We've had a rather strange autumn thus far in Illinois, with abnormally large temperature changes from day to day, possibly as a side effect of climate change. Now that autumn is fading, what is expected for winter in Illinois this year?
La Niña is supposed to happen, and it is probably going to have an effect on the weather of the whole country. A very cold and wet winter is predicted for the northern part of the U.S., including, of course, Illinois.
La Niña is a weather phenomenon involving the Pacific Ocean dropping to a colder temperature than normal. Its counterpart is El Niño, which has the opposite effect, and warms the Pacific Ocean instead. El Niño is more common than La Niña, so more people have heard of it. La Niña's effects
on weather are also the opposite of El Niño's. This winter, it is likely that La Niña will heighten the levels of snow the northern and midwestern states receive, while worsening the current drought in the South. According to the National Weather Service
, La Niña will peak between November and January this year.
The amount of storms and precipitation has been increasing this year, probably due to climate change. Warmer ocean temperatures cause more water to evaporate, which causes more precipitation in general. Climate change also increases extreme weather in general, and this is why the Midwest has been seeing stronger storms and tornadoes in the past few years. In the winter, the increased extremities in weather are causing more and more snow to fall, as well as stronger storms and quite a few blizzards. Combined with La Niña's effects, it could be a very nasty winter ahead.
How to prepare for a strong winter
There are some precautions you can take in preparation for a winter like this.
It's a good idea to have a box of safety supplies in your car for when you go out in case you get stranded, such as extra water and food, tools to repair your car, blankets and extra clothes.
When you're outside in very cold temperatures, wearing a scarf or face protection is definitely the way to go, especially if you travel by bike. The cold combined with the wind can combine and cause more damage than you might realize at first, if you don't protect yourself.
It's also a good idea to keep your skin moisturized at home (your face especially), because the dry and cold winter air can cause chapping and skin damage.
Winter is most likely going to be difficult this year, but if you prepare well for it, you'll be much better off.