SHERIDAN — With snow in the forecast this week, it’s time for Sheridan residents to start readying their homes, gardens and selves for the winter season. But how cold and snowy are forecasters predicting the year will be?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which released its winter outlook in October, a wetter-than-average winter is expected for most of the northern U.S., including the northern Rockies.
Temperatures, according to NOAA, fall into the “equal chance” category, which means they have an equal chance of being average, above and below normal. NOAA forecasters said whether La Nina emerges will be the biggest wildcard in terms of this winter’s forecast.
“If La Nina conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Typical La Nina patterns during winter include above average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the northern tier of the U.S. and below normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South.”
Each year, The Old Farmer’s Almanac also releases its weather predictions. For the 2017-2018 forecast, Wyoming is split, right along the Bighorn Mountains. To the east of the mountains, a mild, wet winter is forecasted. On the west side of the mountains, the publication predicts a cold, snowy winter.
In the High Plains, which includes parts of Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas, The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the winter will be warmer than normal, with slightly above normal precipitation.
While it may seem difficult to predict weather that far out, the almanac indicates that for the 2016-2017 winter, its forecast had overall accuracy rate of 80.6 percent.
The Sheridan area has already seem some snow this week, but NOAA predicts more heading this way. Forecasters predict a chance of rain and snow showers Friday, then rain is snow is likely Saturday. According to NOAA, the Sheridan area could see 2-4 inches of snow Saturday into Saturday night.
Fun facts about snow
• All snowflakes have six sides.
• Snow crystals are translucent, not white. The white coloring is caused by sunlight that is
reflected off the crystals. All visible colors are reflected, which together, look white.
• A cubic foot of snow may contain between one and two million individual snowflakes.
• Most snowflakes fall at a speed of 2 to 5 feet per second, roughly the same speed as a person casually walking through a park.
• Snow or ice totals can vary greatly over short distances. A heavy snow band may form, dropping more
snow in one location while significantly less snow falls just a few miles away.