. Wherever the subtropical jet stream is positioned will bring in moisture for the specified area. The placement of the polar jet stream will bring dry conditions to the area affected. The behavior of ocean temperatures, or patterns, have three main categories: El Niño, La Niña and neutral.
El Niño patterns are defined by warmer temperatures causing cooler and wetter conditions in the southern United States and warm and dry conditions in the northern United States. La Niña is defined by colder temperatures creating warm and dry conditions in the southern United States and cold and wet conditions in the northern United States. “Neutral” means the weather pattern in place will reflect average conditions for most or all of the year. The combination of these factors can lead to a vastly different winter than the previous year.
Though 2020 was not in a La Niña pattern for the entire year, the United States is currently in a “triple dip” La Niña pattern for 2022, meaning La Niña has affected North America for three consecutive years. This means that the subtropical jet stream is bringing moisture and cold conditions in the northern United States, while the southern United States is being affected by the polar jet stream leading to dry and warm conditions. For Oklahoma, this means dry winter conditions but warmer winter temperatures.
Average temperatures, specifically for Oklahoma City, typically range from the high 30s to low 40s. From 2000-2021, the average snowfall for Oklahoma City was 8.1 inches and was the same for the La Niña years within the same timeframe. The average snowfall was higher when La Niña lasts all year as opposed to when it lasted only during the winter months. For example, the average snowfall from 2000-2021 was 11.4 inches when only looking at year-long La Niña patterns. This leads to the prediction that the winter of 2022, as this year has been a year-long La Niña pattern, will have slightly above average snowfalls.