This winter is expected to be an El Niño year, but that term can be confusing.
The meteorological term "El Niño" means the temperatures of the water in the eastern pacific near the equator are warmer than average, and that has an effect on the overall weather pattern globally. For us, that usually means a milder winter with above average temperatures.
The National Weather Service in La Crosse wants to remind you that this is Wisconsin, and El Niño doesn't mean that winter won't come at all.
NWS La Crosse Meteorologist in Charge Glenn Lussky says winter storms are still likely to happen from time to time as they usually do. "Even if we are warmer than normal, we could very well still have a significant event. Look at just last week with that storm that went just to our south here in La Crosse, had over a foot of snow in some locations. That kind of storm certainly is possible throughout the winter season here."
Lussky says that you still need to be prepared for winter weather despite the favorable odds for a slightly warmer winter overall. "Whether it's warmer than normal over the course of that three month period, December through February, we will have cold episodes in there, people need to be prepared for that, whether it be very cold temperatures, whether it be a significant snowfall."
He says the odds for warmer temperatures are just that: a probability. A warmer than average winter likely means temperatures, when averaged over the entire winter, would be only a few degrees warmer than normal.