Wet May will give way to humidity and summerlike temperatures as we enter June

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After a very active May, the weather pattern slows down and warms up as we enter June.  Cloudy grey skies over the weekend will clear on Monday and we’ll start on a cool note, before temperatures and the humidity  rise mid week and beyond.  Be sure the A/C is working as we’re going to be needing it after Wednesday.  Highs in the low-mid 80s and lows in the 65-70 degree range are expected. Rain chances will be much more scattered, and they will be tied to thunderstorm clusters which form on the Front Range each afternoon and track east and southeast each night.  Right now, that train of storm clusters is likely to run from MT/WY/CO through the Dakotas into NE/MN and IA, but these may trend a little further south than forecast right now.  This will be one of those typical mid summer patterns where these clusters roll off the high terrain in the evening and whatever’s left over approaches or passes through overnight or in the morning.  That’s more likely for us late in the week, while early in the week, we will likely see periods of high clouds (blowoff from the distant storms) mainly each morning and early afternoon, so 100% sunny days all week are not anticipated either, but at least we’ll have at least the first half of the week rain-free.  No organized or major severe weather outbreaks are anticipated either, as those will be mainly near where the storms form along the front range.  Late this week there will be the potential for some of the clusters to give us some gusty winds if they remain strong enough as they reach our area.

2015-05-31-1005-7DAY_RAIN

May in Review:

Most notable for May was the rainfall.  The western district had 7-11″ of rain, with Kansas City International reporting the sixth wettest May on record with 10.25″ of rainfall.  10.29″ marked the 5th wettest May in 1996.  Additionally, there has not been 10″ of rain reported at KCI since June, 2005, which was just one month shy of 10 years ago. This puts KCI just under 3″ above average for 2015 and over 5″ above average for May.

2015-05-31-1005-KEAX-MAY-PRECIP

The rain in the western district was the northernmost tip of a heavy rain area which extended and expanded SSW:

2015-05-31-1005-SCUS-MAY-PRECIP 2015-05-31-1005-COUS-MAY-PRECIP

10-20″+ fell over OK/TX making news with devastating flooding.

The eastern district saw significant rainfall as well, especially SEMO/SW IL, but STL finished the month nearly 1″ below average and is now nearly 1″ below average for 2015.

2015-05-31-1005-KLSX-MAY-PRECIP

This series of maps (click to make more readable) show average May rains (L), percent of average observed rains (M) and difference from average observed rains (R).

2015-05-31-1005-MISSOURI-MAY-PRECIP-AVG 2015-05-31-1005-MISSOURI-MAY-PRECIP-PCT 2015-05-31-1005-MISSOURI-MAY-PRECIP-DEPT

This extraordinary rainfall has pretty well wiped out the multi-year central and southern Plains drought.  Lingering dryness is spotty over TX/KS/OK.

 

2015-05-31-1005-USDM

But this is a big difference when compared with 1 year ago:

2015-05-31-1005-USDM2014

This map shows the change from this time in 2014.  Yellows/oranges show worse-off locations while greens show improvement.

dry

Wet areas this month stayed cool with drier areas seeing warmth this month.

2015-05-31-1005-SWUS-MAY-TEMP

The US NWS CPC expects higher probabilities for a cooler than average June centered on the south central Plains, with a ring of warmth from the west, through the north and along the east coast.  The cooler than average weather is in part due to the fact of this being very wet ground and a lot of the sun’s energy will go into evaporation rather than heating even without additional heavy rains.

2015-05-31-1005-JUNE

While a signal for wetness remains across the Southern Plains, the stronger signal shifts northward to the CO/NE area and along the southern and eastern coasts.  Locally, this forecast shows little signal for wet or dry.  Other forecasts are for more widespread wetter conditions.  June rains are largely dependent upon where storm clusters form and track and as we’ve seen, some areas can be inundated while other areas not that far away miss out.

Global Tropics:

Western Pacific:

Super Typhoon Dolphin

Dolphin developed at low latitudes and was most notable for passing just north of Guam. This image was taken several days after the system had passed through the Marianas Islands (Guam is the larger island to the southeast of the eye.  The system was near peak intensity in this image.

20150516_0801_mtsat2_x_vis1km_high_07WDOLPHIN_130kts-926mb-158N-1415E_100pc

TY Dolphin passed through the range of the Guam Radar with these series of images taken (Click to make more readable). The B&W image shows the subtle structure of the rain bands while the 3-D images also show some of the structure.  The red/blue image shows the wind field (speed) with blues winds blowing inbound and red winds outbound.

20150515_0844_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0847_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0850_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0851_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc 20150515_0856_PGUA_07WDOLPHIN_95kts-952mb-125N-1497E_100pc

 

Eastern Pacific:

Hurricane Andres (01E)

Andres wasted no time forming from a tropical wave along 100W south of Mexico at the end of May (the East Pacific season opens 5/15).  This series shows the system as it organized and neared peak.  As with most eastern Pacific tropical cyclones, the system moved well offshore and well away from any land areas.  As the month ended, it was approaching colder waters and will rapidly weaken the first week of June.

20150527_1745_goes13_x_vis2km_92EINVEST_25kts-1007mb-89N-1048W_100pc 20150529_1931_goes15_x_vis2km_01EANDRES_60kts-994mb-123N-1144W_88pc 20150531_1900_goes15_x_vis1km_high_01EANDRES_105kts-955mb-153N-1185W_100pc

Tropical Low 93E formed right behind Andres and was visible as a tight swirl of clouds.  Wind shear from Andres was preventing development, but as that system weakens, this one will strengthen and according to the NHC is likely to become a tropical depression early  this week, as a Tropical Storm, it would be named “Blanca”.  This looks to be a very busy tropical cyclone season in the central and eastern Pacific.

20150531_1745_goes13_x_vis1km_high_93EINVEST_25kts-1008mb-121N-1021W_100pc

We’ll follow up with the progress of these two systems in later posts.

