Winter outlook for 2012 - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Winter outlook for 2012

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

It's been a dry, hot summer and with fall around the corner many are wondering what this winter will bring to Iowa.

The Climate Prediction Center is forecasting above normal temperatures and at or below normal precipitation this winter. The main reason for this forecast is the developing El Nino in the Pacific.

"Often times we see a little bit more snow than usual during the fall months and also the spring months but less in the mid-winter months. But as far as duration of snow cover, typically you don't see snow on the ground nearly as often as in a more average winter," said Harry Hillaker, Iowa climatologist.

According to Hillaker, normal snowfall amounts won't help to break this drought.

"Snowfall on average accounts for only about 10 percent of our normal precipitation. The key would be the rainfall we get this fall and again next spring," Hillaker said.

While some folks may be happy for a mild winter again, Bryan Foster knows that snow is important to Iowa topsoil.

"It covers that soil so that the soil isn't blowing in the winter time so you don't have that wind erosion. If we have a mild winter and the soil doesn't actually freeze then when the snow does melt it actually goes into the soil instead of running off and causing erosion with that," said Foster, Iowa State horticulturists.

Watering now will be crucial to protecting your plants and lawn through a potentially dry winter.

"Right now you need to be putting water on your landscape plants, your lawn, anything you want to survive through the winter. You're going to be putting on more water possibly this fall than you ever have in the past," Foster said.

Experts agree that an ideal winter this year would be enough snow to cover and protect the ground but still melt directly into the soil.

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