7/28/2014

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Latest winter outlook not exactly music to snow lovers' ears

Latest winter outlook not exactly music to snow lovers' ears
File photo of Mount Hood Skibowl by EncMstr (Wikimedia Commons).
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It's the third Thursday of the month, and that means it's time for NOAA's Climate Prediction Center to update their seasonal forecasts. And there are a few changes from their predictions from August.

The forecast from August has so far correctly predicted the Northwest would have a warm September. Through Wednesday, the average temperature was running 4.4 degrees ahead of normal in Seattle.

But going into October, it now predicts a rainy start to fall, with above average chances for a wetter than average month, and equal chances for temperature:



That's due to what climate forecasters say are long range model indications of a strong jet stream in our neck of the Pacific.

However, expand the forecasts out to 90 days and now all of a sudden they are picking up a signal indicating slightly greater chances of a warmer than normal late fall and winter across much of the West -- particularly the Southwest, but the western Pacific Northwest is on the edge of the warm bubble.

This is the temperature forecast for November through January but this map is indicative of the other maps that carry through winter:



Forecasters are basing this prediction on a combination of long-range models. (Or, for you techies out there: "The outlook is primarily based on dynamical model guidance from the CFS, NMME and IMME, in addition to the consolidation (CON) tool.")

Should skiers and snow lovers panic?!?

I don't think so. For one, it's still not an El Nino winter, which really seems to be the key to a low snowpack winter. We're still neutral conditions, which tend to come in around average for snowpacks. Second, this is a broad generalization of the west coast with the greatest chances mainly focused in the Desert Southwest. And even winters that technically end up warmer than average can still have some good snow storms.

And I subscribe to the law of averages, and it's very rare Seattle goes back-to-back winters with nearly no snow -- last happening in the winters of 1982-83 and 1983-84. So I, for one, am not going to bury my snow shovel!

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