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December 20, 2008

What does the winter have in store for the Valley? Meteorologist Julie Henricks offers up a look ahead

TERRE HAUTE — EDITOR’S NOTE: Will, as the popular song goes, the weather outside be frightful? The cold moved in well before today’s kickoff off of the winter season, and the Wabash Valley already has experienced several bouts of snow and ice during autumn’s waning days. Well-known local meteorologist Julie Henricks has written the following to help us understand our Midwest winters, and to give us some insight into what might lie ahead in the coming months. Maybe this winter won’t be so abominable after all …







When the change of a season occurs, there really is no fanfare. An alarm doesn’t ring, and there are no fireworks to brighten the sky. In most cases, the season’s arrival is less than impressive because we’ve already “felt” like it was under way. Today’s winter solstice is certainly proof of this.

The calendar shows that winter begins today. If you live in the Midwest, we all are clear on one thing: No calendar ever determines a season. Who reading this doesn’t think winter’s already here? Today will be the shortest day, or the longest night, depending on how you see it. This fact can’t be disputed. But the first day of winter, please.

Meteorological winter actually begins with the start of December and runs through the end of February. When true scholars of weather and climate talk about “winter,” it in encompasses the time from Dec. 1 to Feb. 28.

During this meteorological winter, you also will be made aware of “averages.” If you study or pay attention in any way to weather, you hear a lot about averages. Let me take a moment to make this clear. All the current averages you hear about are based on the years 1971 to 2000. Averages are calculated every 30 years. After 2010, the averages you have grown accustomed to will change. The new numbers will be based on the years 1981 to 2010. If you are thinking, “big deal, how much different can those averages be,” let me share some facts that will help you understand just how different the numbers will become. Ultimately, these facts will jog memories and help you understand this years’ long-range winter forecast.

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