Snowy Octobers Often Tied to Warm Winters

Omaha has seen 12 Octobers with measurable snow since 1948 (13 now that it snowed in October of 2009!).  Of those years, the subsequent winter went on to be in the warmest third 5 times, the near-normal third 6 times, and the cold third just once.  Also, 6 of those 12 snowy Octobers were in El Niño winters, 4 were neutral, and 2 were La Niña.  The top 3 heaviest snows in October (1997, 1991, and 1980) were all associated with warm winters to follow; 2 of the 3 were during El Niño events, and the third was a neutral year that leaned warm (it had a few 3-month SST anomalies at 0.5 but not for long enough to be defined as an El Niño episode).  Omaha has never had a cold winter when there is an El Niño with October snowfall.

Take a look at the table for the information on each snowy October and its following winter.

Omaha

Rank for Oct snow

Amount

Year

ENSO phase

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar temps (warmest to coldest)

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar precip (most to least)

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar snow (most to least)

 

1

9.2

1997* (-98)

El Niño

17 (warm)

8 (wet)

Missing Data

 

2

5.7

1991 (-92)

El Niño

1 (warmest on record)

4 (wet)

60 (below normal)

 

3

5.2

1980 (-81)

Neutral

6 (warm)

59 (dry)

56 (below normal)

 

4

3.7

2009 (-10)

El Niño (?)

TBD!

TBD!

TBD!

 

5

3.5

1970 (-71)

La Niña

40 (near normal)

31 (near normal)

13 (above normal)

 

6

2.8

1996 (-97)

Neutral

37 (near normal)

54 (dry)

Missing Data

 

7

1.9

1979 (-80)

Neutral

36 (near normal)

45 (dry)

22 (near normal)

 

8

1.6

2002 (-03)

El Niño

23 (near normal)

56 (dry)

31 (near normal)

 

9

1.5

1967 (-68)

La Niña

19 (warm)

58 (dry)

55 (below normal)

 

10

1.4

1976 (-77)

El Niño

28 (near normal)

22 (near normal)

39 (near normal)

 

11

0.9

1981 (-82)

Neutral

57 (cold)

18 (wet)

37 (near normal)

 

12

0.8

1982 (-83)

El Niño

14 (warm)

2 (wet)

9 (above normal)

 

13

0.4

1987 (-88)

El Niño

26 (near normal)

60 (dry)

57 (below normal)

 

*Note:  October 1997 snowfall data is unofficial

       

 

The story also follows for Lincoln and Norfolk (see tables below).  Each of these sites has had just one cold winter that followed a snowy October during an El Niño.  Like Omaha, more of the snowy Octobers occurred in El Niño years than either neutral or La Niña years.  Few of the subsequent winters were colder than normal, and many were warmer than normal.

 

Lincoln

Rank for Oct snow

Amount

Year

ENSO phase

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar temps (warmest to coldest)

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar precip (most to least)

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar snow (most to least)

 

1

13.2

1997 (-98)

El Niño

24 (near normal)

16 (wet)

11 (above normal)

 

2

6.6

1970 (-71)

La Niña

38 (near normal)

17 (wet)

3 (above normal)

 

3

3.3

1980 (-81)

Neutral

4 (warm)

42 (dry)

56 (below normal)

 

4

2.5

2002 (-03)

El Niño

27 (near normal)

47 (dry)

28 (near normal)

 

5

2.3

1991 (-92)

El Niño

1 (warmest)

7 (wet)

60 (below normal)

 

6

1.2

2009 (-10)

El Niño (?)

TBD!

TBD!

TBD!

 

7

1.0

1996 (-97)

Neutral

36 (near normal)

57 (dry)

Missing Data

 

8

0.4

1979 (-80)

Neutral

41 (near normal)

34 (near normal)

30 (near normal)

 

8

0.4

1976 (-77)

El Niño

43 (cold)

29 (near normal)

40 (near normal)

 

10

0.3

1987 (-88)

El Niño

28 (near normal)

59 (dry)

59 (below normal)

 

Norfolk

Rank for Oct snow

Amount

Year

ENSO phase

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar temps (warmest to coldest)

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar precip (most to least)

Rank for Dec-Jan-Feb-Mar snow (most to least)

 

1

6.5

1991 (-92)

El Niño

1 (warmest)

10 (wet)

61 (lowest)

 

2

3.8

2002 (-03)

El Niño

9 (warm)

56 (dry)

45 (below)

 

3

3.1

1982 (-83)

El Niño

9 (warm)

4 (wet)

7 (above)

 

4

2.9

1997 (-98)

El Niño

12 (warm)

32 (near normal)

43 (below)

 

5

2.3

1980 (-81)

Neutral

7 (warm)

31 (near normal)

60 (below)

 

6

1.6

1976 (-77)

El Niño

28 (near normal)

14 (wet)

33 (near)

 

6

1.6

1966 (-67)

Neutral

24 (near normal)

61 (driest)

55 (below)

 

8

1.4

1969 (-70)

El Niño

48 (cold)

37 (near normal)

12 (above)

 

9

1.3

1970 (-71)

La Niña

41 (near normal)

18 (wet)

51 (below)

 

10

1.2

1986 (-87)

El Niño

2 (warm)

1 (wettest)

49 (below)

 

11

1.1

1995 (-96)

La Niña

38 (near normal)

53 (dry)

20 (above)

 

12

1.0

2009 (-10)

El Niño (?)

TBD!

TBD!

TBD!

 

13

0.5

1981 (-82)

Neutral

53 (cold)

16 (wet)

10 (above)

 

13

0.5

1967 (-68)

La Niña

23 (near normal)

58 (dry)

59 (below)

 

13

0.5

1955 (-56)

La Niña

54 (cold)

51 (dry)

18 (above)

 

16

0.4

1990 (-91)

Neutral

18 (warm)

25 (near normal)

23 (near)

 

16

0.4

1984 (-85)

La Niña

28 (near normal)

36 (near normal)

49 (below)

 

18

0.1

1979 (-80)

Neutral

24 (near normal)

48 (dry)

54 (below)

 



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