CONTEST STATUS - Updated: SAT ... 17-APR-21 @ 5 PM EDT

Winter '20 / '21 - Snowfall Forecast Contests
22nd Annual 'Snow Storm' Snowfall Forecast Contest
FINAL results here

20th Annual 'Season-total' Snowfall Forecast Contest
FINAL results here

DEC snowfall totals here
JAN snowfall totals here
FEB snowfall totals here
MAR snowfall totals here

Winter '19 / '20 - Snowfall Forecast Contests
21st Annual 'Snow Storm' Snowfall Forecast Contest
Season ended as quickly as it started.
No winner this go'round ... too few storms (minimum of three required)

19th Annual 'Season-total' Snowfall Forecast Contest
FINAL Results here

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - Quasi-biennial Oscillation

The Quasi-biennial Oscillation (QBO) is characterized by alternating easterly and westerly descending wind regimes at the equator. It dominates the variability of the tropical stratosphere. Although the QBO is a tropical affects the stratospheric flow from pole to pole by modulating the effects of extra-tropical waves. [M. P. Baldwin, 2001 (.pdf)]

The period of oscillation varies between 20 and 36 months...with an average period of about 28 measured over the past half-century. The QBO index at each stratospheric level is the zonally-averaged zonal (east-west) wind. It is the most predictable inter-annual climate fluctuation on the planet.

August QBO @30mb is -14.46 (data)...three months into its nascent easterly phase. It/s expected to remain easterly through spring 2010...reaching its peak amplitude (< -25) during the heart of meteorological winter.

QBO is important b/c it determines the character of the early winter. The east phase leads to a more disturbed and warmer Arctic in December and January. During winter...QBO appears to excite the 'northern annular mode' (aka Arctic Oscillation [Thompson and Wallace, 1998 (.pdf), 2000]. Its easterly phase is represented in composites geo-potential...wind...and temperature fields by a weaker polar vortex (PV)...warmer polar temperatures...and higher geo-potential heights at hi-latitudes. In years with low solar activity...the winter PV tends to be disturbed and weak when the QBO is easterly.

Monthly sunspot activity YTD (data) has been anomalously quiet (lowest 10th percentile) 24 of the past 32 months and every month since April 2008. Top-5 sunspot analog years: 1913...1823...1811...1810...1912.

Reconstructed NAO index (Li) for '12/'13 is 1.44 and '13/'14 is 1.63... neither of which lend any support to a correlation between weak PVs with its implied -AO/-NAO and extremely low sunspot activity.

Top-5 sunspot analogs for years beginning 1950 and their D-J-F AO/NAO: 2008 (0.259/-0.08)...1954 (-0.717/-0.76)...1996 (-0.096/-0.07)...1964 (-1.125/-0.61)...1976 (-2.617/-1.04) supports the correlation.

Polar temperature varies out of phase with sunspot activity (low sunspot activity ==> warmer temperature ==> higher geo-potential heights) for winters when the QBO is easterly. Weak...'warm' PVs are less able to contain arctic air masses at hi-latitudes than cold...strong...less disturbed PVs. This suggests potentially favorable conditions this winter for arctic outbreaks leading to strong baroclinic zones developing between land and water which represent prime conditions for cyclogenesis and block-buster Nor'easters.

Easterly QBO also favors the occurrence of major winter stratospheric warmings [Holton and Tan (1980)(.pdf)]. Stratosphere warmings propagate from 10mb to the surface in ~3 weeks. Should such a warming occur mid-winter during QBO could very well signal a cold end to meteorological winter.
Should QBO play a dominant role this winter...

  • Easterly phase during low solar activity ==> favors weak PV
  • Weak PV ==> high heights @ hi-latitudes
  • High heights @ hi-latitudes ==> negative northern annular modes (-AO / -NAO)
  • -AO / -NAO ==> arctic outbreaks + increased east coast snowfalls
  • Easterly phase favors major stratospheric warmings ==> lagged arctic outbreaks

QBO analogs YTD.

