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Upcoming winter to be unusual, rainy

Well into the traditionally colder months of the year in central Ohio there has yet to be any substantial snowfall in the Columbus area.

There is a consensus among experts that the upcoming winter in Ohio could be something out of the ordinary.

Jeff Rogers, a professor of geography at Ohio State and state climatologist, said central Ohioans should expect an unusually rainy winter.

While Rogers expects it to be rainy, that does not mean that there will be no snowfall.

Rogers still expects a normal amount of snowfall, probably around 20 inches, he said. And the temperature, he said, could be slightly above average.

The area that falls under this prediction includes western Kentucky, most of Indiana, Ohio and southern Illinois, Rogers said.

Alex Rector, a first-year in biochemistry, still expects winter to be winter.

“I expect it to be cold and for it to snow,” Rector said.

Even though Rogers expects the temperature to be above average, one of his colleagues warns against the implication of this prediction.

Jason Box, associate professor of geography, had similar conclusions about what he expects for winter weather.

However, he remains cautious that temperatures won’t always be above average.

“That being said, we should always be prepared for cold air outbreaks,” Box said.

Box cited the National Weather Service’s climate prediction center data that predicts a wetter, but not colder winter.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac also predicts both above average temperatures and precipitation for the Ohio valley region.

The expected wetter winter can be attributed to La Nina in the equatorial Pacific, Rogers said. When this happens, generally there is more rain and less snow he said.

La Nina is a weather phenomenon that occurs every four to six years. It also occurred last year, which is highly unusual he said.

La Nina is thought to be caused by tropical winds in the southern hemisphere that strengthen and push cold water from the Arctic up to the equator he said.

Rogers said his expectation for this winter was supposed to happen last year. Instead, last winter ended up being very cold and snowy.

The idea that this winter will be unusual comes from La Nina being supplanted by a cold circulation pattern over Canada and the Arctic Rogers said.

Because of this circulation pattern people are contemplating what happened last year, happening this year he said.

Experts are willing to write off one year in which what was expected to happen didn’t Rogers said.

The last two years are different because the cold pattern setup could be caused by the ice in the Arctic Ocean melting, he said.

Rogers said that global climate change could be the reason behind La Nina occurring two consecutive years.

“If it happens again (this year) we’ll wonder if it isn’t global climate change,” he said. “It will ruin statistics.”

“Some scientists think that the retreating ice cover in the Arctic Ocean during fall, partly due to global climate change, can lead to cold winters in this area,” said David Bromwich, a professor in atmospheric sciences.

Bromwich said that scientists do acknowledge that the winter impact of reduced Arctic sea ice changes from year to year because of many other climatic conditions.

Associate professor of geography, Bryan Mark, said it is difficult to associate short-term phenomenon with long-term patterns.

Mark said there is not enough evidence to associate these weather patterns with the effects of global climate change.

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