How Much Snow Could the Chicago Area See This Winter?

With the winter season almost here, the question looms - how much snow will the Chicago area have?

The last five years have seen dramatic shifts in terms of snow amounts in the Chicago area, from very little snow in 2012 to 84 inches in 2014. Last year, the area recorded 31 inches of snow, but the majority of that fell in the month of December and the rest of the winter remained largely dry.  

So, what about this year?

There is another La Nina set up for the U.S., meaning there will be periods of below-average sea surface temperatures in the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. This doesn’t necessarily paint an exact picture for the Chicago area, however, because it is only one of many elements in play and no La Nina winter is exactly the same. 

Still, early predictions indicate Chicago could see a wetter than average winter.

This doesn’t necessarily mean a lot of snow, because that precipitation could fall in the form of rain, snow, sleet or freezing rain. The temperatures have to be cold enough to see snow.

NOAA’s Temperature Outlook for the winter had no signals on whether the area would see above-average or below-average winter temps.  

Looking at the month of November so far, temperatures have been below average for the majority of the month.  

Typically, a pattern for the year sets up in late-October and early-November. There have been several shots of cold air this month, so this could mean that cold air will be around during a good portion of the winter.

That, combined with wetter than average precipitation, could amount to more snow.   

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