I believe a good chunk of the country will have a heat index north of 100 degrees at some point in time this week, so it may feel like an odd juncture to talk about winter weather. NEVER!
Yesterday, I reached out to Michael Clark of BAMWx.com, the Meteorological partners of The Propane Buzz, and asked if he had any early thoughts on climate drivers relative to the upcoming winter. As coincidence would have it, he and his team had been starting to work on that earlier in the week, so Michael had some data in hand to share with us.
PLEASE NOTE, and I cannot stress this enough, these are PRELIMINARY thoughts. In fact, they are the preliminary to the preliminary thoughts. BAM will fine-tune their winter forecast and release their official winter forecast sometime in mid to late October and we will share that with you as well.
Let’s start with this simple (yet complex) premise: what happens in the oceans (water temperatures) has everything to do with the type of winter weather we will have. Think of having a fan in your house, and think of that fan being turned on and in front of the fan, you have a block of ice. Think of the ice as the ocean and the wind generated by the fan as the jet stream and other surface area winds. Now think of the same thing but instead of a block of ice, you have water heated up that is warmer than room temperature and can remain at that warmer state for extended periods of time. This is a simplistic way of thinking about how the oceans impact North American winters….if the ocean waters are cooler in some areas, it’s going to have a cooling effect. If they are warmer in some areas, it can have a warming effect….but not always…let me explain that a bit more below.
So the first thing Michael share was that the climate driving forces they are favoring right now for this winter, meaning the aspects to climate that seem most likely to be present with us this winter are a La Nina state as well as a negative QBO. QBO stands for Quasi-Biennial Oscillation
. What this is is an oscillation in the wind direction in the stratosphere within roughly 15 degrees of the equators. A La Nina state is when equatorial waters in a region just west of South America are colder than normal. When Clark plugged these two climate drivers into the history comparison machine (analogs), this is the resulting overlay of what has been experienced in the past: