Beware of Bogus Winter Forecasts

Bogus Winter Prediction 2015-16

Over the last few days, I’ve noticed a bogus 2015-16 winter forecast floating around the internet, and it has continued to generate thousands of shares every few minutes, despite the lack of meteorology behind the forecast. This is just a friendly reminder to be careful what you share on the internet, and make sure you check your sources. For me, I usually do not share any articles or content from a website or social media page until they have proven to be credible. If it’s a weather site, be sure to go back and look at their previous forecasts in order to verify their accuracy, and make sure that future forecasts are within reason. I expect my readers to hold Firsthand Weather to that same standard. Below is the winter forecast that is making its rounds, which was originally published on a satire website.

Bogus Winter Forecast:

Bogus Winter Prediction 2015-16

I am in no way opposed to putting out seasonal forecasts several months in advance. In fact, I just published my early 2015-16 winter forecast this month along with a separate article that included my detailed analysis with my current reasoning. The bogus winter forecast from the satire site was put out as a joke, and people need to realize that. Sometimes it’s difficult to decipher between what is legitimate and what’s not. Even winter forecasts that are backed with solid meteorology can include fairly sizable errors, especially when they’re put out several months in advance. We still have A LOT to learn when it comes to long-range forecasting!

Firsthand Weather’s Early 2015-16 Winter Forecast:

2015-16 Winter Forecast

So why should I care? I care because these types of weather forecasts make the rest of us look bad, who spend countless hours making sure that our forecasts are accurate. There’s no way that this satirical forecast will verify for everyone, and if people don’t get their snow, well, it’s not pretty. 😉

Again, just be careful what you view as legitimate, and check the source before you share their content. It would do us all a HUGE favor.

Early 2015-16 Winter Forecast Detailed Analysis

Man Digging Out Of Snowstorm

In the conclusion of my regional breakdown of the 2015-16 winter forecast last Sunday, I included a few winters that could be similar to this upcoming winter: 1957-58, 1986-87, and 2002-03. The 1957-58 and 1986-87 years are close ones to watch, even though there are still some pretty noticeable differences compared to this year. In recent months, you have likely heard about how this El Nino is going to be the strongest ever, and how it may end up smashing the previous records, even beating out the 1982-83 and 1997-98 El Ninos. My goal is not to try to dispute that in this forecast, although I do believe that forecast models are overestimating how strong this El Nino will ultimately become.

By the way, if you care nothing about the reasoning behind my winter forecast, but instead just want to know what to expect this winter (without all of the complicated details), then check out my region-by-region breakdown of the winter forecast by clicking here. You can consider this latest article “part 2” of my early 2015-16 winter forecast.

2015-16 Winter Forecast

El Nino’s Come In Different Flavors/The Pacific Remains Very Warm:

I expressed on social media, my newsletter and on the website how and why this winter is going to be more difficult to pin down compared to the previous two winters. I also have warned and will continue to warn that one can’t simply combine all of the previous strong El Nino winters together and expect to get the same carbon-copy winter in 2015-16. While I’m predicting a moderate to strong El Nino winter this year, let’s not forget about the wrong El Nino forecasts in the past with the most recent misses being last year and in 2012. El Nino isn’t the only kid on the block, and I really don’t think that I can express that enough.

Based on what we have been able to observe in the past, sea surface temperature (SST) anomalies across the tropical Pacific can have a big influence on mid-latitude precipitation/temperatures. In fact, SST anomalies across the equatorial Pacific can also have a strong influence on heights/SST anomalies over other parts of the Pacific, influencing downstream weather in the U.S. During the 2013 summer, anomalously warmer waters began to emerge in the northeast Pacific, which have remained in place over the last two years. I’m not going to get into all of the research that has been done over the past couple of years that shows the connection between western equatorial Pacific warmth and how it can drive higher heights/warmer SST anomalies up the western U.S. coast into the Gulf of Alaska. What I want to mainly focus on for the moment is how these past two winters were driven by this warmth, despite the absence of any Greenland/Arctic blocking, and how this warmth may once again have an impact on the long-wave pattern over the U.S. this winter. If you want to do any further research on all of this, look up the North Pacific Mode, which is not the same as the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO).

