What kind of winter will we have?

DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) – The winter of 2013-2014 will be one many of us will never forget.  The brutal cold, heavy snow and ice.  Many meteorologists including us here at Storm Team 2 are getting asked “Will this winter be as cold and snowy?”

Long range winter weather forecasts are not as easy as predicting the temperature, cloud cover or rainfall amounts for tomorrow.  There are several factors to consider and a lot of extensive research that needs to be done before a forecast is issued.  Jet stream patterns, sea surface temperatures, El Nino and other oscillations can give clues to what the temperatures and storm tracks may be in a winter.   Solar activity is also considered too.  El Nino is the name for above normal sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean.  For example, during an El Nino the jet stream tends to dip in the Eastern Pacific and brings warmer than normal temperatures in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.

We have looked at three different winter weather forecasts from the Climate Prediction Center (the official government forecast), The Old Farmer’s Almanac and WeatherBell Analytics LLC (a private company with seasoned meteorologists and climatologists).

These forecasts differ a bit but all suggest there will be a weak El Nino pattern developing this winter.  However because this El Nino will be weak it’s not the only factor considered in the winter weather forecast.

The Climate Prediction Center has above normal temperatures for the western U.S., below normal for Texas and equal chances for Ohio during November, December and January.  This means they are forecasting equal chances Ohio could be below, above or near normal for temperatures.  As for precipitation the southern U.S. is above normal while the northern part of Ohio is slightly below normal.   You can view the forecast by clicking here.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac does not reveal its forecast methods and says it relies on a secret formula that includes sunspots.  It is slightly different for Ohio and the Miami Valley.  It has below normal temperatures for November, December and January.  As for snow it’s forecasting above normal snowfall.  You can view the forecast by clicking here.

WeatherBell Analytics is a private company with skilled meteorologists and climatologists like Joe Bastardi and Joe D’Aleo who was a co-founder of the Weather Channel behind the helm.  They see a weak El Nino developing like the Climate Prediction Center.  Their forecast from December, January and February suggest cold temperatures through much of the plains through Ohio.  As for snow their forecast suggests much of the country will be above normal.  Ohio is in a higher than normal bulls eye for above normal snowfall.  You can view the forecast here, there is a registration fee.

There’s a lot that goes into a seasonal forecast and like always weather patterns are difficult to predict.  Signs are pointing to a cold and snowy winter but hopefully it won’t be as bad as it was last year.

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