In case you haven’t heard, El Nino has returned, and it’s had forecasters scratching their heads as to what affects it will have on our winter weather. Actually, many long-range prognostications to date, from the Farmer’s Almanac to various other private forecasting sources, have featured headline-busting proclamations of extreme cold and heavy snow.
The official outlook from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center features less hysterical arm-waving, and promises below normal temperatures for much of the Southeast, but near or above normal temps elsewhere. They also anticipate a wet Gulf Coast, perhaps spreading northward through the Carolinas.
All forecasts hinge, at least in part, on El Nino. This warm ocean anomaly in the southern Pacific typically translates its affects to upper-level wind patterns in the Northern Hemisphere, especially during winter months. But there are many, many other factors that come into play as well. Trying to figure all of this out is at best pure science, at worst total guesswork, and in reality a combination of the two (leaning heavily to the guess side).
For my part, I put together an outlook that skews us on the warm side overall for this winter, but with snowfall (10-15″) a little above average. Near-term, a very cold pattern could take shape for the end of this month into early December, but I doubt it will hold for longer than a couple of weeks. We may even see our first wintry precipitation of the season. It’s later this winter, however, that I see even greater chances for some winter “fun”.
I’ll have a more detailed discussion of this in a future blog.
*posted by Jim Duncan