Winter 2014-2015: Cold looks likely/Snow totals may be up-but overall precip down

Today’s post outlines the drivers at work behind the kind of winter weather we might expect this year and explores different outlooks for this upcoming winter, but before getting into the winter outlooks shown here, a word of caution on these long range outlooks is needed:

Winter is a notoriously tough season to forecast.   Currently the best numerical weather prediction models that are run several times daily (GFS, GFSx, ECMWF, NAM, CMC) exhibit around a 90% skill (accuracy) rate to 10 days and 80-90% rate at 16 days.  Beyond that, accuracy simply becomes nothing more than random noise. Running these types of models out past these thresholds quickly devolves into chaos, which is not useful for long range or seasonal weather forecasting. This is a big part of why any forecaster predicting a specific event such as a snowstorm or ice storm at a specific date three weeks a month or even two months in the future does so at their own peril. It is also why predicting a specific number of damaging ice storms or a specific number of snowstorms simply cannot be done.

An added challenge in forecasting snowfall totals lies in the location of our region.  Eastern Kansas, Missouri and southern Illinois lie south of the main snow belts and parts of southeast Missouri and southern Illinois border areas where snow events actually become uncommon. Average annual snow ranges from as little as 6″ south of the district SSW of Cape Girardeau to as much as 24″ west and north.  These totals are well within the range of one or two powerful winter storms.

That brings up another difficulty in winter weather prediction.  With yearly snowfall totals so low, one or two exceptionally powerful winter storms can literally bring an entire season’s worth of snow.  Such was the case with SE Missouri and SW Illinois’ early December storm last year.  That means that the winter can be “warm and dry” overall with just one event possibly resulting in above average snow.

What a “typical” winter looks like

Let’s start with the averages.   Meteorological winter is considered to run from December 1st to the last day in February.  Snowfall is tallied from July 1 of the current year to June 30 of the following year.  This captures any early fall snows and late spring snows. The graphic below shows the winter weather averages for KC and STL (click to enlarge).  Being further west and north, Kansas City is colder and much drier than St. Louis, as moist southerly flow tends to turn east before reaching the KC area and southern stream weather systems tend to pass south of the KC area. Despite this, KC has just slightly more snow than STL, although just by an inch or so.  Snowfall peaks in January in STL while there is a peak in February for KC.  Despite being on the edge of the Central Plains, heavy snow is not at all common in Kanas City, there are on average (1888-2013) 15 measurable snow events per season. 88% of the events are light snow events (4″or less). Only 8% produce storm totals of 4″ or greater and less than 4% produce storm total snow considered “major” of 6″ or greater.  Since 1888, there have only been 17 events where the storm total snow has been greater than 10″.

The coldest temperatures ever recorded in KC and STL were -23 and -22 respectively, set in the frigid December cold outbreak in 1989 in KC and 130 years ago in STL.

04-WINTER SEASON AVERAGES

 

For eastern Kansas, Missouri and Illinois, average snowfall ranges from as little as less than 6” in Missouri’s Bootheel to as much as 42” along the shores of Lake Michigan.  Topeka, Kansas City and STL all lie within a belt where average winter snows run between 12 and 18”. Click on the graphic to make it more readable.

Average Annual Snowfall Midwest

 

6-12” is common for SE MO/SW and S IL. In this area, locations from Annapolis MO to Rockwood and Du Quoin Illinois, around 9” is typical with 9-12” north of that line and 6-9” to the south.  Click on the graphic to make it more readable.  This low annual average total puts this area, in particular, in a zone where it is possible to get a season’s worth of snow in one storm. That was the case in the December 2013 storm when 10-16” fell in one event.  The higher annual totals of STL/KC mean that a single storm strong enough to dump a season’s worth of snow is less likely.

SEMO-SWIL_SNOW

 

Before we look forward, let’s look back at the last few seasons.  Some clues to this year lie in those cold seasons.

2013-2014: Cold with above average snow

Looking back at 2013/2014: 68% of all days of the winter were below average in Kansas City and 65% were below average in St. Louis. The winter season came in at 5.41 degrees colder than average in KC and 4.7 degrees colder than average in STL. 37 days never made it above freezing in KC and 32 days in STL.  KC had 11 days with temperatures at 0F or lower while STL had 5 days. -11 was the coldest temp in KC and -8 in STL.  Click on the graphic to make it more readable.

2013-2014-WINTER TEMPERATURES

In terms of snow..it was above average.  +11.6” in STL and +7.3” in KC.  These were not top ten snow totals. The winter snow total was around and inch more than 2012-13 in STL and about 5” less than in 2012-13 for KC. Click on the graphic to make it more readable.

SNOWFALL TOTALS AND RECORDS

Next, let’s take a look at how the snow fell across the cool season.  These graphs show how much snow fell per month at KC and STL.  In both images, the purple line is the actual total while the faded blue line is average.   In KC, snow was below average in October & November, then slightly above average in December and January with the “biggest” snow month February.  Snows continued above average in March.  In St. Louis, snow was below average in November and then above average December through February.  The “biggest” snow month in STL was January.  Click on the graphic to make it more readable.

KC MONTHLY SNOW TOTALS STL Monthly snow ACCUMULATION grid

 

Finally let’s compare regional snow to the averages.  Last year (2013-2014) all areas finished above average.  If you look at the actual snowfall map, you can see one area of higher snows from south central MO through east central MO & SW IL.  That’s the southern storm track of the big December/January storms.  The higher snow area from east central KS to NW MO is the track of the systems that impacted KC/Topeka, especially the heaviest storm in February.  The big snow totals from IA into N IL and into the Great Lakes is from the multiple snow producing Alberta Clippers which tracked NW to SE just northeast of the district. Southwestern Missouri, while still above average, was in zone bypassed by a majority of the northern & southern stream snowstorms. Icing was a problem in this area from the southern storm track, as it typical.

MISSOURI-ILLINOIS SNOW MISSOURI-ILLINOIS SNOW-AVERAGE

 

The reason for the cold and snowy winter?  A lot of it had to do with ocean temperatures.  A warm pool of water developed in the north east Pacific, which helped create and maintain a strong and warm ridge of high pressure in that area.  That caused the jet stream to bulge north into the Arctic. The jet responded by buckling south over North America, which brought Siberian air across the pole and Arctic air south into the U.S.  This was a predominantly dry and cold pattern for Kansas City with numerous very light to light snow events.  There were 16 snow events of 2” or less, 2 events of 2-3” and only 1 “major” event of 7.5”.  In St. Louis, there were also numerous light snow events – 15 of 2” or less, 3 events of 2-4” and one major event of 10.8”.  In SEMO/SW IL major events struck like clockwork at the beginning of each month, 12-16” in early December, 8-10” in early January, 4-6” in early February and an ice/sleet event in early March. Compare this with Chicago, under the track of the Alberta Clipper snows, which had 32 snow events of 2” or less, 11 events 2-4” and 4 major snows of 5”+. 82” fell in the city through April.

