Peoria, Ill. (WMBD) — Let me preface this article by apologizing for not having my traditional winter weather outlook this year. We’re short staffed and I simply don’t have enough time in my day to do my daily tasks and sit down and take the deep dive required for me to get my outlook done. That said, there are a lot of things I know and have off the top of my head that can give you some insight as to what may be coming our way.

We’re a week into December and I’m already getting questions like, “I thought it was supposed to be a cold and snowy winter, where’s the cold…and snow?” Look, I get it. The first time temperatures drop a lot of winter lovers start looking forward to that first snowfall. As we get closer to Christmas and the decorations start going up, more and more people start looking for the snow.

Since I haven’t made a winter outlook, I assume a lot of folks are referring to the outlook from the Farmer’s Almanac that called for the overly vague and typical “Unreasonably Cold and Snowy” winter forecast for Central Illinois. Now, I’m not going to go off on the Farmer’s Almanac but I can assure you that at some point this winter it will be “unreasonably cold and snowy” somewhere in the state. It’s Illinois after all, winter happens here too. That said lets get back to the question at hand. Where’s the cold and snow?

To that I say, let’s pump the breaks for a moment and realize that meteorological winter started 7 days ago and astronomical winter begins on the 21st. We still have a whole lot of winter left! You may be surprised to learn that while Central Illinois sees snow, it’s not a particularly snowy climate. On average, Peoria averages only 26.2″ of snow in a season with more than 14″ of that snow falling in the months of January and February.

While we did see some early season snowfall on November 15th-16th, the average date of our first one inch snowfall is December 7th.

This winter is yet another La Niña winter, a rare triple dip La Niña which I discussed in this article back in August. La Niña winters tend to favor below normal temperatures in the north and above average precipitation in the Midwest. However, every La Niña is different and the strengths of those La Niñas tend to play a bigger role in how our winters shape up.

Despite the typically cold and snowy winter forecast that tend to accompany La Niña winters in Central Illinois, historically, the month of December turns out to be rather mild if not outright warm!

Take our last two December’s as an example. Both were part of La Niña winters and both saw above average temperatures and well below average snowfalls.

December 2020 Temperature and Snowfall Departures

December 2021 Temperature and Snowfall Departures

In both seasons, by the end of February (meteorological winter) we ended up with near to below average temperatures and above average snowfall. No doubt the back-to-back winter storms we had last season helped, but we still ended with well above average snowfall. I suspect we’ll see a similar trend take place this winter.

2020-2021 Winter season temperature and snowfall departures

2020-2021 Winter season temperature and snowfall departures

So how are things looking in the near term?

In an article I wrote back on November 30th, I discussed how a pattern of interlinked teleconnections could keep or send colder weather in to Central Illinois. Well, we’ve been off to a relatively warm start but those signs of a cool down still linger in the long range forecast.

Here’s what our current pattern looks like.

We have a polar jet stream to the north keeping the cold and snowy weather north of the region while a sub-tropical jet brings a bunch of rain to areas to our south.

However, there are signs that we could see a significant pattern change for the last two weeks of the month that could send the polar jet stream south along with much colder weather.

While it’s certainly no guarantee for snowfall, the polar jet stream would be in a favorable position to send storm systems our way that could lead to a snowier pattern ahead of Christmas.

The historical probability of a white Christmas in Peoria is 31%. In other words, out of 10 Christmas’, statistically speaking 3 of those 10 Christmas’ would be white. Will it happen this year? I can’t say. However if this pattern holds, it’s a type of pattern that would certainly make one a little more optimistic for a white Christmas. For more info on everything I wrote here, be sure to check out the linked articles in the story! I hope you found this post useful!