As most are well aware, the last two winters have been extreme with very warm and dry conditions in the western U.S. and extreme cold and snowy/icy conditions in many locations across the central and eastern U.S. The biggest difference last winter was that the ridge was farther east, which pushed the trough farther east. On a smaller scale, that made a pretty sizable difference for some locations, but on a larger-scale, the past two winters were carbon-copies of one another. This shows the the very warm waters in the Gulf of Alaska enhanced ridging up over Alaska and along the West Coast, which forced a trough downstream. To put this is very simple terms, the jet stream pattern was very wavy.

2013-14 Winter:

2013-14 Winter

2014-15 Winter (the eastern trough doesn’t look as pronounced because December 2014 was mild overall):

2014-15 Winter

You hear a lot of talk about what the “typical” El Nino winter is like, and it makes me cringe every time I see a blog or someone on television talking about that. 1) There simply aren’t enough strong El Nino events to go off of. It’s not like we’ve had dozens of very strong El Nino winters in the past 50 years. You have the 1982-83 and 1997-98 very strong El Nino winters, and from a scientific standpoint, it’s never wise to go off a couple of seasons like that. There just aren’t enough to compare to. Of course, there are other strong El Nino winters, but even some of those don’t fit the stereotypical El Nino winter. 2) El Ninos come in different flavors. You heard me talk a lot last winter about how the exact placement of warmer waters along the equatorial Pacific plays a huge role in the overall pattern during a U.S. winter.

Comparing Two Sets Of Winters:

I want to show you a comparison just to give you an idea of how a more expansive warm pool over the northeast Pacific and down the West Coast can influence the pattern over the U.S. even during El Nino winters. Now keep in mind that it’s common to have a warm PDO during an El Nino winter, but the placement of this warmth is important.

Let’s begin with the 1972-73, 1982-83, 1997-98 winters. These are the big El Nino winters that everybody focuses on. I’ve combined all 3 winters to show you a SST anomaly map, a 500 mb height anomaly map, and a temperature anomaly map. Notice the much lower heights over the Gulf of Alaska that extend down into the southern U.S. Higher heights are over the northern U.S. This is the kind of setup you’d expect, given how far east the north-central Pacific cooler waters extend. Combine that with an east-based El Nino, and you get a very wet and cool south and a warmer and drier north. It’s cooler in the South because of more clouds and precipitation, not because of any connection to Arctic air getting displaced south.

SST Anomaly Map 2

500 mb Anomaly Map

Temperature Anomaly Map

Now let’s compare that to the 1957-58, 1986-87, 2002-03 winters. All of these were El Ninos, one strong and two moderate. Notice how expansive the warmth is in the northeast Pacific and how that warmth expands along the West Coast. The north-central cool pool doesn’t extend nearly as far east. In response, the Gulf of Alaska trough is farther west, a ridge extends farther west into western Canada and Alaska, and a more pronounced trough is over the the eastern third of the U.S. However, it’s important to note that I have noticed that more blocking over Greenland can actually flatten the ridge farther west over the West Coast and Alaska, which is why I encourage you to study these three winters individually.

SST Anomaly Map 3

500 mb Anomaly Map 2

Temperature Anomaly Map 2

By comparing these two sets of winters against one other, you get two different results. The first set favors cooler conditions over the Southwestern U.S. and a core of above average temperatures from the Northern Plains to the Northeast. The second set is completely different. The core of the coldest temperatures are across the Southeast, and it isn’t nearly as warm across the Northeast. The warmth extends from the western U.S. into the Northern Plains. It’s important to keep in mind that the placement of the SST anomalies across the equatorial Pacific and the state of the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)/Arctic Oscillation (AO) also played a role in the overall outcome of some of these winters, but it’s also important to realize that the configuration of the SST anomalies in the north-central and northeast Pacific can play a significant role in the overall pattern across the U.S.

