10-14-2009 UPDATE: Accuweather's Joe Bastardi released his updated winter forecast. See it here.
UPDATE: Joe was recently interviewed and wrote an open letter to Accuweather viewers about Global Warming/Climate Change. Find out more.
Accuweather's Chief Meteorologist and Expert Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi has released an early prediction for this coming winter. In fact, he believes that this winter will be the "Snowiest in Over 5 Years NYC to D.C.". If you've read my blog long enough you know I really respect Joe Bastardi's forecasting skills and insights. I firmly believe he is one of the best forecasters out there. You can watch the interview with Joe or read some highlights from the article below.
Parts of the country have had a cool summer:
This summer has been unusually cool across the Northeast, northern Plains and parts of the West. Places like New York City and Philadelphia, which are typically warm and humid this time of year, have had relatively cool and wet weather instead.Has there been one single factor causing this? Joe says no.
While no single factor is taking responsibility for the unusually cool weather, the combination of El Niño and worldwide volcanic activity over the past six to nine months may have played a role in causing this trend. The El Niño is a global atmospheric event that takes place over the equatorial tropical Pacific Ocean. The warming of the waters in that area can result in pattern changes globally, having a major effect on the weather across the United Sates, especially during the winter months.This is just the summer. Is there really a possible connection between a cool summer and a snowy winter?
In years past, cooler summers have been followed by harsh winters. Temperatures in New York City did not top 85 degrees in June this year. There have only been three other times in recorded history when New York City failed to reach 85 in June. In each of those instances, snowy winters followed.It appears there could be a precedent for this type of weather patter. Joe often refers to analog years when making seasonal forecasts. He believes, as do I, that previous patterns and outcomes can often predict what will happen. In this case, cool summer followed by a snowy winter.
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Chicago had 12 days in June when temperatures did not exceed 70 degrees. This has happened only one other time in 1969. That year was followed by a snowy winter as well.
The middle part of the article covers what we might expect during the remaining part of the summer. Mainly, the areas experiencing a cool summer now will warm up some before cool weather returns. The other areas of the country will continue to experience similar weather to what they've had already this summer. Later, the Southeast and Gulf coasts should be wary of quick forming tropical systems.
Anyway, focusing back on the winter. Joe says:
The areas that will be hit hardest this winter by cold, snowy weather will be from New England through the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, including North Carolina. Areas from New York City to Raleigh have gotten by the past two years with very little snowfall. This year these areas could end up with above-normal snowfall.
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While some parts of the Appalachians did have harsh winter weather in the form of ice last year, this winter could be one of the snowiest since 2002-03, when up to 80 inches fell in many places. Snowfall totals this year could reach between 50 and 100 inches. Last winter, the usage of salt was way up due to the number of ice storms. Salt supplies could be compromised again this year for state and local road crews that battle the winter weather. On the other hand, ski resorts could have a great year with plenty of powder for skiers.
Bastardi adds that the overall weather pattern that has prevailed this summer is pointing to a winter very similar to that of 2002-03, when major cities on the East Coast had above-average snowfall. Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity points out that in February of 2003, a major snowstorm paralyzed much of the Interstate 95 corridor, including New York City and Philadelphia. During the storm, airports were closed, roads were impassable, roofs collapsed and some schools were closed for a week, causing summer vacations to start late.
The storm track that could develop this year will bring storms up the Eastern Seaboard. This type of storm track will differ from that of the past two years, when storms tended to take a track farther west from Texas into the Great Lakes. That track into the Great Lakes brought unseasonably mild weather to the major East Coast cities, keeping them on the more rainy side of the storms. The track this year right along the Eastern Seaboard would put the major cities on the cold, wintry side of the storms.
A colder, snowier winter would mean an increase in energy bills, added snow removal efforts, more travel delays and extended school closures.
The Midwest and central Plains, which have been hit hard the past two winters, may end up with a lack of snowfall this year. Places like Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis and Kansas City may have below-normal snowfall and could even average a bit milder than past years.
A warm and somewhat dry weather pattern is expected from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Plains. The typical barrage of winter storms that hit Seattle and Portland may not occur this winter and lead to below-normal precipitation.
The below-normal precipitation predicted for the Pacific Northwest could have "extended and severe ramifications" on the economy in a region that relies heavily on winter precipitation, according to Expert Senior Meteorologist Ken Reeves.
"A less stormy track through the Pacific Northwest, while on the surface may seem like a good thing, it is actually the opposite," Reeves said. "Winter snows supply water to the region throughout the year and also supply a significant portion of their power needs. About 70 percent of electric power generation in the Northwest comes from hydro sources."
The Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, from Feb. 12 to 28 could be impacted by the lack of snow and cold weather this winter.
A storm track into California and the Southwest means near-normal rainfall for Southern California. While some people across Southern California fear the El Niño will bring harsh storms to the region, the fading of the El Niño will lessen that risk and provide near-normal rainfall.
Of course, none of us will know how this coming winter will really be until it gets here. Personally, I would like to see some more snow and cold this year. We really haven't had decent snow (for the Charlotte, NC metro area) in 2-3 years.
I'm hoping Joe's right.