1991 is currently the leading analog. Winter '91 / '92 featured +ENSO (albeit one that became strong by spring)...+AO...+NAO...and -SOI...all of which go against type for -QBO. Did anonymously high (96th percentile) monthly sunspots play an active and deciding role?

EDIT: corrected sign of Winter '91 SOI.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - No Negative NAO

Eastern snow crows are often heard aching for a negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) come winter b/c of its negative correlation to season-total snowfall. Winters where the NAO is...on average...negative (positive)...higher (lower) snowfalls and colder (milder) temperature are more likely.

Buzz-killing evidence is beginning to mount that is sure to disappoint those pining for predictions of a coming negative NAO.

The Developing Case Against Negative NAO

1) The British MET Office's 'positive NAO' forecast is based on SST anomalies in the Northern Atlantic during the month of May. The technique's correlation skill is about 0.45 with the correct sign of the NAO predicted for 66% of all winters. Details here.

2) Trend analysis supports a positive NAO this winter. NAO/s yearly 'winter' average (D-J-F-M) has been positive 21 out of the last 26 years. NAO/s five-year moving-average for the same four months has been positive every year since 1983. Data.

3) Analog years point to positive NAO this winter. NAO has been negative five months this year...three of which occured during meteorological summer. This was also the case the past two summers. July observed its third lowest value (-2.15) since 1950.

Analog years selected using a 'least-squares' regression technique (shown below) are 2007...2000... 1956...1999...and 1974. Monthly NAO values for the analog years are displayed through year/s end.

When monthly NAO index values for the analog years are extended through the winter months of D-J-F...three of the five analog years had a positive monthly NAO index. One analog year/s NAO monthly index was positive during J-F. Another analog year/s NAO monthly index was positive during D-J. NAO analog analysis does not support a forecast for negative NAO this winter. Similar story from the Arctic Oscillation (AO).

4) Contravening evidence is found in the Quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO)...which is beginning its negative phase and will persist throughout the coming winter. QBO/s east phase and solar minimums are correlated with positive high-latitude height anomalies. More about this winter/s QBO here.

Negative NAO is not a be all and end all for decent season-total snows...nor is it required for severe winter storms along the eastern seaboard. NAO was positive when The 'Storm of the Century' raked the east coast in mid-March of 1993.

Positive NAO image courtesy Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory...Columbia U.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - AccuWeather - Update

Joe Bastardi...Senior Meteorologist:
"...similar historic weather trends...could herald a bitterly cold winter, particularly for the Northeast and South.

"The closest comparison we’re using for this upcoming winter is the 2002-03 winter season..." Then you have the extreme case of the 1977-78 winter, which is also a possibility. The latter winter held the record for subfreezing temperatures for an unrelenting 51 days."
The Market Oracle

Winter '09 / '10 - Commodity Weather Group

Matt Rogers...Meteorologist:
"Some forecasters see the potential for the coldest US winter in a decade. "We do think there are opportunities for a potentially colder than normal winter coming up, one of the coldest we've seen in the past decade,"...
The Market Oracle

Friday, September 18, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - CPC Outlook (SEPT)

CPC/s 2.5 month long-lead forecast for D-J-F...issued yesterday...continues to reflect their expectation for a strengthening an el Niño event. Last month/s outlook here.

A moderate strength +ENSO event (3-month SSTa between 1°C and 1.5°C) now supported by 11 dynamic and statistical forecast models...up from 9 models in August. This may be a result of the 12-week moving average in Niño 3.4 (data) having reached +0.84°C following three weeks of +0.9°C.

+ENSO favor above-normal snowfall over the mid-Atlantic...especially along coastal regions and northern New England. Throw in an easterly QBO...which favors positive height anomalies at high latitudes during solar minimums...and the ingredients for good snows are beginning to come together.

