Despite this week’s balmy temperatures in the 70s and 80s, the official start of fall, on Sept. 23, has St. Louis wondering what winter will be like.
Jim Kramper, the warning coordination meteorologist for the National Weather Service, has said that the latest models predict a 65% chance of St. Louis being affected by El Nino conditions.
This could be good news for Midwesterners fearing a repeat of last year’s heavy snowfall and bitter cold.
The El Nino Southern Oscillation, associated with warm ocean temperatures off the Pacific Coast of South America and high air surface pressure in the Western Pacific, generally causes less snow and milder temperatures when it affects the Midwest during winter.
Split storm tracks caused by El Nino cause areas to the far north experience frigid temperatures, while the southern coasts (around Southern California and Florida) get more rain than they normally would.
Kramper, in addition to assuaging fears spurred on by an Internet satire piece that this winter is expected to be 50 times as bad as the last, cautioned that a cooler-than-average summer may not mean that the area is in for a colder-than-average winter.
He says he’s expecting the season to be neither overly warm nor overly cold.
Winter Preparations Continue
But St. Louis officials aren’t backing off preparations for winter.
The Missouri Department of Transportation announced Sept. 22 that it will be hiring seasonal workers and emergency snowplow operators in case heavy winter storms are too much for regular crews to manage.
St. Louis is known for its unpredictable weather patterns. Because the area is affected both by the jet stream blowing east to west and the gulf stream blowing up from the Gulf of Mexico, weather conditions can change rapidly in the region.
As a result, it’s a good idea for residents to prepare for winter by weatherproofing their homes and getting preventive furnace inspections to prevent an untimely loss of heating when the weather does turn cold.
“Its important for customers to get their furnace inspected,” says Jeff Vitt, Vice President of Vitt Heating & Air Conditioning. “A lot of people feel as though their furnace is working properly — until it doesn’t work at all. People should ensure their safety and their family’s safety this winter.”