It’s not easy to put together a weather forecast for winter this far out, but some folks toss their hats into the ring…and some have proven to be more right than others.
If you have followed this blog for any length of time, you know that I am a fan of Joe Bastardi of www.WeatherBELL.com (a pay site, by and large), formerly of AccuWeather.com. To use one of Joe’s favorite sayings, you tend to see what you shine your light on and Joe loves cold and snowy winters. That said, I have found him to be as good as there is in predicting winters, or offering significant clues, far in advance.
Here is what they predicted for the winter of 2014-2015 IN APRIL of 2014:
The snowfall prediction was a great hit while the core of the cold would be farther east and northeast.
I looked at ten or more winter predictions last year and shared many of them. WeatherBell’s forecast was one of the best and all the more impressive given that they issued the forecast in April, five or six months in advance of when most other outlets issued their forecasts in October and November. This includes the National Weather Service forecast, issued in November, which was a horrible miss.
WeatherBELL hasn’t released their 2015-2016 forecast just yet, but I expect it to come out soon. What Bastardi has been doing is sharing signatures of the coming winter.
In an article Bastardi published last week, he talked about the October Siberian Snowfall factor that we have discussed. You can get more familiar with it at this link. Dr. Judah Cohen believes the more snowfall in Siberia early in the winter, the colder/snowier the winter will be for the eastern half of the United States.
Bastardi believes that snowfall harbinger is actually a symptom of conditions, not a cause…meaning that elements were already in place that led to the large Siberian snowfall totals, elements that lead to a colder/snowier winter…and that the Siberian snowfall is an indicator of a larger scheme.
One of those ‘larger scheme’ drivers are SST’s, or Sea Surface Temperatures, in the Pacific. When you have warmer waters around the Pacific Coast, and I mean from Alaska all the way down to the Mexican Pacific Coast, you stand a chance for a ‘good’ winter…good as in what we in the propane business want to see. This is just one driver, but a very important one.
I posted the following on February 20th here on the blog, followed by an explanation in italics:
The AMO is the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation. It’s typically defined by Sea Surface Temperatures patters (SST’s) in the North Atlantic. As you can see from the image above, the JAMSTEC model (the primary global source for SST projections) is thinking the waters of the North Atlantic project to be below normal (Colder) for SON201 (September, October and November of 2015). At the same time, it’s pegging SST’s in the Pacific to be WARMER than normal…and that type of set up has typically translated into a cold winter.
So we have that significant driver in our favor.
Then on April 13th, Bastardi made a post titled ‘CFSV2 SEEING BIG EURASIAN SNOWFALL IN FALL?’ The CFSV2 is the Climate Forecasting System.
Here is a small snippet from Bastardi’s post:
“…a ring of warmth with a central Pacific-centered warm ENSO, is a signal for a cold winter over the eastern US, with variances that determine how cold it will be further west…the pattern looks to me like it will go the way of eastern winter weather lovers one more time…”
Bastardi concluded this recent item saying that if we see a lot of snow this fall over Eurasia, it will confirm the ideas of another cold/snowy winter that are beginning to form.
Go back to the JAMSTEC MAJOR CLIMATE AMO BOMB graphic from above and notice the reds along the Pacific…this is warmer water, fuel for ridging in the west and troughs in the east, which gives us the cold we want. Just where those ridges set up impacts the location of the coldest air in the east. Two winters ago, we had ridging in the Gulf of Alaska so the cold was further west, across the Plains and Ohio Valley. This past winter the ridging was farther to the East (still very much in Western North America) and the cold was pushed farther East, across the Northeast here in the states and as far west as Ohio. The Southeast also had a cold winter.
Notice the pool of blue in that graphic above (the JAMSTEC graphic). Cooler waters in the Atlantic off the east coast of the United States would mean less fuel for snowstorms, so an early tell might be a cold winter for us, but not as much precipitation.
After this past winter, I don’t think folks in the Northeast would mind that combination; cold and dry.
I want to add this ‘disclaimer’; these are early indicators. Things can change and sometimes do. We are experiencing an El Nino right now and if it persists into late fall and early winter, it would have an effect on how early the cold could start here in the states.
That said, Bastardi has nailed the past two winters from very far out. I have a great deal of respect for his forecasting skills and believe he is the best in the business. This information is worth filing away as you think towards the winter of 2015-2016. With propane values where they are, I really don’t think anyone is going to get hurt locking in a portion of their supply; the downside risk is exponentially smaller this year than it was one year ago.
BY THE WAY: Here is a fun link to an item that ‘graded’ several different winter forecasts from this past year.