Climate Prediction Center/s 'ENSO Impact' page here.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - AccuWeather

Joe Bastardi, Chief Hurricane and Long-range Forecaster:

*Chance of colder winter in Northeast, Europe and Far East
*Midwest outlook warmer than last year

"Not only does it have a chance to be colder in the U.S. Northeast but also in the Far East and probably Europe.

"But the EL Nino is not really 'causing' anything in my view. It's a by-product of larger scale forces going on, some of them cyclical, like very low Sun spot activity, which can cause a decrease in radiation from the Sun. This weaker El Nino could fade, as it did in '06-'07, when we went from one of the warmest winters to very cold.

"I expect New York and Washington D.C. to have more snow and to be colder. I'm expecting it to be colder than last year in southern New England more than in the northern part.

"The Midwest should be warmer, like in Ohio and the parts that got blasted with so much snow last year."

Winter '09 / '10 - Earthsat

Travis Hartman, Energy Weather Manager:

*December and January warmer than normal, but cooler than the average over the past 10 years
*February temps to fall below normal, including along the eastern seaboard.

"We see the main driver for the winter being a moderate strength El Nino in the central tropical Pacific. With that we see a propensity for warmer-than-normal temperatures -- normal being the 30 year normal from 1971 to 2000 -- across the northern U.S. tier, specifically the Northern Plains, the Midwest and the Great Lakes region."

Winter '09 / '10 - DTN Meteorlogix

*El Nino to drive the weather pattern
*Mild in Northwest, Central Plains and Great Lakes
*Southern parts of the country to be cooler
*Severe winter storms expected on the East Coast

"An El Nino should remain in place through the winter season in contrast to the previous two winters when La Nina conditions prevailed in the Pacific Ocean.

"The mild and drier weather that occurred across the southern U.S. will switch toward a cooler and wetter pattern this year. In contrast the cold and snowy conditions that frequented the northwest and north central states will turn milder and less snowy for the 2009-10 season.

"The threat for several strong East Coast storms will be back this year after a recent quieter period."

Winter '09 / '10 - Planalytics

'Private weather service providers' (PWSP) have begun issuing their outlooks for the coming winter.

Jim Rouiller, Meteorologist:

*El Niño and NAO to drive weather pattern
*Generally cold start to winter, with milder finish
*Northeast to average normal temps, with swings and storms
*Midwest cold blasts expected early on, then turning milder
*Southern parts of the country generally cooler
"There will be a cold start with a milder finish. Its really going to hit hard as we head into November.
"I also see a trend toward more storminess along the eastern seaboard this winter. I sense that in January the North Atlantic Oscillation will be negative which means that once blocking gets established over the north Atlantic it tends to relate to increased troughs over the East. That can mean periodic shots of very cold air and establish a storm trend, which means a higher snowstorm threat.

"The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will average out close to normal, but it will be associated with radical temperature swings where we'll get a few days of extreme cold followed by milder air. We expect some very intense cold shots."

Monday, September 14, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - Larry Cosgrove

Preeminent synoptic meteorologist Larry Cosgrove discusses current flow regimes... patterns...trends and their potential impact on the coming winter in his latest newsletter.

"Since we have not yet settled into calendar autumn, it is unwise to make an absolute prediction for the upcoming winter season. But the character of the El Niño Southern Oscillation, which will dominate the course of weather in upcoming months, seems to be visible.

"Unlike a "typical El Niño" (if indeed there is such a thing), there have been NO signs of a true split flow in the polar westerlies. The northern branch has been dominant, even showing signs of buckling with Rex and Omega formations in Alaska, Canada, and Greenland (although the recent development of a North American theater +AO signature is a major break from the summer pattern). The fledgling lower latitude stream arises from the very warm waters adjacent to Mexico, running well south of California. This is one of the reasons that I think the Golden State will have its driest +ENSO since 1976-77, and Dixie and the East Coast are in line to get a very active "Miller A" type storm track."


