Forecasters: Indiana winter to be worse than last year

Meteorologists expect near-normal snowfall

INDIANAPOLIS - Just 8.9 inches of snow fell in Indianapolis last winter, but all indications are that there will be significantly more snow this season.

The winter weather outlook is coming into clearer focus as the days tick down to the end of the year.

Early predictions from several sources have been calling for both temperatures and precipitation to be near normal.

Forecasters at the National Weather Service in Indianapolis are on board with those early predictions.

In a typical season, Indianapolis receives 26 inches of snow, and if the pattern so far this year holds true, snow could be falling in central Indiana sooner than later.

"It seems like we have been ahead a month all year. We had extremely warm weather in March, got hot early, and we have fallen back colder faster in the fall," said Mike Ryan, a meteorologist the NWS office in Indianapolis.

Hoosiers hardly needed a shovel for the paltry amount of snow that fell last winter, but some sledding and shoveling is likely this year.

"I think the snowfall potential is going to more typical of what we would see in central Indiana, somewhere in the 20- to 25-inch range," Ryan said.

In a normal winter, Indiana gets about 26 inches of snow, so the prediction of about two feet of snow for the season would still be a little below average.

Forecasters think weather patterns in the northern latitudes will determine the severity of Indiana's winter.

"We have noticed a blocking high-pressure ridge over Greenland. If that stays in position for extended periods of time over the winter, that would tend to focus that trough of low-pressure sitting over the eastern part of the country," Ryan said. "(That) would open us up to greater potential for cold outbreaks and, as I said, the potential for more snow."

Winter forecast big business for some

While many focus on the long-range winter forecast out of curiosity of what's to come, the forecast is vital for some businesses.

ACES Power Marketing has 19 power supply cooperatives across the U.S. relying on them for accurate seasonal weather outlooks to help keep prices down for consumers.

"We look at long-term, intermediate, short-term forecasts to help our owners who are in the electricity business deal with forecasts and deal with planning around the weather," said Michael Steffes, the company's senior vice president and chief operating officer.

With so much invested in the winter forecast, ACES expects this winter season to be close to normal.

"We will see more normal prices, stable but seasonal. We will see some spiking during the coldest days," Steffes said. "You prepare for the worst and hope for the best."

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