Lots of uncertainty in winter forecast

The National Weather Service has issued its winter outlook forecast, but it isn’t sure what will happen in Connecticut.precip

No firm predictions on how much, or how little, snow we could get. In fact, they say there is an “equal chance” that we could get more, or less, precipitation between December and February.

And temperatures? Same deal. For southwestern Connecticut, there is an “equal chance” that it will be colder or warmer.

We fall into the “equal chance” category, meaning, according to the NWS,  “there is not a strong or reliable enough climate signal in these areas to favor one category over the others, so they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation.”

tempWithout getting too technical, The reason for this uncertainty is that neither El Niño nor La Niña is expected to influence the climate during the upcoming winter.

La Nada.

“It’s a challenge to produce a long-term winter forecast without the climate pattern of an El Niño or a La Niña in place out in the Pacific because those climate patterns often strongly influence winter temperature and precipitation here in the United States,” said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

“Without this strong seasonal influence, winter weather is often affected by short-term climate patterns, such as the Arctic Oscillation, that are not predictable beyond a week or two. So it’s important to pay attention to your local daily weather forecast throughout the winter.”

The NWS says its winter outlook “does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations. Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance.”

To read the full “prognostic discussion” of the winter outlook forecast, click here.

You’ve got to give the National Weather Service credit for saying they really don’t know what will happen.

But that hasn’t stopped other forecasters …

The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that “Winter will be colder and drier than normal, although snowfall will be above normal in most of the region. The coldest periods will be in early and mid-December and in early to mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in early and mid-December, and in early and mid-February.”

The other almanac, The Farmer’s Almanac, says there may even be a snowstorm on Super Bowl Sunday, (Feb. 2, Groundhog’s Day). out

“Over the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, we are “red-flagging” the first ten days of February for possible heavy winter weather. More importantly, on February 2, Super Bowl XLVIII will be played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey’s Meadowlands—the very first time a Super Bowl will be played outdoors in a typically cold weather environment. We are forecasting stormy weather for this, the biggest of sporting venues. But even if we are off by a day or two with the timing of copious wind, rain, and snow, we wish to stress that this particular part of the winter season will be particularly volatile and especially turbulent.”

The Weather Channel says “A winter of extreme cold or extreme warmth is not expected during the months from December to February. For the Northeast, the best chance for extended cold temperatures is expected to be late in the winter.”

Accuweather: “Winter weather lovers will have to be patient this year, as the start of the season in the East certainly won’t pack a punch in terms of cold or snowfall. Winter will begin mildly, with a long duration of above-normal temperatures. One snow system and some chilly air could come at times during November, however.

“Temperatures will fall in the latter part of the season, likely the beginning of January, allowing snow to fall along the I-95 corridor.”

So there you have it. Not too much agreement on the winter outlook.

I’ll stand by with the National Weather Service’s outlook of … who knows what will happen.






Jim Shay