For the record, I do believe that we will begin to see the warm pool in the northeastern Pacific break down some from the west especially this fall. This should get things looking a bit more similar to the 1957-58, 1986-87, and 2002-03 winters. If it doesn’t begin to break down at all, then I’ll honestly be able to say that something is occurring that we haven’t seen in modern history. It will also be important to monitor the future evolution of this El Nino, and the placement of the warmest waters across the equatorial Pacific. This El Nino could also begin to weaken sooner than normal since it began strengthening earlier than normal.

The Atlantic’s Influence:

The majority of you probably remember the epic winter of 2009-10, often referred to as “snowmageddon.” There were places getting snow that hadn’t seen snow in years, and the East Coast continuously got slammed with storm after storm. This was the perfect combination of having a moderate (borderline strong) El Nino event combined with a very negative NAO/AO through a good part of the winter. When you get strong blocking over Greenland, cold air gets displaced much farther to the south, and winter storms tend to ride up the entire East Coast. Because of our lack of a negative NAO/AO over the last two winters, that is one of the aspects of winter that has been somewhat absent.

It’s important for me to point out that predicting the future state of the NAO/AO is very difficult in advance, but the SST anomalies seem pretty unfavorable to have extensive blocking over Greenland this upcoming winter. In 2009-10, the waters were much warmer around Greenland, cooler across the central Atlantic, and warmer in the main development region (MDR) of the Atlantic. Right now, it’s the exact opposite. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be blocking, given that there are other factors (some that are unknown) that can influence the state of the NAO/AO, but I really have nothing to go off of. The 1986-87 winter is a good example of a winter with a negative NAO/AO with unfavorable sea surface temperature anomalies. I’ll be interested to see how the changes that we’re seeing in the Atlantic influence the overall pattern, and if we end up with another less “blocky” winter over that region.

2009 Winter vs. Current SST Anomalies:

2009-10 Winter SST Anomalies

Current SST Anomalies

As I began pointing out in 2013, you don’t need extensive blocking over Greenland and the Arctic to have a cold and snowy/icy winters in parts of the central and eastern U.S. We’ve had two winters that have been driven by warming in the northeast Pacific. Had those anomalously warmer waters not been present, I believe the previous two winters would have been rather boring and the exact opposite winter would have occurred.

Putting All Of This Together:

As you can tell, forecasting this upcoming winter is going to be complicated, but I really hope that I’ve given you enough info to do your own research, if you choose to do so. I still believe that the 1957-58, 1986-87, and 2002-03 winters are excellent years to study up on. If you choose to research this further, you’ll quickly notice that there are some key differences in each of those years, but that’s not a bad thing. Some had more Greenland/Arctic blocking than others, and one, in particular, was strongly influenced by warmer waters in the Gulf of Alaska and along the West Coast. What all of those years have in common is that there was a pronounced warm pool that extended from the northeast Pacific, down the West Coast, to the equatorial Pacific.

The reason SST anomalies are particularly important during the winter months is because as most already know, water has a higher heat capacity than land; therefore it takes much longer to change sea surface temperatures than land temperatures. These warmer or cooler bodies of water can warm or cool the air above them, which can have major impacts on weather patterns around the globe. That’s why the future evolution of the Pacific over these next few months is VERY important!

Hopefully this gives a little bit more of my reasoning behind why some aspects of my winter forecast differs than what would be expected from a typical strong El Nino winter. I explained a lot of what I was expecting this winter in my region-by-region breakdown of this forecast, which I strongly encourage you to read if you missed it. However, I want to briefly elaborate on a few points that I may have not been clear on last Sunday.

I’m expecting a very active winter in the wintry battle zone (region 7) of my forecast. With the combination of sub-tropical moisture getting pulled into the Southeast along with an active storm track, there should be plenty of opportunities to get wintry precipitation over that region if cold air is available (which in many cases, it should be). I explained last week that some of the most historic winter storms across the Southern Plains, Southeast, and Mid-Atlantic have occurred when temperatures as a whole for that winter were marginal. People automatically associate very cold weather with a lot of snow, but it doesn’t always work out that way.

