Hoping for a snow day this winter? Nick Mikulas tells you how likely it is

Nick Mikulas is a contributing meteorologist for KALB.
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - At long last, it looks like we are finally slipping into a pattern that I wouldn’t really call fall-like, but it is one that will allow you to comfortably wear jeans, or even squeeze in a sweatshirt until about 10 a.m.

These cool mornings got me thinking about snow. Here’s a bit of a brief window into my daydreams. My wife was out of town for a night, and I sat on my phone looking at real estate in the mountains of Colorado, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, and the Northwoods of Wisconsin.

The first on that list was hilariously expensive, unless you want a 600 square foot cabin on a non-plowed dirt road that, by the way, comes with exactly zero bathrooms or running water. Yeah, sounded quaint until I hit those last bits.

The other two destinations at least offer some reasonably priced places, but are a minimum 16-hour drive, or expensive flight/rental car combo to actually get to. When what you’re looking for is a snowy destination, complex, expensive travel is exactly not what you are looking for. Plus the fact that it would be difficult to care for a second home that is so far away. Plus the extra hilarious portion where we couldn’t afford these fairly reasonably priced daydreams in that far off land of Michigan where only the coolest (pun alert) would want to have a second home.

This is an exercise I’ve been going through for as long as I’ve had an internet connection. It’s unrealistic on every level, but it’s kind of soothing to look at and dream of a day where the kids are off adulting, and my wife and I just impulsively go for it.

Why does this matter to you? Because for $10 a month you can sponsor a local meteorolog... Nah, that won’t work. It got me thinking about snowfall at my first home here in Alexandria. How often do we see it? What are the chances on an average winter that we will see it? What about this winter?

Thankfully, the National Weather Service in Lake Charles has done the hard work. You can check it out at this link (which we also have in 'related links'): https://www.weather.gov/lch/snowclimo

Note that this data goes from 1895 to 2010, so it doesn’t include the crazy winter of 2013-14, but it does give us a good idea. Here are some interesting takeaways. In that 115-year span, we received 25 measurable snows. That means more than a trace. So it doesn’t take into account flurries, or when you may see a little patch or two around the base of trees and on cars. It basically means that we have widespread ground cover, even if only 1/10 inch. That happened only 25 times, or once every 4.6 years. This includes snow and sleet, but not freezing rain. We’ve certainly seen plenty of storms that bring ice accumulation via freezing rain, but our focus here is on the white stuff.

The range of dates for accumulating snow in Alexandria stretch from December 2 to to February 23. 84 glorious days. Again, we’ve seen freezing rain many times outside of that range, and even snow or sleet that wasn’t enough to measure. Remember April 7, 2007? Those wildly out of place Easter flakes? Weird stuff happens, but these numbers give us a picture of what is most plausible for our area.

If you’ve done the math above, our average of one measurable snow every 4.6 years gives us roughly a 22-percent chance of seeing measurable snow. I’m rounding up. Plus there are those elusive years where we see more than one measurable snow in one year. Take that glorious winter of 1898-99 when we had four measurable snows! Those were the days. Literally before sliced bread.

So I guess I should give you some sort of forecast here. It looks like a La Niña winter, which typically means above normal temperatures and below normal precipitation. I’d call that the saddest thing since the brief ban on sliced bread in 1943. Not kidding, look it up.

Since I’m always looking for a silver lining, I will say that La Niña, while typically warm, tends to bring us a couple of really stout shots of cold air. Snow lovers just have to hope that if these cold blasts materialize, they will find a little moisture to work with.

Now, I’m off to make a sandwich.