Weather Blog

Boring now, but could it be a snowy February?

Boring now, but could it be a snowy February?
It's been a rather calm October and it's expected to stay that way into early November. But could that lead to a snowy February?

Jason Phelps seems to think it could happen. He is one of many local "weather statistical geeks" who I chat with via e-mail and he has done quite a bit of research on past climate trends.

Snow fans will be eager to hear what he's discovered this week. Here's what he found:

"This has been a very mild fall and sort of sunny at times...nothing real major like severe storms. I was able to find a couple neutral winters where the equatorial ocean temperatures were near or like one or two tenths of a degree cooler than normal like they are now, and in which there was a mild fall including a sort of mild November. These were 1989/90 and 1961/62...In the 1989/90 winter it snowed 7" in SeaTac in February and some areas received as much as a foot of snow or more, and the snow event lasted a full week. In 1961/62 the SeaTac also had 7" of snow but this time at the very end of February. :)

"I was also looking at something else. The last time SeaTac picked up measurable snow in February was 2001 (8 years ago this coming February!). SeaTac had measurable snow in February 2001, 1996, 1994, 1992, 1990, 1989, 1986, 1985, 1980, 1976, 1972, 1971, 1969, 1963, 1962, 1959, 1957, 1956, 1955, 1950, 1949, and 1948. So, the fact it hasn't snowed measurably at SeaTac in February in 8 years is a record. Also, the time it went six years (which was the previous record) between snowing in February, there was 11" of snow when it finally snowed again in February 1969.

"The fact that it has been eight years since it snowed measurably at SeaTac in February, that this year is a neutral winter, and that it has been sort of a mild fall overall makes me wonder if there may be an interesting February coming :) "

The long range forecast from NOAA for January through March would seem to agree with Jason's findings, showing an above average chance of a below normal temperatures through the winter:


(You can find more of these charts here)

If you want to tie this chart into what I wrote yesterday about long wave patterns, this would seen to suggest a large ridge of high pressure will be dominant over the Great Lakes and extend across the Midwest and East Coast this winter, with another ridge over Alaska, and we would be in the heart of the arctic air spilling down the back side of the Alaska ridge. These charts haven't shown super accuracy over the years, but something for snow fans to chew on.

Now in climate forecasting, just like stocks, "past performance is no guarantee of future profits/snow" but if it does occur, this will be in our archives and Jason can take credit for telling all of us first!