I feel that a lot of the regions in my wintry battle zone will end up with above average snowfall, especially given that it only takes one storm to go above that average. However, I believe that ice storms could be a big issue this upcoming winter especially in the southern regions of my wintry battle zone, including cities like Birmingham, Atlanta, and maybe even Columbia. If sufficient cold air is available and the storm track is suppressed particularly far to the south, that threat could even be farther south, spilling into region 8 of my forecast. It’s really difficult to know exact details this far out though.

My region 6 area is the big wildcard this winter. I feel that a lot of those areas could definitely experience below average temperatures this winter, but determining how snowy this season will be for that region will be difficult at this point. There’s a reason that I cut off my wintry battle zone before reaching up the entire East Coast. The big bull’s eye should be a bit farther south this year, and cities like Boston shouldn’t get anything close to the amounts of snow that they got last winter. But if you’re located from Dallas, TX/OKC though the Southeast into parts of the Mid-Atlantic (my wintry battle zone), you’re the area I’m watching most closely at this point for a very active winter. Of course, that’s subject to change.

It seems to just be expected that California will get copious amounts of rain/snow this winter because of El Nino, and while I am predicting it to be much wetter over the area this winter, that is not guaranteed. When I get time, I plan to write a very detailed discussion on this topic. This El Nino should be strong enough to override the effects of any other potential negators in that area, but you just have to be careful when making those assumptions. I can give you examples of when it wasn’t wet during El Nino winters (e.g. 1986-87 winter) or when the heavier precipitation fell over northern California into Oregon instead of southern California (e.g. 1957-58, 2002-03 winters). You know my forecast, but believe with caution.

Right now, I’m leaning towards December being warmer for much of the U.S. with the exception maybe being over sections of the southern U.S. January, February, and even parts of March could be quite active and cold, particularly over the eastern U.S. I’ll be getting into details on specific months in my final winter forecast in November, so I’ll save that for when I hopefully have a much better handle on everything.

If you read this entire forecast, I’m impressed. In fact, if you made it through this entire forecast, comment on the site or on one of the social media pages, and let me know!

Keeping A Close Eye On The Tropics

East Coast tropical storm

I mentioned several days ago on social media that a close eye needs to be kept on the tropics due to the possibility that some home-brew activity could try to develop later this month. Even though I like to give an early warning when conditions seem as if they could become a bit more favorable for tropical development, I usually do not start discussing anything in too much detail until there is an actual area of convection (storminess) that is being monitored for possible organization, which isn’t currently the case.

A cold front has pushed into the southern Gulf Coast states and extends off the East Coast. During the summer, it’s difficult to get these fronts to push too far south, so they usually just stall out until they dissipate. In the meantime, clusters of thunderstorms can develop and become better organized over open waters along a stalled or dissipating front, if atmospheric conditions are favorable for development.

Below is a water vapor image, which gives you an idea of where the front is currently located. You can see the dry air (depicted as dark orange/black) pushing into parts of the Southeast as surface high pressure builds in from the north. You can also see the storms being triggered by the front along the southern Gulf coast and Florida.

Water Vapor Image

The forecast models have been hinting at something developing later next week near Florida or just off the East Coast, and the latest two runs of the European model have been quite aggressive. It currently has a tropical system developing off the Southeast coast near the Carolinas and then racing up the East Coast, staying just offshore. Details will definitely change.

East Coast tropical storm

Tropical Storm East Coast 2

Again, it’s important not to get too caught up on the actual storm showing up on some of the models, but if you’re located along the northeast Gulf Coast, anywhere in Florida, and up the East Coast, then keep a close watch on everything. I’ll be posting additional and more detailed updates if needed.