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Arctic Sea Ice - SEP '09

The extent of arctic sea ice at the end of meteorological summer remains abnormally low (> 2 STD below 1979 - 2000 mean); however...not as dire as the two previous years.

Image courtesy National Snow and Ice Data Center

Winter '09 / '10 - Expecting el Niño

NOAA/s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) expects a moderate to strong el Niño during the upcoming winter (3-month Niño-3.4 SST index of +1.0°C or greater)...which suggests a good chance for above-average precipitation along most of the East Coast.

"Warm Event Winter" image courtesy COAPS

The 3-month moving average SST anomalies in region 3.4 are currently 0.9°C.

CPC/s 3.5-month long-lead forecast for temperature and precipitation...issued AUG 20...reflect elements of an el Niño event.

Complicating the impact of el Niño on the winter's forecast will be the PDO...which is 23 months and four 'years' (OCT - MAR) into a negative phase. -PDO correlates to above normal heights over the SE CONUS...which could keep the primary storm track away from the coast.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - Weather Trends International

"For a year now, WTI has been projecting a more typical El Nino Winter pattern with the active jet stream split along the Southern tier of the U.S. bringing a lot of rain to the parched Southwest and Texas with the other jet stream well up in Canada with only occasional very cold snaps for the later half of Winter.

"This also suggests an active threat for the East Coast for a few Nor’easters with snowfall up 30% to 100% over last year for the major cities from Washington D.C. to Boston, less well inland. In this case we agree with the Almanac forecast along with the potential for a brutal February and March in terms of late Winter cold and bigger snow events."

Winter '09 / '10 - Old Farmer's Almanac

"Winter will be colder than normal, on average, especially north of the Chesapeake Bay. The coldest periods will occur in early to mid- and late January and mid-February.

"While precipitation will be below normal, slightly above-normal snowfall will occur in many parts of the region. Watch for snow around Thanksgiving, with other snowy periods in mid-January and mid- and late February."

Beginning to hear a little chatter about NOV snows. Last time there was a contest-worthy snow-storm was November 27, 2002.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Moscow Mayor Seeks to Banish Snow from City Limits

"Yuri Luzhkov has said that snow should be banished from Moscow in winter to save money and improve life in the city. He claimed that farmers outside the capital would enjoy more abundant harvests if his cloud-seeding programme was adopted.

"A programme to manage the weather would cost only a third of the amount spent on snowploughs and round-the-clock clearance operations. City authorities send 2,500 snowploughs into action to clear snow, and employ an army of 50,000 workers to clear Moscow’s streets and pavements.

"There are other risks: a 25kg (55lb) bag of cement crashed through the roof of a Moscow home last year as an air force cargo aircraft carried out a cloud-seeding operation. Officials said that the bag had “failed to pulverise completely at high altitude”."

Apparently...the Chinese are doing the same thing. Cash-strapped municipalities in New England might want to look into well.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Winter '09 / '10 - NAO Forecast - MET Office

The UKMET Office...the British version of the US NWS...produces a statistical NAO forecast (reg. reqd.) for the upcoming winter.

The forecast for 500 mb heights is based on an analysis of observed and the 'predictor pattern' of SST anomalies in the northern Atlantic Ocean during the month of May.

"By taking the observed SST anomaly for May (figure at left) and calculating how it projects onto the predictor pattern we can make a prediction for the winter NAO. If the projection is positive (i.e. the anomaly pattern looks similar to the predictor pattern shown below) then the prediction is for a positive winter NAO. Conversely, if the observed May SST anomaly projects negatively onto the predictor pattern (i.e. it looks like the reverse of the predictor pattern) then we would predict a negative NAO."

There's a weakly negative statistical correlation between season-total snowfall in New England and the Mid-Atlantic regions and the NAO. This association is often mis-applied to individual storm systems -- if we could just get the NAO to turn negative...then we're more likely to get snow.

NAO forecast was quite good last year. Snow crows hope it's not as advertised this winter.

Thursday, September 3, 2009