According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO) neutral conditions are expected this winter, which by some research, indicates a possibility for tornadoes during the months of January, February and March.
The NOAA says originally, long-range projections indicated that we were likely to have an El Nino weather pattern of weak or possibly moderate strength this winter. (El Nino is the warming of the waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean), but now projections indicate ENSO Neutral conditions.
A paper published in 2008 by Ashton Robinson Cook, a Little Rock native working on a PhD in meteorology at the University of Oklahoma, and Dr. Joe Schaefer, who was director of the Storm Prediction Center for many years, shows that we are most likely to have winter tornadoes when ENSO conditions prevail, according to the NOAA. That paper can be found here.
The graphic above shows tornadoes occurring on "tornado days" during the winter ENSO Neutral phase (1950 through 2003). "Tornado days" are defined as days on which at least six tornadoes occurred in the 24-hour period from Midnight to Midnight. On average, about 3 "tornado days" occurred each ENSO Neutral winter, the NOAA says.
The graphic below shows tornadoes occurring on "strong and violent tornado days" during the winter ENSO Neutral phase (1950 through 2003).
"Strong and violent tornado days" are defined as days on which at least 5 tornadoes of F2 or greater intensity occurred in the 24-hour period from midnight to midnight. On average, about 1.75 "strong and violent tornado days" occurred each ENSO Neutral winter, according to the NOAA.