Predicting winter in Chicago can be tricky, but three recent forecasts for the area all seem to hit the same thing.
If their predictions come true, the next few months will be snowy in the Chicago area.
While most meteorologists caution against outlandish predictions, citing a variety of factors that could dramatically alter the outcome of a season, recent outlooks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Farmer’s Almanac and Old Farmer’s Almanac seem agree that a wetter than- normal, and perhaps even snowier than normal, winter might be in store.
But they don’t all agree on everything.
Here is a breakdown of the winter forecast for the Chicago area so far:
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said winter is likely to be wet in parts of the Midwest between December and February.
According to NOAA’s U.S. winter outlook released Thursday, “wetter than average” conditions are predicted for the Great Lakes region, thanks to La Niña – a weather pattern that occurs in the Pacific Ocean guided by winds at the surface of the ocean.
“In the winter of a La Niña year, these winds are much stronger than usual,” NOAA says. “This makes water in the Pacific Ocean near the equator colder by a few degrees than it usually is. Even this small change in ocean temperature can affect weather around the world.”
And while in the southern part of the United States, the third consecutive return of La Niña brings drier than average conditions, for the Ohio Valley, the Great Lakes, the northern Rockies and the northwest of the Pacific, it should bring more precipitation.
And if the temperatures are cold enough, that means more snow.
So what are the predicted winter temperatures? According to NOAA, the Midwest will likely experience a fairly typical season.
In other words: not exceptionally hot and not exceptionally cold.
From December 2022 to February 2023, temperatures in the Chicago area and much of Illinois are forecast to be neither warmer than average nor colder than average.
The western part of the state, however, could experience colder days.
“Below normal temperatures are favored from the Pacific Northwest eastward to the western Great Lakes and the Alaska panhandle,” NOAA says.
Old Farmer’s Almanac
The Old Farmer’s Almanac, in its extended forecast for the coming winter season, called for a “tale of two winters” that will split the country in two. And the Chicago area is only one side of that story.
According to this year’s forecast, the Chicago area falls into the “freezing cold and heavy snow” category.
Parts of the upper Midwest, including the Chicago area and northwest Indiana, will potentially experience “unreasonably cold and snowy” conditions this winter, the almanac predicts.
“Winter for much of the Midwest and along the East Coast is best described as ‘chilling and snowy,’ the prediction reads. “The eastern half of the United States should brace for potentially record-breaking cold to set the season.”
For the Chicago area, also known as the “Lower Lakes” region in the Almanac – which encompasses parts of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan, Indiana, Ohio and even around the east coast – the coldest temperatures are expected between early December and late January to mid-February, with the snowiest periods between late November and early December and early to mid-January.
The Farmer’s Almanac also calls for an unreasonably cold and snowy winter in Illinois.
“The big takeaway from our forecast for the winter season is that freezing temperatures are set to pour in to many parts of the country, especially the north-central region, where readers are sure to shiver and shiver!” the almanac states, adding that “winter will be unreasonably cold for readers in the Great Lakes region, especially in January”.
In addition to freezing temperatures, the almanac predicts that the Great Lakes region will see “more precipitation falling as snow.”
“Snow lovers will be happy in the north central states as they will see a fair share of storms during the winter season, which should mean plenty of snow for winter goers (maybe even in time for a White Christmas?),” predicts the almanac.