 

The sea surface water temperature difference from average. Very warm water in the NE Pacific is the driving force. Last year, the warmth was south of Greenland, which drove last winter's weather patterns.

2012-2013: A warm and dry start; significantly colder and snowier from February into early Spring

Going  back another year to 2012-2013, the snows at both cities were well below average until February.  Most snow that season fell in February and March. Snow totals were also “bigger” that season. Click on the graphic to make it more readable. That winter turned out to be snowier than average and most remember it as a “hard” winter. The actual record shows it to be very warm, nearly 4 degrees above average in November (Autumn), December and January. There were periods of cold temperatures, but these were transient and quickly reverted to warmth.  February and March the pattern suddenly flipped and those two months were as much, if not more below average than the months before were above average.  Because meteorological winter is Dec-Feb, we only include temperatures for those three months and winter was officially mild.  The February cold was not enough to offset the very mild Dec, Jan and early Feb.  A majority of the season’s snow (remember we measure snow from July 1 to June 30) fell February and into March. It should be noted that Southeast Missouri and SW IL saw a heavy wet 4-6″ snow December 28, 2012 which missed STL/KC.

WINTER SNOW_STL WINTER SNOW_KC

These graphics show the temperature and snowfall departure (or difference) from average over the Midwest.  Temperatures were 1-3F above average Dec-Feb with the warmest readings in STL/SEMO/SWIL.  In terms of snowfall, areas from Columbia MO through KC and Topeka KS had 175-200% of normal snow, while western parts of the STL area had 100-150% of normal.  Western SEMO was a bit below average  (75-100% of average) but SEMO and SW/S IL had 125-175% of average.

temp departuresnow departure

2011-2012: Very warm, record low snow totals:

2011-12 was also a record year- but for the opposite reasons. Ocean temperatures made a big difference.  Remember the mild and nearly snowless winter?  The ocean temperatures were nearly opposite that year from those in 2013-2014 That configuration led to this type of jet stream pattern:

2011-12_UPPER AIR

These graphics show the temperature and snowfall departure (or difference) from average over the Midwest. Most areas in the district were 4-5F above average.  Snowfall was scarce, with only 10-50% of the average annual totals.

temp departuresnow departure

The warmer waters were back over the northwest Pacific. Cool water was over the eastern Pacific, the tropics, off the coast and in the North Atlantic.  A low latitude ridge took shape over the subtropical Pacific and a broad trough over the north Pacific .  This funneled a strong and fast moving jet stream off the Asian coast and across the Pacific. A broad, but persistent ridge was over North America.  The result, Alaska was bitterly cold and the lower 48 states were flooded with mild Pacific air. A record setting lack of snow in was observed in KC and extremely low snow everywhere else. It was also a very warm winter and a very early spring.  No winter storm warnings were issued all winter for the KC, STL or SEMO/SW IL areas. The overall jet stream pattern was similar to the graphic below (click to make it more readable) along with some of the stats for that winter.

2012-09-17-1954

2010-2011: Cold and Snow:

The Winter of 2010-2011 was a cold and snowy winter with several strong storm systems and a large blizzard which impacted areas from KC to Chicago in February. St. Louis was on the southeastern edge of that storm and SEMO/SWIL was on the warm side of the storm, with rain.  Click the graphic below for more information and to make it more readable:

2012-09-19-2022

These graphics show the temperature and snowfall departure (or difference) from average over the Midwest. Temperatures were 3-5F below average that winter.  Snowfall ranged from 10-30″, mostly above average.

winter temps snow

Overall, with the exception of 2011-2012 we have been in a multi-year period of heavier snows, since 2009-2010. From 2004-2005 to 2008-2009 snow was near or below average while temperatures varied. Here are the specifics:

In 2004-2005, it was a mild winter with below average snow.  The following 9 years are listed in this chart:

SNOW

With the notable exception of 2011-2012, snow has been heavier than average for the past 5 winter seasons.  When we expand back to the first winter of the 21st century, we find with the exception of 2003-2004, snow was average or below average from the winter of 2000-2001 to the winter of 2008-2009.

Winter 2014-2015: Clues to the season

Now, we’ll take a look at the current conditions around the northern Hemisphere.  First the sea surface temperature pattern, and specifically, what is called the anomalies (difference from the long-term average by being warmer or colder).

2014-11-21-1119-SSTAMYGLB

 

As of mid month, that warm pool of water continues over the northeast Pacific. The difference this year compared to last year is that the warmth is more along the coast from Alaska down the west coast and into the subtropics.  Last year, it was centered over the open ocean and it was slightly cooler along the Pacific coast. The subtropical and tropical Pacific is also much warmer than it was last year.  A pool of cold water has formed over the north central Pacific west toward China where it fades away.  On the Atlantic side, we have warm water over the west central Atlantic from the Caribbean to Atlantic Canada. There is also an area of warmth between Labrador and Greenland and there is a pool of cold water in the north central Atlantic west of the British Isles.  Last year the warmth in the Atlantic was weak and disorganized.  Warmth in the oceans tends to help produce warm air and higher pressure aloft while cold areas help create cold air and troughs of low pressure aloft.  Warmth in the tropics helps feed moisture into the subtropics and mid latitudes.  Last year, we had a persistent ridge of warm air over Alaska, flanked by a trough over Asia and North America. That delivered a sustained flow of cold from Siberia and the Arctic into the U.S.  This year’s sea surface temperatures favor a trough in the northwest Pacific, a ridge in the northeast Pacific and another ridge over the warm northwest Atlantic. Between, the atmosphere will compensate with a trough over North America. Once again, that sets the stage for the jet stream to tap Siberian/Arctic air and funnel it into North America.  The warm tropical oceans will provide increased moisture to storm systems in the jet stream both out in the southwest and along the east coast.

One thing to keep in mind though.  Even though the general tendency may be for a trough in the central or east central U.S. overall, where precisely this sets up will have a big impact on the overall winter; and during the season, the weather patterns will change over the course of several weeks or so and even totally break down at times.

Check out the graphics below which will help illustrate how a shift in the center of the trough from the longitude of Buffalo NY to Kansas City and finally to Grand Junction, Colorado has a big impact on our weather.

