The new NOAA Winter Weather Forecast 2018-2019 is here.
Summer may still be in full swing, but that doesn’t mean that colder weather isn’t on the way. The meteorologists at NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) recently released their early winter weather predictions for the coming 2018-2019 season, and while the early call isn’t the news we were hoping for, you can be sure that we will be following up on all coming forecasts and updating you accordingly. After all, we are still six months out and it’s far too early to make any definitive claim for what winter might bring.
El Niño or La Niña?
El Niño and La Niña are opposite phases of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) cycle. In layman’s terms, the ENSO cycle is a scientific study of the temperature fluctuations between atmospheric and ocean temperatures in the central Pacific. Of these two phases, La Niña is considered to be the cold phase of the ENSO cycle, and El Niño is considered to be the warmer phase. While both phases occur seasonally, historically El Niño is more likely.
When it comes to the winter weather forecast for the 2018-2019 season, the NOAA has reported that there is a 70% chance that we will have an El Niño winter season, meaning early predictions call for a warmer than average winter across the United States.
What does this mean for early winter?
Based on the early prediction for an El Niño winter, the NOAA has predicted that the Pacific Northwest and the Northern Rockies will all see below average to equal chances of precipitation from October through December. However, Colorado, parts of Utah, and the Southern Rockies are all expected to see above-average precipitation for the start of the season. New England is expected to see average precipitation throughout the start of the winter.
While precipitation is expected to fluctuate across the country, the El Niño prediction calls for warmer than average temperatures across the entire country from October through December.
What does this mean for mid-to-late winter?
As winter progresses into January through March, most resorts across the entire country are forecasted to see continued equal to low precipitation averages. However, parts of Alaska and the Southern Rockies are expected to see higher than average precipitation in the second half of the winter.
When it comes to the temperature, the entire country is expected to see warmer than average temps continuing throughout the second half of the season.
Can we trust this early forecast?
While predictions for low precipitation averages and warmer temperatures are undoubtedly startling for all of the powder chasers among us, it’s important to remember that this early forecast is just that, an early forecast. When it comes to on-hill conditions, individual storm cycles and short-term predictions are far more likely to accurately forecast conditions than anything six months out.
Looking at last year’s predictions, we can see that warmer temperatures were predicted across the entire country and that for the most part, held true. This pattern is reflective of the warmer temperature patterns we have been seeing year-round, although it is not to say that colder temperatures will not occur. Those in the mid-west can attest to last season’s cold weather that varied dramatically from what had been initially forecasted.
Last season’s precipitation forecast, on the other hand, called for mostly average precipitation across much of the country, with higher than average precipitation in Colorado and much of the Rockies. This turned out to be incorrect, as Colorado suffered from one of the worst winters in 60 years, while Utah and much of the Pacific Northwest saw average to higher than average precipitation totals.
Long story short? It’s far too early to make any definitive call, and while the early six month predictions don’t look great, there is really no telling what the season will bring. Make sure to check back in the coming months for both the Farmer’s Almanac and Old Farmer’s Almanac weather forecasts, as we will be updating you on every early season prediction as they become available.