We released our 2011-2012 winter forecast for this year on October 2nd, and I have gotten a lot of positive feedback and questions. This year’s winter outlook is our 2nd winter outlook for Firsthand Weather, and I have done several winter outlooks before I started Firsthand Weather. As I have noticed over the years, there are some common misconceptions of a winter forecast, and I am going to try to debunk some myths that you may hold as true. A winter forecast is hard to come up with due to the fact that it is a seasonal forecast that is spanning over three months. With that said, it can be done. Let’s talk about the 5 myths one might have about this year’s 2011-2012 winter forecast.
Myth 1) I am in the brutally cold/dry zone. That must mean no snow for me: That is not particularly true especially for those that live up in the North. Of course if you are going to have less moisture in your area, that does mean that you will not get as much snow as you could have gotten, but if it is very cold in a particular region, the snow ratios will be much higher. The region #2 area on this year’s winter forecast was marked as brutally cold and dry. The temperatures are going to be brutally cold with the setup that will be taking place, but there will be less precip available. Does that matter? Somewhat. But with the extreme cold that is expected for that region, the snow ratios will be high, and any available precipitation will give most of you some good snowfall. Yes, you will see snow!
Myth 2) I am in the slightly warmer/wet zone. I will see neither cold or snow: For this particular winter, that statement will not be true at all. For the start of this winter, I expect the entire eastern United States to be very cold. There could even be a freeze along the Gulf coast states and Florida. Of course, this entire region will not see snow/ice because it is pretty far south, but some will. When putting together a winter forecast, one has to consider what is going to occur all three months of the winter. If I said this region was going to be cold because of a few weeks of cold weather, then I would be wrong because averages would not match up to that forecast. Yeah, this area will end up averaging warmer, but with the above normal precipitation expected for this region, some will get lucky with snow/ice when cold air is in the region at the same time. As I always say, it only takes one or two good snowstorms to give the southern regions above average snowfall.
Myth 3) I expect to see a week or two of brutal cold this winter. That must mean it’s going to be a cold winter: In no way can someone consider themselves to have had a cold winter if they only see a week or two of very cold temperatures. I even tweeted about that today. Just because Dallas saw two weeks of record breaking cold last winter does not mean that their winter temperatures were below normal. Like I said above, one has to consider all three months of winter. Overall, Dallas had above average temperatures last winter. Yeah, that area may see some Arctic outbreaks, but enjoy it while it lasts if you like the cold.
Myth 4) My area is in the average zone. It’s going to be boring this winter: I guess this is kind of a half myth because it depends on where you live and what weather you consider boring. Maybe I should have titled this post, “4 1/2 myths.” Anyways if you like snow, and you want to go skiing in the Colorado Rockies, then the snow will definitely be there this year. I am expecting average snowfall and average cold for this region. Like I said, it really depends on the person. If I lived in a more southern region of the US and the winter forecast was calling for average temperatures and average precip, then I would be bored. That’s why it’s a half myth!
Myth 5) There’s no way a meteorologist can be accurate in predicting an entire winter season: This is the biggest myth of them all. It is very possible to predict a winter season with pretty good accuracy. Of course, the forecast will not validate to be 100% true, but it’s not impossible for the outcome to end up fairly close to that. There’s several factors that go into predicting a seasonal forecast especially for the winter months, but it can be done. We have always put our winter forecast out in early October so we have a good understanding of what is going to happen. Yes, the weather does change, but keep in mind that some winer seasons are harder to predict that others. Just like anybody else, we’re not perfect!
If you have not fully read Firsthand Weather’s 2011-2012 winter forecast, click here. Be sure to follow us on Facebook. If you have ever wondered whether something is a myth or truth in weather, please ask us in the comments section or on Facebook.