Friday, September 9, 2016

Winter Will Be Colder Than Last Year, But Other Than That, Who The Hell Knows?

I don't have any clue what the weather will be like
this winter in Vermont and neither does anybody else.
We're finally going to get some belated September cold fronts Sunday and next week here in Vermont, so the air will finally have an autummal feel to it, at least on some days next week.

Which means, of course winter is coming. You didn't think this ever lasting summer would actually last forever, did you?

The big pasttime this time of year is to predict what this winter will be like. Cold? snowy? All over the place?

The bitter truth is nobody has a clue as to what this winter will be like here in Vermont or anywhere else for that matter. As I've said before, long range forecasts are very iffy indeed.

I can pretty much guarantee this coming winter will be colder than last winter. That's because the winter of 2015-16 was easily the warmest on record in Vermont. It's hard to get warmer than that, what with temperatures last Christmas Eve around 70 degrees.

Other than that, who knows what's in store for winter in Vermont for 2016-17.

I'm going to shamelessly rip off Capital Weather Gang, which told us what could happen around Washington DC this winter, and I can extend that by offering a couple scenarios for the upcoming winter in Vermont.

Just understand this is NOT a forecast. Just speculation.

Last winter's warmth was influenced by El Nino, a periodic warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean waters that influences weather world wide.

The thought was there would be a La Nina in that region this winter, which is a periodic cooling of that water.

But now, the prospect of a La Nina has turned iffy at best. The guess is the water temperature in the eastern Pacific will be kind of close to normal. Which doesn't give us any clues whatsoever as to what the weather will be like this winter. Especially since it's still possible that La Nina will develop.

Even if we were sure La Nina would develop, it wouldn't tell us everything. Winters in Vermont sometimes tend to be colder when there's a La Nina, but that doesn't always happen. Again, it's a guessing game.

Another interesting thing is what might be the return of "the blob" in the northern Pacific Ocean.

The blob, famously, was, or perhaps is,  a patch of unusually warm water off the west coast of the Pacific Northwest and the west coast of Canada, and just south of Alaska.

That blob helped create a ridge of high pressure along the western side of North America in the winters of 2014 and 2015.  It deflected storms away from California, which worsened the drought there. It's still dry in California, so a return of the blob would be terrible news or the Golden State.

It's not great for us here in Vermont, either, if you don't like cold weather. That ridge of high pressure in the western United States has a corresponding dip in the jet stream over the Midwest and Northeast.

That would mean repeated shots of bitter Arctic air into New England. Not good for the fuel bill, eh?

The water in the northern Pacific Ocean is now abnormally warm, which hints at the blob's possible return, but it might not last. Who knows? And even if the blob forms, it's no guarantee we'll have a cold winter in New England. It would just increase the chances of it.

By the way, don't rely on the Old Farmer's Almanac to tell you what this winter 's going to be like. I'm not criticizing the Almanac, because it's a lot of fun. It's just that the forecasts they give are no better than rolling a dice to get a winter prediction. Don't take it as gospel, please.

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