EASTERN TROUGHCENTRAL TROUGH ROCKIES TROUGH

 

Snow cover is also important, aiding in refrigerating the Arctic air at the polar latitudes and keeping it cold as it heads south.  Snowpack developed early and extensively across Asia and is now at most locations on land north of 45-50 north latitude. Some research has indicated early snowpack development in Aisa (Russia/Siberia) correlates with a colder winter here.

2014-11-21-1707-NHEMSNCVRgif

 Another clue to the winter is to look at previous years when atmospheric and ocean temperatures were to some degree similar with what is currently ongoing or is likely to occur.  Based on their similarity or lack of, to then weigh the seasons accordingly.  Some are weighed once, others two or three times.  The winter seasons which seem to best fit current and expected sea surface, atmospheric, solar and other factors are: 1968-1969, 1969-1970, 1976-1977, 2009-2010 and 2013-2014. When blended and weighed together, compared to the current averages (1981-2010) they produce a composite.

The temperature map has a wide area of cold from the northern Plains and Great Lakes through the Midwest, south and east.  Across the district, the average winter temperatures were below average by -5F for STL, -4.5F for KC and -4 to -4.5 for SEMO/SW IL.  E Kansas was -3.5F below average.  A winter like the one depicted below (temperature) would be a winter similar to last year.

MASTER WINTER

The precipitation map shows a broad area of dryness west of the Appalachians  to the Central Plains and from there to the Gulf Coast.  Winter precipitation (measured as rain and melted snow) averaged 1″ to 1.5″ below average.  Remember that below average precipitation does not necessarily equate to below average snow.  Kansas City last winter was a prime example, it recorded the 19th driest winter on record with precipitation 1.5″ below average but finished with 7″ above average snowfall.  (Light and powdery snow, common in very cold air, can pile up quite heavily and have very little moisture content when melted.) A winter like the one depicted in this graphic (precipitation) would be very similar to last year from STL west through KC and Topeka, but it would be much drier for SEMO/SW IL.  The reason it would be much drier was in large part due to the torrential rain that area had in December when 2-5″ of rain fell right before Christmas.

MASTER WINTER-PRECIP

 

Winter 2014-2015: The outlooks

Here are a look at some various outlooks:  These outlooks are from each organization and are not an “official” forecast from this site. The winter forecasts from the private forecasting companies are copywright by those companies.

The U.S. NOAA Climate Prediction Center issues an outlook for Winter.  This is a probability outlook -not a forecast.  CPC forecasts the probability of an area being above or below average.  When there is no strong signal either way, or those signals conflict, CPC assigns “EC” or equal chances.  CPC does NOT forecast how much colder/warmer wetter/drier or snowier than average it will be.   The deeper colors only indicate higher probability, not greater extremes. CPC forecasts enhanced (slightly) chances for below average temperatures across the district, with higher probability of cold over the far south and warmth out west and in Alaska.  CPC also forecasts slightly enhanced to moderately enhanced chances for drier than average conditions over our east — this is something seen in El Nino years (which this may be – although weakly).  There is no signal for wetter or drier conditions in the western part of the district.  The best chances winter will turn out to be wetter than average are from California to Georgia and up the east coast. Last year, CPC had “equal chances” for temperature and precipitation for the winter season.

2014-11-21-1109-CPCWNTPCP 2014-11-21-1109-CPCWNTTMP

The U.S. CPC Climate Forecast System V2 (CFSv2) resolutely calls for warmth over the entire U.S., strongest in the northern Plains. A majority of the country, according to it, will have average precipitation, except for wetness in from Texas to CA and over FL.  Dryness is limited to the Portland to Seattle corridor, near Atlanta and the tip of Idaho. Last year, the CFSv2 predicted a warm and wet winter.

2014-11-24-0820-CPCWNTTMP2014-11-24-0822-CFSWNTPCP

The Japan Meteorological Agency (JMA) climate forecast shows signals for a western ridge and eastern trough, however their temperature forecast is nearly universally mild (although only by 1 degree C) except for south Texas, which is one degree cool.  Except for the western Great Lakes and far northern Rockies, their outlook is also slightly above average in precipitation.

2014-11-21-1950-JMAWNTWXO

 

The JAMSTEC model projects near average temperatures over the district with below average precipitation, especially for SEMO/SW IL and St. Louis. In 2013-2014, JAMSTEC predicted a warm, dry winter.

2014-11-24-0815-JAMSTECTP

 

Accuweather, a private forecasting service, forecasts cold over the district with above average snow for STL/SEMO/SW IL and near average snow for KC. Accuweather has had questionable success in years past. The agency forecast a severely cold and snowy/icy winter in 2011-2012 (when it was very warm).  Last year, the agency forecast severe storms in the eastern district for the winter, with snow and ice for the western district.  It predicted near average snow in STL/SEMO/SWIL and above average snow in KC.

2014-11-21-1307-ACCWXFSNW 2014-11-21-1307-ACCWXWINT

 

Weatherbell, a private forecasting service, forecasts a cold winter over the district and above to well above average snows. Weatherbell has had a very accurate record the past two years. Temperatures 4-6 degrees below average would be comparable to last winter.  Weatherbell forecasts 167% of average snow for SE MO/SW IL which works out to 15″. 150% (estimated) of normal snow is forecast over the remainder of the district, which works out to 27-28″ in KC, STL and Topeka. This would also be comparable to last year. Weatherbell correctly predicted a colder and snowier winter for 2013-2014.

2014-11-21-1147-WXBWNTSNW 2014-11-21-1147-WXBWNTTMP

 

In summary, the odds seem to tilt to another cold winter for the district overall. Signals present in the week of Thanksgiving point toward a reversal of the November cold entering December, with more seasonable or mild conditions for the first week (or two) of the month with that mild trend returning to a colder pattern by late month, January and February. That cold should be more sustained and intense once again.  How low temperatures go this winter can’t be accurately forecast at this point.  That will depend upon how much snow cover (if any) is present when Arctic air arrives and how the center of each Arctic high times out across the area.  To get subzero cold you need a perfect match of absolutely clear skies, calm winds (near the center of the high) and snowcover.  You also need that high center moving overhead in the overnight hours and not in the middle of the afternoon.

In terms of precipitation- there are several strong indicators for below average precipitation.  If the western ridge/eastern trough pattern takes hold as expected, that is a predominately dry pattern for us. That favors Alberta clippers in NW flow as the main weather system and those usually track on top of or north through east of our area, with their precipitation also to the north of us.  In this type of overall pattern, our best chance for any big and moist weather systems are in periods when this overall pattern is breaking down or is becoming re-established.

