Weather experts predict winter similar to last year

Camille Berko, Reporter

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Chief meteorologist of WOOD-TV 8, Bill Steffen, vividly remembers one particular winter over others, the winter of 1982-83. In Grand Rapids on Christmas day that year, the temperatures spiked to a maximum of 65 degrees.

“I remember picking a dandelion in my front yard that year. That was one of the warmest winters,” Steffen said. 

He noted, however, that while it was nice, the coming winter isn’t likely to show many similarities to that memorable year. 

“It won’t be as warm as that year, but it won’t be anywhere near as cold as the winter of 2014-15 when we had the coldest February ever,” Steffen said.

The winter of 2019-20 has already shown signs of a classic winter, consistently chilly temperatures and lots of snow, which leads meteorologists to believe their predictions of an above-average intensity winter will prove pretty accurate.

On top of this, WOOD-TV 8 meteorologist Ellen Bacca stated that seasonal predictions are normally about 60% accurate.

“Technology has gotten better and better, ” Bacca said. “They’re really good (the predictions), considering we’re predicting the future.”

According to Steffen, the coming winter will be slightly colder and slightly snowier than an average winter in Michigan.

“Last year we even had the snow into the second week of April and that could be the case this year as well,” Steffen said. 

He and Bacca predict it will be a lot like last year’s winter. This would include colder than average temperatures, heavy snowfall and the possibility of frequent snow days. Although it will come with periods of lulled activity, the coming months are anticipated to be a winter wonderland. 

Take, for example, a polar vortex. While noting that it’s unlikely, Steffen and Bacca claimed that a polar vortex is possible this winter. For those that remember it from last year, the storm brought sparkling snow and bitterly cold temperatures.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if we get another visit from the polar vortex this year,” Bacca said. “We’ll just have to wait and see.”

Because Michigan is closer to the equator than it is to the north pole it’s residents tend to see less extreme weather. However, with the winds blowing from the Northwest this year, that might change. 

“It might not be as extensive, but I wouldn’t be surprised if we get a couple of bouts of really cold, really snowy weather,” Bacca said. 

While great for winter sports and snowball fights, some might find this weather to be an awful experience. 

Whatever your opinion, however, it ultimately won’t matter because Michigan is in for one crazy winter. So prepare to once again be amazed by what mother nature has to offer. 

“There are a lot of factors that we look at to determine long-range weather,” Steffen said. “The overall pattern is the same as last years though so expect a lot of the same.”