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2021-2022 Winter Season Outlook | Here’s what La Niña Conditions means for Texoma

A typical La Niña winter in the U.S. brings cold and snow to the Northwest and unusually dry conditions to most of the southern tier of the U.S.
Published: Oct. 14, 2021 at 9:32 PM CDT
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LAWTON, Okla. (KSWO) -

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) announced back in October that La Niña pattern has returned. It’s expected to stick around in some capacity through the winter and relax toward spring. The La Niña climate pattern is a natural cycle marked by near-to-below average equatorial sea surface temperatures (SSTs) across most of the Pacific Ocean. It is one of the main drivers of weather in the United States and around the world, especially during the late fall, winter and early spring.

Historically, in December and January the average high temperatures in Lawton is in the mid 50s. In February, high temperatures are typically in the upper 50s. While, low temperatures start out in the upper 20s on average for December and January, and right at freezing for the month of February. As for total winter snowfall Lawton only receives 1.6′', with an average of nearly 0.50′' during each winter month.

30 year Average Temps and Precip - Lawton
30 year Average Temps and Precip - Lawton(KSWO)

After researching six previous La Niña winters (1998-1999, 1999-2000, 2007-2008, 2010-2011, 2017-2018, 2020-2021), statistics show a drier than average amount of snowfall compared to non-La Niña seasons. We excluded the winter storm of February 2021 because due to the abnormality of the event. High temperatures remain right about normal, but we tend to experience cooler nights during a La Niña phase.

Cooler Nights, Less Snow most La Niña Winter months
Cooler Nights, Less Snow most La Niña Winter months(KSWO)

We’ve come to the conclusion that most of Texoma will experience temperatures slightly above average, albeit still cold in nature. Snowfall totals will likely be below average for most of Texoma, with areas north and along I-40 possibly seeing near average precipitation. We still can’t rule out another unusual snow storm event or Arctic blast, as the last two La Niña winters in 2017-2018 and 2020-2021 had one move across the Southern Plains. This will be due to a weak polar vortex in place this winter, which could allow for cold arctic air to move far enough south into the southern plains.

winter snowfall forecast
winter snowfall forecast(KSWO)
winter weather index
winter weather index(KSWO)

This outlook is specifically for snowfall and based on snowfall averages. We expect below average precipitation overall, and most precipitation in Texoma in the form of a cold rain. Year-to-year, Texoma’s driest months are December-February. Shown below is break down of 20 La Niña winter months between 1949 and 2009. Precipitation trends drier in the month of December, very dry for January, and drier than average for February. The charts on the right highlight the mean temperature and precipitation for each winter month based off a 60 year average. The data does not include the last 3 La Niña winters.

70% chance of near normal or drier than average December
70% chance of near normal or drier than average December(KSWO)
Typically we see seasonal temps in December during La Nina
Typically we see seasonal temps in December during La Nina(KSWO)
La Nina January's tend to be even drier than December's
La Nina January's tend to be even drier than December's(KSWO)
55% chance of a near normal or cooler January
55% chance of a near normal or cooler January(KSWO)
70% probability of drier or near average precipitation for February
70% probability of drier or near average precipitation for February(KSWO)
60% chance of average or near normal for February
60% chance of average or near normal for February(KSWO)

The La Niña average temperature charts lean warmer in the month of December, but quickly trends cooler for the turn of the year. This is due to the repositioning of the jet stream moving further to the south throughout the winter. Meanwhile, the cooler, drier air is typically on the northern part of the polar jet stream. Plus, there is a 70% chance for precipitation to be either average or drier than average this winter.

Looking to be drier than normal in Texoma
Looking to be drier than normal in Texoma(KSWO)

As for the United States as a whole, we are anticipating the Southern United States to stay mild, with above average temperatures. The jet stream, although variable to the North or South over the course of the season, looks to enter the U.S. from Washington State and dip south, crossing the Colorado Rockies and into the Texas and Oklahoma Panhandles. It will stay zonal before exiting the Carolina’s. It’s interesting to note Oklahoma will be right on the cusp of the jet stream, which can make the winter months vary in terms of the temperature and precipitation. As a whole, we expect most of Oklahoma to be warmer and drier, with the panhandle and Northern Oklahoma seeing closer to average temperatures and snowfall.

la nina winter temperatures
la nina winter temperatures(KSWO)
la nina winter precipitation
la nina winter precipitation(KSWO)

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