With regards to snow:  Again-hard to forecast due to low annual average snow totals (see the reasons stated above) but signals are pointing toward above average snowfall, most everywhere, with the greatest probability of above average snow for SEMO/SWIL.  Odds remain in favor of above average snow but decrease westward and northward from STL to KC and Topeka. There are reasons for this, despite predominately unfavorable NW flow aloft and the below average precipitation expected.

For SEMO/SW IL: The first of which is that we’ll have increased moisture available to southern stream mid and upper level low pressure areas undercutting the broad ridge out west aloft.  These systems, riding from the SW U.S. through the southern Plains and into the Southeast can be very efficient at generating snow in cold surface air — with weak or almost non-existent surface low pressure areas — we saw this several times in 2013-2014.  A slight northward shift in the track of these mid or upper level lows could bring some of these snows to SEMO/SWIL.  The second reason is that with below average temperatures expected, there is a greater chance for precipitation to fall as snow. The third reason was discussed above: average annual snow totals are low – only 6-12″ in this area.

For STL: Similar reasoning as for SEMO/SWIL, however average annual snowfall totals increase to 12-18″ in this area, reducing the likelihood of one or two snow event reaching the average annual snowfall total. This reduced risk is countered somewhat by the further north and eastward position of STL which puts it closer to the track of the clipper lows/snows should several of these systems track further south and west than is typical.

For KC: Above average snow expected; but odds of this verifying are lower than areas further east.  The overall upper level pattern is a dry one for KC, with this area typically too far north and west of the track of any southern stream system to receive significant moisture and too far south and west of the typical track for clipper lows/snows.  The expected cold pattern does work in favor of above average snows for the area as cold air aids in very efficient snow production even with limited moisture. As was seen several times last winter, several inches of fine, low moisture powdery snow can be effectively generated even with weak features at the surface and aloft.  As history shows, odds favor more small light events than large heavy events.  Best chance for major storms  (7″+) for KC will be when the upper level pattern is in transition –going from or going back to– the expected prevailing pattern. How often  this happens or if things work out correctly can’t be accurately predicted this far in advance.

For Topeka: Similar reasoning as for KC, but odds are just a little better than even that the forecast verifies, due to the even further westward location of the Topeka area.

Looking beyond this year, the recent trends of cold and snowier winters likely won’t last. Indications are for a reversal of the ocean temperatures back to more of what was experienced earlier in the 2000s and in 2011-2012. That may be a multi-year trend as well, all part of a natural cycle of ocean temperatures in the Pacific and Atlantic which extend across a decade or more.  A period of snowier and colder winters in the 1970s was followed by milder and drier winters in the 1980s, and so on. Each winter will be different of course, depending upon the exact configurations in the oceans and the atmosphere, but the winter trends begin to look warmer and less severe in the years to come.

 

 

The Winter Outlook: What may influence this winter’s weather and a variety of outlooks

Today’s post outlines the drivers at work behind the kind of winter weather we might expect this year and explores 11 different outlooks for this upcoming winter, but before getting into the winter outlooks shown here, a word of caution on these long range outlooks is needed:

Winter is a notoriously tough season to forecast.  Long range climate forecasting and modeling still has a long way to go. Currently the best numerical weather prediction models exhibit around a 90% skill (accuracy) rate to 10 days and 80-90 rate at 16 days.  Beyond that, accuracy simply becomes nothing more than random noise. Running these types of models out past these thresholds quickly devolves into chaos theory which is not useful for long range or seasonal weather forecasting. This is a big part of why any forecaster predicting a specific event such as a snowstorm or ice storm at a specific date three weeks a month or even two months in the future does so at their own peril. It is also why predicting several damaging ice storms or a specific number of snowstorms simply cannot be done.  Pure chance or a roll of the of the dice has an equal opportunity of giving you an accurate number of winter snow or ice storms per any given winter season.

Long range models such as the NWS Climate Forecast System’s Version 2 model, (CFSv2), the European Center for Medium Range Forecasting (ECMWF) model, the IRI and others shown here are not the same models used in forecasting near term weather.  They operate on a different set of physics equations and programming.

An added challenge in forecasting snowfall totals lies in the location of our region.  Average annual snow ranges from as little as 6″ south to as much as 20″ north.  These totals are well within the range of one or two powerful winter storms.  A case in point was the winter of 2012-13.  That winter was warmer than average and on the whole (three month period) not very snowy.  One late December snowstorm dumped an entire season’s worth of snow and then some over SE Missouri and S Illinois.  That one storm, the only major storm, ensured those areas went down in the record books as a snowier than average winter.  Kansas City and St. Louis fell victim to two to three major snows in February and March which dumped an entire season’s worth of snow and in the case of Kansas City, an entire season’s worth plus 10″.

The point being that even with a warm and dry winter prediction, it can only take the right combination of factors to come together once or twice in that multi-month period to bring an entire year’s worth of snow.  That’s not the same as for areas further north where average snowfall is 2 to 4 feet plus, well out of the range of almost all individual winter storms.  Below is a graphic showing the average annual snowfall total for the greater Midwest based upon the 1981-2010 climate period.

Average annual snowfall across the region. Snow totals as little as 6" for the Missouri Bootheel and extreme southeastern Illinois, with around 9" from Joplin through West Plains Missouri, Chester and Mt. Vernon, Illinois.  Average annual snowfall of a foot is typical from Springfield, to the Lake of the Ozarks and Hillsboro, Missouri across into Belleville and Vandalia, Illinois. Kansas City, St. Louis and on into central Illinois. Northern Missouri and north central Illinois typically see totals from a foot and a half to two feet with totals steadily increasing to the 2-3 foot range further north,

Average annual snowfall across the region. Snow totals as little as 6″ for the Missouri Bootheel and extreme southeastern Illinois, with around 9″ from Joplin through West Plains Missouri, Chester and Mt. Vernon, Illinois. Average annual snowfall of a foot is typical from Springfield, to the Lake of the Ozarks and Hillsboro, Missouri across into Belleville and Vandalia, Illinois. Kansas City, St. Louis and on into central Illinois. Northern Missouri and north central Illinois typically see totals from a foot and a half to two feet with totals steadily increasing to the 2-3 foot range further north,

In this post, we will take a look at some of the factors we can look to for reliable clues for the winter ahead, and then take a look at several differing winter ideas.

