If you've been following my blog here over the past few months, you've seen the forecasts that show a greater than average odds of a warmer-than-normal winter.
The forecasts were based on an expected El Nino event to develop this winter, along with warmer-than-normal water temperatures in the northern Pacific Ocean.
Well, guess what. The new monthly forecasts updated last week not only say the same thing, but now the confidence in the forecast has grown.
The shading on the maps indicate how much greater than a baseline chance each scenario has for coming true. The maps start at even -- "EC" meaning 33% colder than normal, 33% chance warmer than normal and 33% within statistical reason of normal. On the temperature map, the browns indicate higher chances of warmer than normal temperatures, with the darker the shade, the greater the confidence. Blues are cooler than normal. For rain maps: Green is wetter; brown is drier.
If we just look at October, we can see a big warm signal across the West (and the East) with a significant dry signal across the Pacific Northwest as well:
But it's when we get into the heart of winter that confidence now really soars.
Here is the new Jan-March forecast:
That dark red warm signal is about as strong a signal as forecasters give for the 90 day forecasts. Translated, it says whopping 56% chance of warmer than normal temperatures overall through the period with just a 15% chance of a colder than normal winter (29% normal winter). And what's worse for skiers, most of the other maps that span time before and after those three months really don't look a whole lot different:
For those of you who prefer actual numbers, here are those months spelled out in table format for Seattle:
And here's the precipitation outlook -- dry, dry, dry:
Now, as I wrote earlier this month this doesn't mean it'll be 70-80 degrees this winter -- but past winters as warm as the forecasted one have had several days in the 50s in the heart of winter and just a handful of nights below freezing. And mountain snowpack has been far below normal in those years.
It's not a slam dunk, but it's looking more and more like a layup -- perhaps a free throw at worst....