Fukushima Nuclear Meltdown Likely Cause of Mutant Daises

Mutant Daises from Fukushima

Since the weather has been reasonably quiet lately, I thought I’d change things up a bit and write about something else. Most of you likely remember the deadly March 2011 Japan tsunami that caused the nuclear meltdown in three of the six reactors at Fukushima. Over the last few days, a certain photo that was taken by Twitter user @San_kaido of what appears to be unusual-looking daises has been making its rounds on the internet.

Mutant Daises from Fukushima

The photo was taken about 70 miles away from the Fukushima site, and what you’re seeing is a deformity that is caused my fasciation. Fasciation causes the abnormal growth of various flowers that can ultimately distort the head of the flower(s). While scientists are unsure what causes fasciation, they suspect that it is the result of a hormonal imbalance. Likely causes of this imbalance may be due to random mutations, insects, disease or physical injury to the flower.

@San_kaido described what he saw when he shared the photo:

“The right one grew up, split into 2 stems to have 2 flowers connected each other, having 4 stems of flower tied belt-like. The left one has 4 stems grew up to be tied to each other and it had the ring-shaped flower. The atmospheric dose is 0.5 μSv/h at 1m above the ground.”

While the deformity of these flowers was probably caused by radiation exposure due the meltdown four years ago, some of you may have seen the result of fasciation in your own gardens, even though it’s quite rare. In other words, fasciation does occur in flowers that haven’t been exposed to high amounts of radiation. In earlier reports, changes have been observed in fruits and vegetables grown near the Fukushima site.

To learn more about fascination, you can click the link that I provided.

Hot, Cool, and Everything In Between

nam temperature forecast

I’m going to keep tonight’s article very brief, but I do want to give you an overview as to what’s going to happen through the rest of this week. Many have asked if there is any relief in sight from this awful heat, and the answer is yes for some of you and no for others.


A cold front currently stretches from the Northeast down through the northern Gulf Coast states into the Southern Plains, and it is going to continue to slowly move south and eventually stall out. Although much of the Southeastern U.S. will not see any major heat relief from this front, the central and northern Plains, the Ohio Valley, parts of the Tennessee Valley, the Great Lakes, and the Mid-Atlantic/Northeast will feel the effects of this front. In fact, some of these regions already have cooled down, and the biggest difference felt will be the decrease in humidity.

The Tennessee Valley, the Mississippi Valley, and into the Gulf Coast states will be the area to watch for thunderstorm development over the next few days right around that stalled frontal boundary, and the humidity is going to make it feel very hot. It’s actually been a bit cooler this month across parts of the Southeast, but it’s very hard to tell in the very sticky environment.

WPC’s 3 Day Rainfall Forecast:

3 day rainfall

As the week progresses, the heat is really going to build across the central United States due to a strengthening upper-level ridge. This heat will affect the Plains and eventually expand eastward towards the Great Lakes into the Ohio Valley. The Southeast will remain pretty hot but seasonable in many locations. Regions west of the Rockies will generally be cooler, and many of those areas could get some rainfall, although not all locations.

NAM Forecasted Temps For Late Friday Afternoon:

nam temperature forecast

If you live along the Gulf Coast or Southeast Coast, be sure to keep a close watch on the tropics over the next several days going into this weekend/next week. These stalled frontal boundaries are notorious for causing some issues in the tropics, so if anything pops up, I’ll definitely be making you aware of it.

Early 2015-16 Winter Forecast: A Regional Breakdown

2015-16 Winter Forecast

Each July, I release an early winter forecast that is based off of the research that I have done over the previous few months. When reading this forecast, you need to keep a few things in mind. First, it’s July, so things can and likely will change between now and this winter. Also keep in mind that you may not experience the same weather conditions for three months non-stop. It’s not uncommon to experience a month of warmer conditions but the overall winter be cold or vice versa. This previous winter is a great example of that. The weather is constantly changing, and my goal in this early forecast is to give you a look at the big, overall picture. I’ll be getting into the specifics of each individual month in my final winter forecast in November.

