2011-12 Winter Outlook

The NOAA has released their outlook for the upcoming winter, and things are looking promising for the northern United States. It’s looking like another La Nina year, which essentially means a colder, wetter winter out west and, according to their maps, the northern Midwest along the Canadian border. Take a look at the maps from the NOAA on how they think the winter will pan out:

NOAA Temperature Map

NOAA Temperature Map

NOAA Winter Precipitation Map

NOAA Winter Precipitation Map

And here’s my map, created by overlaying the temperature and precipitation maps, and highlighting where the highest percentages of each intersected. The whiter an area is, the better of a chance of increased snowfall. The darker greys indicate an increased chance of snowfall, just a lower chance of that happening.

2011 2012 US Snow Map

Unfortunately what this didn’t translate to is a snowy winter in the East, specifically New Jersey and the Poconos. The snow looks like it will really be focused along the Canadian border and Great Lakes, which shouldn’t really surprise anyone. The Pocono region fell into the absolutely useless position of having an equal chance of either a warm winter, cold winter, or an average winter.

You know Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine will get their snow, but what will it take for us in the Mid-Atlantic? While the West will be celebrating another La Nina year with 450+ inches of snow, we will need to look north to hope for a Negative Arctic Oscillation, or NAO. The Arctic Oscillation controls what kind of air flows across the Northeast throughout the winter. A Negative Arctic Oscillation is associated with high pressure in the Arctic region, which forces cold air down into the warmer middle latitudes. This in turn makes the middle latitudes colder than normal. A Positive Arctic Oscillation means low pressure in the Arctic, allowing warm air to flow more north than it normally would.

To simplify it, a Negative Arctic Oscillation means colder air is forced down from Canada, and results in below average temperatures. This cycle has played out the past two winters, and has resulted in two of the snowiest winters on record for the South Jersey/Philly area. I think this trend will continue, and the Negative Arctic Oscillation cycle will continue to play out this year, although not as extreme as the past two years. This is based in nothing scientific, and we’re not off to such a great start what with it being 60 degrees late into November. I do think that we’ll see a turn around, and a sharp one by the first week of December. I also think we’ll see a decent amount of snow (for us, at least), around 40″ or so through the winter. The region has already set a rain record this year, and I think the pattern of heavy precipitation will continue. We just need that Negative Arctic Oscillation to kick in, and we’ll be all set for snow. Hopefully the Poconos will see a much more than the city and suburbs, keeping the resorts open for a long year of snowboarding. One can hope, right?

Also, No Shave November is still going strong, and I’m continuing to raise money for the fight against prostate cancer with Movember. If you’d like to donate to my campaign, you can do so here. Any donation is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

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One Response to 2011-12 Winter Outlook

  1. snowboard says:

    Thanks for the weather preview. So excited for the snowboard season!

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