There are a lot of Chicago words that can describe this year’s winter forecast, but “ice cold” just about sums it up.
According to the long-range weather prediction in the 2017 Farmers’ Almanac, the forecast for the upcoming winter season is “frigid.”
The Almanac, which bases its long-range forecasts on a nearly 200 century-old formula, predicts a colder-than-normal winter for two-thirds of the nation.
What’s being described as “exceptionally cold conditions” are expected in the Northern Plains, Great Lakes, Midwest, Ohio Valley, Middle Atlantic, Northeast, and New England states. The West could see milder than normal conditions, according to the Almanac.
“February is the month to really be ready for cold conditions,” Editor Peter Geiger, Philom, said in a statement. “According to our long-range outlook, many places will see downright frigid temperatures this month, some as low as 40 degrees below zero!”
The forecast also predicts snowfall that will “keep many skiers happy in the east.”
Meanwhile, the Old Farmer's Almanac, which claims an 80 percent accuracy in its predictions, says while temperatures will be colder in most parts of the country, less snowfall will be seen overall. The exception will be the northern tier of the U.S., which "can expect to be blanketed in white," according to the old almanac.
Last year, much of the Midwest saw a mild winter thanks in large part to a strong El Nino event.
The latest predictions, however, are somewhat in line with warnings of a possible La Nina event beginning this fall.
According to data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, there is a chance for a La Nina event to develop in the coming months, though researchers report “considerable uncertainty remains.” Many models favor a La Nina during the fall and winter, but forecasters predict it could be a weaker event.
La Nina is the opposite of El Nino and represents periods of below-average sea surface temperatures across the equatorial east and central Pacific Ocean.
If La Nina develops, it could mean changes in the weather for North America, though those changes will depend heavily on the strength of the weather event. According to the NOAA, winter temperatures are warmer than normal in the Southeast and cooler than normal in the Northwest during La Nina.
If a La Nina event is strong enough, it could also mean above-average precipitation in the northern Midwest, which by winter could mean more snow.
It’s not uncommon for La Nina conditions to follow an El Nino event. Both have the potential to last anywhere from nine to 12 months, but some prolonged events can last for years.