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Wally’s Weather: A Preliminary Winter 2013-14 Forecast

Above Photo By: Re Wikstrom

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From Gearhead Wally Phillips:

Hey-o, folks!  This is a fun time of year for us winter aficionados as the drag of summer heat is getting us antsy and the prospect of white stuff falling sooner than before puts a bit more kick in our step and widens the smile on our faces.  I’ve been brushing up on the trends of what the globe is showing me and am going to bring you what I call:

MY WAY-TOO-EARLY-BUT-I’M-SICK-OF-SUMMER WINTER WEATHER PREDICTIONS!

Keep in mind that weather prediction is the furthest thing from an exact science and forecasts can change drastically in a short period of time.  So what I’m showing right now are the long-range factors that will affect what type of winter activity will be seen in each region and what each factor is showing us.

EL NINO OR LA NINA?

Easy answer.  Neither.  What drives an El Nino or La Nina are the sea surface temperatures across the equator region of ocean between Papua New Guinea and Northwest South America.  The colder the water surface is within that ocean region, the more likely a La Nina will take place.  El Nino is driven by a warmer sea surface in the same area.

Wally's Weather Map

As seen by the above diagram, right now the Western Portion of the ENSO (El Nino-Southern Oscillation) phenomenon has a slightly above-normal temperature while the rest of the region is normal. The tiny region shown as cold is another factor, but it seems to have held the brunt of the cold and may not signify a Nina as of yet.

So, there being no clear cooling or warming in this ocean region is what a neutral beginning of the year looks like.  I know, sounds a bit boring, but there is support that a neutral winter can be the most consistent type for snowfall and that most regions will experience at least average snowfall.

TRENDS

Best predictor of weather? History. You find the closest match in history to what we are seeing now and go off of what happened there. Which years are the closest to what’s happening?  It looks like 1962-1963 and 2008-2009 are the closest matches:

  • 1962-1963: East sees a colder, but drier winter. Midwest stays around normal and then the West has a very quick start and stays cold and snowy except for extreme north and south states.
  • 2008-2009: Very cold and snowy season for the very northern central parts of the U.S. The very South and South Central stays the warmest and the driest by far, with dry spells reaching to southeastern states.  Michigan and the Ohio Valley as well as parts of New England claim higher than normal precipitation.  So does a spattering of the central Rockies.

WHAT DOES THIS ALL MEAN SO FAR?

Well, as I imagine, people are thinking that this is a bit early. The regional breakdown below is showing what most likely will happen as of now.  This can change over time periods, so I’ll be updating this every two weeks to one month:

East:  Colder-than-normal temperatures and above-normal precipitation looks to reign within the northern part of this region.  The highest concentration of both will be around the Ohio Valley, but have seen some swaths of higher average precipitation possible through Pennsylvania, upstate New York, and very northern New England. Winter will also have a fast start here.

Central areas will be a pain point as these states will lie within the rain/snow line most often with some possibility of damaging ice storms. The very south will have average to slightly above-average temperatures with a lower amount of precipitation.

Central:  Above-average precipitation with below-normal temperatures will still prevail in the northeast corner around Wisconsin, Michigan, Illinois, and Minnesota. The rest of the east-facing states here will be slightly below normal temperature-wise with more normal rainfall. The South here mirrors the southeastern states, except the normalizing of the temperatures, and will be much further below normal in rainfall.

West:  Warmest weather will be in the Southwest along Arizona and New Mexico while the rest of the temperatures stay mostly normal aside from a slight cooling for the extreme Northwest.  Precipitation is a big question mark as I’m seeing mostly normal values with drier conditions possible in those same warm areas and possibly in the extreme Northwest. I’ve also seen a couple of runs that have most of the West (coastline to Idaho/Utah border and south through to Texas) running a bit to more dry as well, and I hope this clears up a bit more in a few weeks.

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