El Nino Pattern Starting to Impact Winter Weather

by Brian Wilson
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After three consecutive winters dominated by the La Nina weather pattern, we’re now a few weeks into an El Nino winter, which state climatologist Justin Glisan says could very well mean significant changes ahead for Iowa’s weather.

That falls in line with what happened in Iowa last month, as snowfall during December was far below normal in what’s usually the snowiest month of the year. Plus, Glisan says, December concluded nine-degrees warmer than average statewide. The last El Nino was in 2019 and Glisan says there’s a consistent pattern over the decades.

Iowa has been mired in drought for more than three-and-a-half years, and Glisan says we experienced what he calls a “snow drought” during December, while a shift could be coming in the weeks ahead.

From year to year, Glisan says the average temperature over 365 days usually doesn’t even vary by one degree, up or down, but 2023 ended more than two-degrees warmer than the norm in Iowa, putting it in the state’s top 20 warmest years on record.

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