I am changing things up a bit this year to accommodate to two groups, those who simply want to know WHAT is going to happen this winter and those who want to know the WHY behind the forecast. In this post, I simply want to provide you with a region-by-region breakdown of what I believe could occur this winter, and while I’ll be getting into some of the research behind the forecast, I’m going to save most of that for next Sunday, July 26th. I have expressed on social media and in my newsletter why this winter is going to be more difficult to nail down than the last two, and I will eventually be expounding upon that. By putting out the forecast in two parts, I will be making more of my research available to those who are interested in breaking it down further.

Firsthand Weather’s Early 2015-16 Winter Forecast:

2015-16 Winter Forecast

Early 2015-16 Winter Forecast Discussion:

An El Niño continues to develop across the central and eastern Pacific and is expected to strengthen through the fall and remain in place through the winter months. An El Niño can have major effects on the overall pattern during the United States winter and often brings cooler and wetter conditions from California to Texas into the Southeast/along parts of the East Coast, while the northern half of the country gets warmer conditions with less precipitation and snow. However, I strongly feel that despite the strength of this El Nino that is already breaking modern records, the future state of the warm pool in the northeast Pacific over the Gulf of Alaska is going to have to be taken into consideration, unless it weakens significantly between now and this winter.

Our previous two winters have been driven by the anomalously warmer waters over the northeast Pacific, which caused ridging to strengthen over the western U.S., bringing with it record warmth and dry weather. In response, this forced a trough to dig into the eastern half of the U.S, bringing with it record cold and snow/ice. If you look at the past two winters, the 2014-15 winter was a near repeat of the 2013-14, except the ridge was farther east last winter, which in return shifted the trough farther east.

Despite the strength of this El Niño, it will likely begin to weaken some through the winter, especially since it began to develop/strengthen much earlier than most other El Niños typically do. That doesn’t mean that it won’t be moderate to strong this winter, but it’s a point that must be noted. Also, it’s worth pointing out that the northeast Pacific warm pool does have the capability to override about any climate signal that may influence the overall pattern in the U.S., even El Nino to an extent. It’s very common to have neutral to warmer waters in the northeastern Pacific and along the West Coast horseshoe around cooler waters just to the west during an El Nino winter, but the extent of the warmth currently across the Pacific basin is unprecedented.

As this El Niño continues to evolve, the northeast Pacific warm pool will likely break down some from the west. While I currently believe that El Niño conditions will have a profound effect on sensible weather across the United States this winter, the current projections for the strength of this El Niño are likely way overdone, although it could eventually get close to or maybe even reach the strength that the 1982-83 and 1997-98 El Niños reached.

Again, I’ll get into the detailed meteorology behind this forecast next Sunday and provide you with all of my research. I’m trying to keep things much simpler in this initial release.

A Region-By-Region Breakdown:

The official early winter forecast map is divided into regions and includes a number for each zone. Simply find the number on the map for your area, and go to your region below.

Region 1) This zone is looking at another dry and warmer than average winter, although wetter conditions could creep up farther north along the coast early on in the winter. During El Niño winters, the more active Pacific jet stream typically stays a bit farther to the south, but there are definitely exceptions to that rule.

Much of Idaho into western Montana should remain particularly dry and warmer. Overall snowfall amounts will likely be below average, especially the farther east one goes in this zone.

Region 2) Finally, California and parts of the Southwest may get some beneficial rain this winter, but let me warn you that I am skeptical at this point. This strengthening El Niño is very impressive so far but so is the warmer waters that currently extend northward along the West Coast into the Gulf of Alaska. One may initially suspect that that could enhance the amount of moisture reaching the coast, and while that may be the case this winter, it also must be noted that the extension of the Pacific jet stream farther east is what brings an increased number of systems into California. If the temperature difference between the warmer, equatorial Pacific waters and the cooler waters farther north is less, then this may shift the jet stream farther north or not extend it as far east.

Right now, I feel that much of this area will receive beneficial rains, but there are uncertainties. I’m predicting slightly above average temperatures for this zone, despite an increased chance of precipitation. As I continue to watch everything over these next few months, I’ll adjust temperatures as needed in my final winter forecast.