For cold air to develop, you need darkness, ice and snow.  Darkness at the north pole is always a given in winter and nothing will change that, so we’ll look first to the extent of the ice cap heading into Winter.  The chart below shows the extent of Arctic sea ice.  After a record low in 2012, 2013 is running well ahead of that year, but still on the low side of average.

This graphic shows the extent of Arctic sea ice.  The grey zone can be thought of as an average range while the grey line is the 30 year average.  2012 saw a record minimum sea ice extent while 2013 has had much more ice than 2012, within the average range but below the 30-year average.

This graphic shows the extent of Arctic sea ice. The grey zone can be thought of as an average range while the grey line is the 30 year average. 2012 saw a record minimum sea ice extent while 2013 has had much more ice than 2012, within the average range but below the 30-year average.

Once cold leaves the Arctic, in order to stay cold, it needs snow and ice on the ground. Otherwise it begins to modify or warm up as it heads south.  The graphic below shows the mid October extent of snow and ice for this year as well as 2012, 2011 and 2010 for comparison.  This will become more important later in the season; late November, December and January, but at least we can compare where we are starting from.

This graphic shows the mid October snow and ice cover from this year (2013) back through 2012 (before a mild winter early and cold and snowy winter late), 2011 (before a very warm and dry winter) and 2010 (before a cold and snowy winter).  The amount of snow and ice over the high latitudes are important as they act to refrigerate the cold air building at this time of year in the Arctic.  If there is a lack of snow and ice at high latitudes, the cold air warms as it heads south, lessening the intensity of the cold. One thing that is watched carefully is how far snow cover extends into the U.S. as even several hundred miles of bare ground can take the bite away from an Arctic air mass.  These maps become more important later in the season as we move into December and January when the strongest Arctic outbreaks will occur, at this early remove it just gives us an idea of our starting point.

This graphic shows the mid October snow and ice cover from this year (2013) back through 2012 (before a mild winter early and cold and snowy winter late), 2011 (before a very warm and dry winter) and 2010 (before a cold and snowy winter). The amount of snow and ice over the high latitudes are important as they act to refrigerate the cold air building at this time of year in the Arctic. If there is a lack of snow and ice at high latitudes, the cold air warms as it heads south, lessening the intensity of the cold. One thing that is watched carefully is how far snow cover extends into the U.S. as even several hundred miles of bare ground can take the bite away from an Arctic air mass. These maps become more important later in the season as we move into December and January when the strongest Arctic outbreaks will occur, at this early remove it just gives us an idea of our starting point.

Perhaps one of the most important factors outside of the cold and snow in the Arctic is the state of the ocean, and specifically how warm or cool it is and where those warm or cool areas are.  The graphic below shows the sea surface temperature departure – or difference – from average in mid September of 2013, 2012 and 2011.  A quick glance shows how different the ocean temperature is this year from that in 2012 and 2011.  The location of the warm and cold pools is important as it plays into the strength and location of warm upper highs & ridges, as well as cold upper lows and troughs.  Cold polar air contrasting with warm equatorial waters (El Nino) creates a strong temperature contrast which can create a stronger jet stream. That can result in a jet stream that remains strong and pulled back to the north, while cold polar air has less of a contrast with cooler equatorial waters (La Nina) for a weaker, and waiver jet stream.

Another important factor in winter weather is the ocean.  Covering 70% of the earth's surface, it has one of the greatest influences on the weather.  This graphic shows mid September sea surface temperature anomalies, which basically mean how warmer or colder the ocean's surface is compared to average. When comparing 2011 to 2013, notice how the Pacific north and south of the equator is cool in 2011 and much warmer in 2013.  The north Atlantic was cooler in 2011 and is warmer in 2013.  Warm water favors blocking patterns in the jet stream. Warmth in the north Atlantic favors a Greenland Block, and warmth in the north Pacific favors a ridge in the eastern Pacific.  Along the equator, the cool blue tones in 2011 represent a La Nina weather pattern, while there is no such organized pattern present in 2012 or in 2013.

Another important factor in winter weather is the ocean. Covering 70% of the earth’s surface, it has one of the greatest influences on the weather. This graphic shows mid September sea surface temperature anomalies, which basically mean how warmer or colder the ocean’s surface is compared to average. When comparing 2011 to 2013, notice how the Pacific north and south of the equator is cool in 2011 and much warmer in 2013. The north Atlantic was cooler in 2011 and is warmer in 2013. Warm water favors blocking patterns in the jet stream. Warmth in the north Atlantic favors a Greenland Block, and warmth in the north Pacific favors a ridge in the eastern Pacific. Along the equator, the cool blue tones in 2011 represent a La Nina weather pattern, while there is no such organized pattern present in 2012 or in 2013.

At this point an El Nino or La Nina is not expected this winter so they will not be the overriding drivers of the winter weather.  Whether a warm or cool neutral trend develops and where it develops may be a contributing factor.

A major player in winter weather is always El Nino or La Nina.  This year conditions are forecast to be neutral during the winter months (red box) One group of models favors neutral warm while another neutral cool.  This means El Nino or La Nina are not expected to be a dominant factor in the winter forecast.

A major player in winter weather is always El Nino or La Nina. This year conditions are forecast to be neutral during the winter months (red box) One group of models favors neutral warm while another neutral cool. This means El Nino or La Nina are not expected to be a dominant factor in the winter forecast.

As we have seen in winters past, the Atmospheric Oscillations (Arctic-AO, North Atlantic-NAO, Pacific North American-PNA) can play a really large role in the prevailing winter weather pattern. Note: These are notoriously hard to predict more than a few weeks ahead.  In the past three winters, they’ve tended to remain stable for long periods each season.

Atmospheric Oscillations (Arctic-AO, North Atlantic-NAO, Pacific North American-PNA) can play huge roles in prevailing weather.  This graphic shows one computer model's suggestion for these three oscillations.  Note:  These are notoriously hard to predict more than a few weeks ahead.  In the past three winters, they've tended to remain stable for long periods each year. We have two essential votes for colder conditions(NAO/AO) and one vote for warmer (PNA).

