The leaves are falling and the days are getting shorter. Pretty soon the snowflakes and howling winds of Old Man Winter will materialize. The 2018-2019 Winter Forecast is here to show you where the warm, wet, cold, snowy and dry weather is likely.
How Did We Do Last Year?
Pretty good! You’ll almost never find a perfect seasonal forecast, but is the general placement of where cold and warm close to what actually happened? Check! Overall a the 2017 forecast hit on the big cold into the Plains and Midwest (just was too far east) and the SW and SE warmth.
WATCH our detailed outlook for the winter ahead. We dive into maps that show how the pattern develops across America and what’s in store for every region of the country.
A weak El Niño is setting up right on schedule. Overall an El Niño is warmer than average seas surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean along the equator. This year something a little special might setup. That’s a Modiki El Niño. This means those warm water temperatures might be centered closer to the central Pacific. More often than not colder than normal temperatures happen across the eastern half of the United States with this setup.
There’s many more atmospheric and oceanic patterns we look at besides El Niño. Some of these can’t full be predicted until a couple of weeks out. So we look at what they are most likely to do based off other global factors.
The QBO (Quasi-Biennial Oscillation) is a measure of zonal winds near the equator. It’s been negative for several months and has contributed to the warm summer somewhat. The QBO is changing to a more westerly and positive phase. This typically discourages high latitude blocking and stratospheric warming (both ingredients that promote cold blasts).
The MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation) is a thunderstorm pattern in the tropics. It does not have a very specific and clear trend. It might bounce through different phases and promote waves of warm and cool weather in spots.
We are entering a grand solar minimum. This means the sunspot cycle is very low. Typically colder winters are common with this regime.
The EPO is causing very warm temperatures and ridging off the Gulf of Alaska. This promotes a corridor of high pressure in the Pacific Northwest with troughing and cold air dumps further east.
Warm Northwest & Cool Southeast
Looking at several of these teleconnections you can see some are more supportive for cool and some not so much. Good confidence is present on an active jet stream across the southern US. This allows for more clouds and precipitation, which should keep temperatures down. Warmth is likely across the Northwest and maybe eastward into the western Great Lakes.
Overall this winter might be slow to get going. December might be warmer than average across much of the northern half. Will there be cold and snow? Yes a few shots of Arctic air can still happen, but might be more brief.
January should see cold and snow events into Dallas, Atlanta and Charlotte. A battle of temperatures exist across the interior Northeast back into the Midwest.
The main winter show rocks across East in February. Several Arctic blasts seem likely. Winter storm location will really depend on where the jet streams come together and low pressure systems develop. The main track this winter is likely across the Deep South and towards the East Coast as nor’easters. A few Midwest Maulers and Panhandle Hooks could be more common the second half of winter.
Overall drier weather sets up across the Northwest and across parts of the Great Lakes and Midwest. Lake effect snow could be intense at times early, but overall the snow belts might see near average to a little less snow. The moist area is mainly south and east. Mix that with colder than average temperatures and we could be looking at notable snow events into Louisiana, Florida and the Carolinas.
Many times in the past these type of weather patterns produce above average snow for Washington D.C., New York City and Boston. A big wildcard in getting East Coast storms is high latitude blocking. A high pressure pattern (-NAO) near Greenland is normally very helpful in stopping storms from just going out into the Atlantic Ocean. Some factors promote the North Atlantic Oscillation going negative and helping I-95 corridor snows.
Overall expect more cold and snow in the Mid Atlantic, Southeast and southern Plains. Many warm and dry periods are likely in the Northwest. Southern California into the Ohio Valley will be more of a battle zone.
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