Winter 2017-18: Potentially Active

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ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR) -- Winter may not be the biggest thing on our minds especially as of late with temperatures over the last few weeks averaging warmer than normal. NOAA, however, is gearing up for what could potentially be an active winter season ahead for the Stateline.

The latest forecast released on October 19th calls for a decent chance at seeing above normal precipitation this winter across the region. That doesn't necessarily mean we'll see above normal snowfall though, and here's why.

While we can generally forecast certain patterns well in advance with some accuracy, when it comes to individual storm tracks, meteorologists typically have the highest confidence no more than five to seven days into the future. There are several variables that we have to take into account when predicting snow vs. rain, including temperature patterns, tracks of low-pressure systems and moisture availability. All of these play an important role in depending who see's snow with each particular system.

A La Niña pattern will also play some influences on our upcoming winter season. Last winter a weak La Niña was noted, but what remains true about these types of phenomena is that no two events are ever the same. While we can pick out certain trends or features, we can never say "La Niña means we'll see x." One thing we do know is that an active jet stream will be nearby allowing several storms systems to roll through the region, which is why the above average precipitation forecast is in place for the upcoming winter.

This outlook is just one of the pieces of a major puzzle that we will continue to put together as trends regarding our temperature pattern emerge in the coming months. Stay tuned!