Atmospheric Oscillations (Arctic-AO, North Atlantic-NAO, Pacific North American-PNA) can play huge roles in prevailing weather. This graphic shows one computer model’s suggestion for these three oscillations. Note: These are notoriously hard to predict more than a few weeks ahead. In the past three winters, they’ve tended to remain stable for long periods each year. We have two essential votes for colder conditions(NAO/AO) and one vote for warmer (PNA).

Winter outlooks for 2013-2014 as of Mid October.

The first outlook is the U.S. National Weather Service’s Climate Prediction Center (CPC) outlook.  This outlook focuses the greatest probability of warmth over an area from Louisiana to Arizona and from the Gulf and U.S./Mexico border north to the AZ/UT-NM/CO-KS/OK borders and then southeastwards through SW Arkansas and into Louisiana.  A second warm area is forecast over northern New England.  An increased probability of dryness is expected over an area centered over far west Texas and New Mexico and as far west as SE Arizona and as far east as the middle of Texas.  A second area of dryness is placed over the southeastern states including Florida. The remainder of the country has equal chances for warmer/cooler or wetter/drier conditions.  Signals are not strong enough in any way to tilt the odds one way or another.  The warmth has been scaled back from the September outlook.  In September, the local area was included in the area given a greater chance for above average temperatures. Several other models used in making these predictions have switched over to cold signals in the past month for our area.   The intensity of the shading does not indicate how much warmer and drier these areas will be, but rather how confident that the forecast of warmth and dryness will verify.

THE NWS CPC verdict:  Near average or no strong signals either way.

This is the NWS Climate Prediction Center's temperature and precipitation forecast for meteorological winter (Dec 2013-Feb 2014) which indicates no strong signals for warmer/colder or wetter/drier conditions locally.  Last month's outlook had indicated a slight tilt toward warmer than average temperatures.  This has been removed in this current outlook.  In their discussion issued October 17th, they indicated this was due to conflicting signals between colder weather as shown by European and international models and warm signals still forecast by U.S. and Canadian Models.  These colder signals were not present last month.  The CPC will update their winter outlook one more time, Thursday, November 14th.

This is the NWS Climate Prediction Center’s temperature and precipitation forecast for meteorological winter (Dec 2013-Feb 2014) which indicates no strong signals for warmer/colder or wetter/drier conditions locally. Last month’s outlook had indicated a slight tilt toward warmer than average temperatures. This has been removed in this current outlook. In their discussion issued October 17th, they indicated this was due to conflicting signals between colder weather as shown by European and international models and warm signals still forecast by U.S. and Canadian Models. These colder signals were not present last month. The CPC will update their winter outlook one more time, Thursday, November 14th.

One of the models used in the above forecast is the Climate Forecast System’s Version 2 model, (CFSv2).  This model’s most recent run expects temperatures to average nearly 2 degrees F above average over the region this winter.  This model has been persistently warm over the past year.

The CFSv2 verdict:  Warmer than average and wetter than average.

This is the latest run of the NWS Climate Forecast System's Version 2 model, (CFSv2).  It favors above average temperatures over the region.

This is the latest run of the NWS Climate Forecast System’s Version 2 model, (CFSv2). It favors above average temperatures over the region.

Here is that model’s forecast for winter precipitation.  It forecasts above average precipitation.

This is the latest run of the NWS Climate Forecast System's Version 2 model, (CFSv2).  It favors above average precipitation over the region.

This is the latest run of the NWS Climate Forecast System’s Version 2 model, (CFSv2). It favors above average precipitation over the region.

This model is the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s (JMA) model of the prevailing upper air pattern for winter.  It forecasts a high pressure ridge over Alaska and NW Canada to off the U.S. west coast and a low pressure area over Hudson’s Bay.   The colors represent upper height departures from average and not specific surface temperatures.  This type of pattern would favor cold for the central and eastern U.S. and warmth out west.  It does indicate an occasionally active southern jet stream which could act to bring rain and or snow to some areas.  This is overall a drier pattern for the region but one in which significant snows could occur given the right setups.  It would also favor an increased chance for Arctic outbreaks due to cross polar flow.  The prevailing pattern would be a positive Pacific North American (+PNA) pattern.

The JMA’s verdict:  Colder and drier overall but increased potential for Arctic outbreaks and snow.

This is the Japanese Meteorological Agency's  (JMA) upper air forecast for Meteorological Winter (December 2013-February 2014) . It forecasts a high pressure ridge over Alaska and NW North America and a low near Hudson's Bay.  This is a cold forecast for the central and eastern U.S. for most of the winter.  A southern stream split flow is also shown which would increase the risk for cold air mass-skirting winter storms.

This is the Japanese Meteorological Agency’s (JMA) upper air forecast for Meteorological Winter (December 2013-February 2014) . It forecasts a high pressure ridge over Alaska and NW North America and a low near Hudson’s Bay. This is a cold forecast for the central and eastern U.S. for most of the winter. A southern stream split flow is also shown which would increase the risk for cold air mass-skirting winter storms.

The following two graphics are generalized representations of a +PNA pattern:

This is a simplified classic depiction of a Positive Pacific North American (+PNA) weather pattern and some general effects.  This is just a generalized description as each pattern's configuration will be different.

This is a simplified classic depiction of a Positive Pacific North American (+PNA) weather pattern and some general effects. This is just a generalized description as each pattern’s configuration will be different.

This is a generic representation of weather at the surface common with a strong positive Pacific-North American (+PNA) pattern.  A deep trough in the central and eastern U.S. keeps a steady flow of cold high pressure areas dropping southward into the central and eastern U.S. The plains will see wider swings in temperatures as Arctic air alternates with warm and dry downslope flow, while areas further east remain consistently colder.  This is a dry pattern overall, but there are exceptions.  An active subtropical jet stream can undercut the western ridge and bring storm systems through the southern tier of states producing heavy snows for the Plains and Midwest occasionally.   The patterns depicted here are just general representations, as each +PNA setup is different.

This is a generic representation of weather at the surface common with a strong positive Pacific-North American (+PNA) pattern. A deep trough in the central and eastern U.S. keeps a steady flow of cold high pressure areas dropping southward into the central and eastern U.S. The plains will see wider swings in temperatures as Arctic air alternates with warm and dry downslope flow, while areas further east remain consistently colder. This is a dry pattern overall, but there are exceptions. An active subtropical jet stream can undercut the western ridge and bring storm systems through the southern tier of states producing heavy snows for the Plains and Midwest occasionally. The patterns depicted here are just general representations, as each +PNA setup is different.

