Winter has arrived on campus and the first snowfall is on the ground. With icy winds and single digit temperatures, it’s usually easy for experts to predict winter conditions, but not this year.
“We have an equal chance of above or below normal temperatures this year,” said State Climatologist Harry Hillaker. “If you read between the lines, however, it seems we may have below normal temperatures.”
According to Hillaker, the precipitation will probably stay south of Iowa, or at least Sioux County, but this year marks an odd year where winter predictions are difficult to make.
Experts predict weather by looking at the Pacific Ocean and tropical regions and comparing two major currents: El Nino and La Nina. El Nino is a warm ocean current that flows along the equator from the date line and south off the coast of Ecuador at Christmas time. La Nina is the same as El Nino, except instead of a warm current, it’s much colder.
If El Nino is more dominant, warmer weather is expected. If La Nina is more dominant, colder weather is expected. According to Hillaker, the currents are usually predictable at this point, but about once every three years, it’s difficult to tell which one will become dominant.
“The outlook won’t be clearer as time goes on, but historically the weather leans toward La Nina,” Hillaker said. “But that’s not much to go on.”
But no matter what this winter holds, it’s imperative to be prepared for any type of condition. The Iowa Department of Transportation has a few winter tips in order to stay safe for the coming season: Make sure your vehicle is in good operating condition for winter time driving, take time to find out about the weather and road conditions, use good driving skills to avoid losing control of your vehicle, and operate safely around snow removal equipment.
They also suggest keeping a sleeping bag, a first-aid kit, bottles of water, and extra clothes in your car, as well as making sure you have plenty of fuel at all times. This is especially important for Dordt students traveling home for winter break.
Adam McDonald, Co-editor