Special Report: Mike's Winter Weather Outlook

Forecasting the weather for the entire winter is not easy. But, over the past 2 years, Mike's forecast has been very close.

The sports analogy here "you're only as good as your last game" is the same in the weather business: "you're only as good as your last forecast."

Forecasting the future is not the same as playing a ballgame, but there are some clues that hopefully will get us close again.

Last winter seemed like a brutal winter, but did you know that we actually had about normal amounts of snow? We ended up with less than 1" more than what we typically get. But, it was a very cold winter, so the snow was on the ground for long periods of time, making it seem snowier.

Right now, I think this winter will be similar, but not quite as cold as last winter. I don't think we can only look at what's been going on around here, because there are many factors that will shape this coming winter.

In fact, we need to look at the entire northern hemisphere as the ocean temperatures are huge factors in steering the air around the globe, both in the Pacific and the Atlantic. One of the biggest factors is the increasing El Nino in the Pacific -- that's the warm water near the equator. If this becomes a strong El Nino, we would have a mild winter, but I still believe it will stay moderate and perhaps even weaken as the season goes on. The temperature pattern in the northern Pacific along with the El Nino should lead to the jet stream going north into western Canada and then diving southward. This pattern would be a warm one for the plains states overall, and I think we'll see some mild air spread into here at times. The Atlantic Ocean though, is set up to produce a "blocking" pattern, which stops systems from moving straight out to sea. This means the storm track will probably be up the eastern seaboard. So get ready to hear all about those big snowstorms in the eastern cities this winter.

There are five autumns from the past that look similar in the overall weather pattern:1963, 69, 76, 77 and 2002. If you were around in the late 70's you know that those 2 winters were absolutely phenomenal, including the blizzard of 1978, when we had a winter total of 172" of snow. We had 129" in the winter before in 1976/77. I doubt that we have a winter like those, but it's not out of the question; they would be a worse case scenario. Because nobody in their right mind would forecast that amount of snow ahead of time, I'm going to throw those numbers out for my final tally. The other three winters were all colder than normal, by 1.8 degrees. And they had an average of 76.6" of snow. Since these numbers are very close to what I forecasted back in early October, I see no reason to change my final forecast.

So here are my numbers for this winter. I believe that we will have a colder than normal winter, by about 2 degrees. That's an average of 25.4 degrees, and not quite as cold as last winter. As for snow, I will stick with a total of 77", which is just a half inch more than normal, and about what we had last winter.

Obviously I'm still a bit concerned about those winters of the late 70's, but those were "special" years that are unlikely to be repeated often in the future.

While we are going to get a touch of wintry weather this Thanksgiving weekend, I think that "real" winter comes early in December.

So, if you're traveling on the roads this weekend, there should not be any major issues due to weather.


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