A private forecasting company called AccuWeather issues a specific winter forecast each year.  Here is the latest current forecast as well as the past two years. Also shown is how these verified for our local area.  This blog does not endorse AccuWeather’s forecast nor dismiss it, these panels are shown for information only.  AccuWeather owns the rights to their forecasts.

AccuWeather’s verdict:  Snow and Ice for Kansas City with above average snowfall for the season and severe thunderstorms for St. Louis, SE Missouri and S Illinois and near average snow.

Winter forecasting is notoriously difficult.  A private weather organization called AccuWeather is famous for its much anticipated winter outlooks.  Shown here are the current and last two winter outlooks.  Please note: I do not endorse or dismiss their forecasts, they are simply shown for informational purposes.  For 2012-13, the forecast for above average temperatures verified, but the below average snow prediction did not.  For 2011-12 neither the temperature or snowfall forecast verified.

A private weather organization called AccuWeather is famous for its much anticipated winter outlooks. Shown here are the current and last two winter outlooks. Please note: this blog does not endorse or dismiss their forecasts, they are simply shown for informational purposes. For 2012-13, the forecast for above average temperatures verified, but the below average snow prediction did not. For 2011-12 neither the temperature or snowfall forecast verified.

The next winter forecast is from the International Research Institute (IRI) which runs a number of differing climate forecasting models to come up with a winter outlook.

IRI verdict:  Near average or no strong signals either way.

Temperature:

This is the IRI (International Research Institute) multi-model forecast for winter temperatures.  It calls for greatest probability of above average temperatures over northern and eastern Canada, New England (north) and the southern Plains and Mexico (excluing Baja California). Over the US, it closely mirrors the CPC outlook.

This is the IRI (International Research Institute) multi-model forecast for winter temperatures. It calls for greatest probability of above average temperatures over northern and eastern Canada, New England (north) and the southern Plains and Mexico (excluing Baja California). Over the US, it closely mirrors the CPC outlook.

Precipitation:

This is the IRI (International Research Institute) multi-model forecast for winter precipitation.  Dryness has an increased chance over the southern Plains and Southeast.  The pink areas are regions where a dry season occurs in this period.

This is the IRI (International Research Institute) multi-model forecast for winter precipitation. Dryness has an increased chance over the southern Plains and Southeast. The pink areas are regions where a dry season occurs in this period.

The next outlook comes from us from Japan, the JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology) long range climate model.  Their latest forecast is a bit dated, from September 1st.

JAMSTEC verdict:  Warmer than average with near average precipitation.

Temperature:

This is the JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology ) temperature outlook for winter issued September 1st (the latest available) It forecasts a warm winter for most of the continental U.S. except for the western Great Lakes.

This is the JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology ) temperature outlook for winter issued September 1st (the latest available) It forecasts a warm winter for most of the continental U.S. except for the western Great Lakes.

Precipitation:

This is the September (latest available) JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology ) forecast for winter precipitation departures.  Near average precipitation is expected for our region with dryness southwest in SE Kansas and slightly more moist conditions northeast in the Great Lakes,

This is the September (latest available) JAMSTEC (Japan Agency for Marine-Earth Science and Technology ) forecast for winter precipitation departures. Near average precipitation is expected for our region with dryness southwest in SE Kansas and slightly more moist conditions northeast in the Great Lakes,

Here are some additional models and what they expect:

NMME (National Multi-Model Ensemble) verdict:  Warmer than average temperatures and no strong signal for precipitation.

The NMME (National Multi-Model Ensemble) forecasts an enhanced probability of above average temperatures and no strong signal for precipitation.

The NMME (National Multi-Model Ensemble) forecasts an enhanced probability of above average temperatures and no strong signal for precipitation.

NCAR (The National Center for Atmospheric Research) verdict:  Cooler than average west and warmer than average east.  No precipitation forecast is available.

NCAR (The National Center for Atmospheric Research) expects cooler than average weather west and warmer than average weather east.

NCAR (The National Center for Atmospheric Research) expects cooler than average weather west and warmer than average weather east.

The Canadian Meteorological Center’s verdict:  Warmer and drier than average.

The Canadian Meteorological Center's forecast results in warmer and drier than average conditions.

The Canadian Meteorological Center’s forecast results in warmer and drier than average conditions.

The US Navy model’s verdict:  Slightly warmer and slightly drier than average.

The U.S. Navy's GFDL model expects slightly above average temperatures and slightly below average precipitation.

The U.S. Navy’s GFDL model expects slightly above average temperatures and slightly below average precipitation.

A private forecasting company called WeatherBell issues a winter forecast each year.  Forecasts are based upon a comprehensive detailed meteorological analysis of many different global models, sea surface temperature, temperature of the stratosphere and solar cycles. Here is the latest current forecast.  Over the past few years, Weatherbell’s forecasts have verified quite well for our area. This blog does not endorse Weather Bell’s forecast nor dismiss it, these panels are shown for information only. Weatherbell owns the rights to their forecasts.

WeatherBell’s verdict: Colder and snowier than average.

WeatherBell, an independent private forecasting agency forecasts below average temperatures by 1-2 degrees C over the region and 133% of average snowfall.  That would amount to roughly 25" in Kansas City, 23" in St. Louis and 7-15" for SE Missouri and Southern Illinois. Note: WeatherBell owns the right to its winter forecast and this graphic neither supports nor dismisses its claim.

WeatherBell, an independent private forecasting agency forecasts below average temperatures by 1-2 degrees C over the region and 133% of average snowfall. That would amount to roughly 25″ in Kansas City, 23″ in St. Louis and 7-15″ for SE Missouri and Southern Illinois. Note: WeatherBell owns the right to its winter forecast and this graphic neither supports nor dismisses its claim.

Summary:

Here is a simplified scorecard of all the differing forecasts presented here.  Cold and snowy is in first place with three votes, followed by warm with 2 votes, then near average and warm and dry with 2 votes. warm and wet and cold round out the last two categories.

Here is a simplified scorecard of all the differing forecasts presented here. Cold and snowy is in first place with three votes, followed by warm with 2 votes, then near average and warm and dry with 2 votes. warm and wet and cold round out the last two categories. NCAR is split in to halves, one cold vote for the west and one warm vote for the east.

Winter outlooks will be updated; and this post will be updated in mid to late November.