(The Center Square) – For the first time in several years, Illinois will experience an El Niño winter.
An El Niño weather pattern, which occurs when ocean temperatures are warmer than normal, is expected to be strong this winter and last into early next spring.
Illinois Climatologist Trent Ford said if you follow the averages of an El Niño winter, Illinois should experience dryer and warmer conditions in the coming months.
“That is the average of all those El Niño winters, but we’ve had some El Niño winters that were much wetter and some that were much colder,” Ford said.
Ford said an El Niño winter is not all that common, with only about 15 to 20 occurrences since the 1950s.
On average, El Niño typically leads to a milder winter in the North, from the Pacific Northwest to the Midwest. The jet stream shift also brings weather and cooler weather to the South. This would be welcome news for states that have been experiencing drought, like Texas and Louisiana.
The last time Illinois experienced an El Niño winter five years ago, temperatures overall were above normal. But the last two days of January brought widespread cold weather to the state, with many locations experiencing the coldest weather that has been seen in decades with numerous record low temperatures broken.
A very strong El Niño during the 2015-2016 winter contributed to the warmest winter on record for the U.S. mainland. The country was not spared massive snow storms though, including a blizzard that brought the East Coast to a standstill.