Region 3) This zone should get average to slightly above average precipitation with temperatures that will probably be a little bit above average. Even with above average temperatures, snow should be at or above average by the end of the winter, particularly in the mountainous regions.

The area that could end up with closer to average temperatures will be into parts of New Mexico and Arizona, although that is a bit of a wildcard at this point.

Region 4) This zone should end up with well-above temperatures and less snow overall. Let me remind you that this forecast covers a 3-month period, so that does not mean that there won’t be any Arctic intrusions at all in this region. During many El Niño years, the northern jet stream usually stays north of this region, keeping most of the truly Arctic air farther north. Even though I do expect the overall pattern not be nearly as zonal (a west to east flow) as some of the stronger El Niño years in the past, it seems that most of the Arctic intrusions will occur east of this zone.

Some bigger Arctic intrusions could occur later in the winter, especially closer to Great Lakes region. The bigger cities such as Chicago and the Twin Cities should end up with lower than average snowfall.

Region 5) Somebody always ends up in what I refer to as the “in-between” zone, and this year, that region happens to extend from parts of the Plains/Mississippi Valley and into the Great Lakes. Generally, I expect most of this region to have above average temperatures earlier in the winter, but later in the winter could be a different story.

The part of this zone that will likely have the highest chance of getting average to above average snowfall will be across parts of Kansas and Missouri. The rest of this zone may end up with drier than average conditions throughout much of the winter; therefore snowfall could be below average.

Region 6) If you’re familiar at all with what a lot of strong El Niño winters usually look like, you may be wondering why I have this entire region as being cold with typical snow. As I explained above, the very warm waters in the northeast Pacific have not dissipated, and even though we have plenty of time for it to break down from the west, it still could be there in some form by this winter. These warmer waters do have the ability to affect the overall long-wave pattern in the U.S., and as we saw the last two winters, it can create a wavy and amplified jet stream, pushing Arctic air south into this region.

While it’s difficult to say just how cold this region will be at this point, I do believe that several intrusions of Arctic air are possible. I don’t expect snowfall to be nearly as high as last year in places like Boston but decent snowfall totals should occur for many of these regions. Conditions should be drier overall in the Ohio Valley, but the amount of snowfall that the area gets this winter is still a bit of a wildcard. I should have a lot more information in the fall for this region as there are still some fairly sizable uncertainties.

Region 7) This is the zone that you’re going to want to be under if you prefer a variety of wintry weather, however there are some uncertainties that I’ll need to explain. During the majority of most moderate to strong El Niños, the southern jet stream (the sub-tropical jet) becomes much more active and transports more moisture into Texas and eastward into the Southeast/along parts of the East Coast. The big wildcard usually becomes how much cold, Arctic air will be available.

With that said, some of the most remarkable winter events in this zone have occurred when the temperatures overall for the entire winter were just marginal. I’m really leaning towards this being a colder than average winter across much of this zone with those chances increasing the farther east one is. El Niños usually bring about cooler than average conditions across this area during the winter because of more precipitation and clouds, but I do believe some major intrusions of Arctic air could push into this area, especially later in the winter. I will further expound upon my reasoning next Sunday, but the overview discussion at the beginning of this article give you a basic idea of my reasoning.

The ice storm threat will be greater for the southern regions in this zone including places like Atlanta and Birmingham, and almost all of these areas have a decent shot at getting above average snowfall. In fact, some locations in this zone (not all) could end up with well above average snowfall. As always, not everyone in this zone will get the snow they want, but the chances are once again higher than average for a more active winter.

Region 8) This zone has a pretty good shot at getting above average precipitation due to an active and more southern storm track (jet stream) that will likely set up, bringing storm systems and moisture into the region. Due to this likely increase in storminess and cloud-cover, temperatures will probably be below average overall.

