Astronomical winter officially begins tomorrow at 11:11 CST. But as anyone in the Midwest can tell you, meteorological winter began three weeks ago.
The Chicago Tribune has a nice, clear graphic today showing the problem:
The late, strong Alaska block this year is almost certainly hanging around because of anthropogenic climate change. Usually by this point the North Pacific has cooled enough not to drag the mid-latitude jet stream all the way up to the Arctic.
Welcome to the new climate.
Eventually, average temperatures will likely increase the Gulf of Mexico's persistent high pressure area such that the mid-latitude jet stream doesn't get as far south as Chicago during the winter. At that point our winters will likely be wetter and warmer, more like North Carolina's. Meanwhile, though, we're likely to have a frickin' cold winter, one hopes followed by a cooler summer due to a cooler lake.