The big question becomes whether or not temperatures will be sufficiently cold enough for some of the more northern areas of this zone to get a shot at a winter storm. The chances could be higher for that to occur this winter but far from guaranteed. The 2009-10 El Nino winter was pretty great for some of these areas due to the high amount of blocking that built over the Arctic and Greenland, which displaced Arctic air into the Deep South. Some of you saw snow for the first time in years as a result!

Florida and areas along the Gulf Coast beach could have a heightened threat of severe weather throughout the winter, and the highest impact zones will depend on the dominant storm track this winter.

Concluding Thoughts:

I do expect the El Niño to continue to strengthen through the fall, although not as much as what the forecast models are currently projecting. I also believe that the warmer waters in the northeast Pacific and along the West Coast need to continue to be monitored closely, as that could have a major influence on the pattern this winter across the U.S. For those that are interested in further study, I encourage you to look at the El Niño winters that actually had cooler waters in the northeast Pacific and along the West Coast (a -PDO), which is the exact opposite of what is likely going to be in place this upcoming winter. A cold PDO during an El Nino winter is actually quite rare, but it shows you how the waters in that region can have a big influence on the U.S. pattern, despite an El Nino being in place. I have always found it helpful to study the opposite scenario in order to make good comparisons.

December could end up being warmer for most of the United States with a flip to a much colder pattern in January and February in the eastern U.S. Even with a warmer December, that doesn’t mean an inactive pattern with very little snow or ice for that month, but the most notable part of winter will likely be in January and February. Of course, that’s subject to change.

I didn’t really discuss what’s currently going on in the Atlantic and how that could influence this upcoming winter, but I will next Sunday. Predicting if there will be blocking over Greenland (a -NAO) is difficult, if not impossible, this far in advance. I will try to show you what could happen though.

It has been more difficult this year to find previous winters that are similar to what could occur this upcoming winter. I have particularly been studying the 1957-58, 1986-87, and 2002-03 winters, but be careful not to just combine all of those together and expect that to be what happens next winter. I usually talk about a lot of the research that I do in my newsletter, which I encourage you to sign up for by clicking here. I also update Facebook and Twitter daily.

Thanks for taking the time to read this early winter forecast, and don’t forget to check out the very in-depth discussion on this winter that will be coming out next Sunday (July 26th). It will be a pretty heavy read, but nothing that you can’t handle! See you there.

More Texas & Oklahoma Flooding That Will Spread Northeast

3 Day Rainfall Map

I am going to keep tonight’s update brief since I sent out a reasonably detailed newsletter last night, which hopefully most of you have already read by now. As soon as I hit the send button last night, I realized that I forgot to include a couple images, so those are included in this update.

Discussion On Potential Flooding From OK/TX Into Central MS Valley/Ohio Valley:

We are reverting back into a similar pattern that many of us became accustomed to last month. Bermuda high pressure is beginning to build back into the Southeast from the Atlantic, which is really going to heat the temperatures back up into 90s across many regions, especially as the week progresses. A cold front currently extends from the Plains up into the Upper Midwest and is going to continue to push southeast before it eventually stalls out by mid-week over the Ohio Valley. It’s not hard to pick out the cold front that extends across the Plains on the current temperature map below.

Current Temperatures

A trough is going to continue to build into the Southwest, which will push pieces of energy into the Southern Plains. As a response to the overall pattern, surface low pressure is going to likely develop by early to mid-week and move across parts of the Texas Panhandle/Oklahoma, dumping copious amounts of rain. It’ll continue to move northeast, pushing heavy rain into southeast Kansas, Missouri, northern Arkansas, and eventually into the Ohio Valley. Luckily, eastern Texas will be dodging all of this rain. I posted WPC’s 3 day rainfall map (in inches) below to give you a better idea of where the heaviest rain could fall.

3 Day Rainfall Map

As you can see, heavy amounts of rain are on the way. There will be some areas that will easily pick up 4 to 6+ inches of rain with locally higher amounts. Flooding must always be taken seriously, and keep in mind that almost all of the regions that will be getting this rain have already gotten flooding rains over the last several weeks.