Friday, September 9, 2016

My early 2016-2017 fall and winter outlook.

We're getting close to that time of year, where many start to wonder about the upcoming winter. I do want to remind Y'all that this is only September, so there could be changes in the final outlook that will be posted mid October to early November. I don't anticipate many changes, but I do want to leave myself some wiggle room.
Over the few years I've been doing seasonal outlooks; I've learned what works for Y'all, and have adapted how these read. This year, I'm staying away from the science and math, and just using plan speak. I hope this is better understood and appreciated.
Remember, a outlook is about the general is not going to tell you when, who, or how much any storms will impact.     
Fall 2016:
September 2016: Above average temperatures are expected with below average rainfall. The current drought will negatively impact fall foliage.
October 2016: above average temperatures with close to average precipitation. The pattern of  above average temperatures will continue into October.  Precipitation will be in the form of storm systems along with cold fronts. Tropical moisture could bring need moisture...but that can't be forecasted this far in advance.  A few high elevation snow showers in northern New York State and northern New England.
November 2016: Slightly above average temperatures along with average precipitation. Precipitation will be near-normal. We will likely see lake effect snow beginning in Late November.
December 2016: Average temperatures and average precipitation. Winter will not really get going until January. But there could be an event or two somewhere in the Northeast.  Lake effect snow will likely be slightly above normal.
Winter 2017:
The outlook is based on analog winters that had a similar setup and pattern.  It is also based on days of research in other metrological areas.
Analog years: 1958-1959, 1959-1960, 1977-1978, 1981-1982,1993-1994, 1995-1996, 2000-2001, 2013-2014, 2014-2015.
I came down to four analogs that matched the closest to what I'm seeing, 1958-1959,1959-1960, 2013-2014, and the top analog was 1993-1994. 
Let me address the big elephant in the room. The ENSO .. La Nina is going to be very weak to neutral.
A weak La Nina increases the odds for a colder winter in the Mid Atlantic and into the Northeast. The odds across the region are. 60%-70% chance for a cold winter. Snowfall amounts for the entire region are less clear...about 50%-50% for above average snowfall.  But when you place New England, New York State, and Pennsylvania in on group and Maryland Delaware, into New Jersey in another the odds of above average snowfalls increase for New York, New England and western and northern Pennsylvania.
The warm Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) is going to make it difficult to allow any kind of La Nina to make inroads into the pattern.  Once we get into January 2017 the PDO will be the main driver for the Northeast winter in 2017.
The Warm Atlantic Mutidecadal Oscillation (AMO). The temperatures in the Atlantic are ridiculously warm. It will take a while for these to knock back, So they will be a major influence for November and December, and should negate much of the cold that tries to come into the region.
  Solar Cycle 24
This solar cycle has been very inactive.  Looking back at over 60 years shows years that have low sunspot activity, tend to be weak or neutral La Nina's, during the winter season.

Here is a look at the solar cycle and how the 2007 into 2011 ended up quite cold during that time.

2007 into 2011 saw a very weak solar cycle. This was the quietest the sun had been in over 100 years......During that time we saw cold winters.  In 2010 we also had a persistent negative North Atlantic Oscillation(NAO) and the winter was dominated by a strong negative Arctic Oscillation (AO).

When the NAO and AO are in the negative phases, the Northeast tends to see cold outbreaks and we have an increase in storminess.
My discussion :
September is looking to see a few colder shots into the Plains mid to end of the Month. But these troughs of low pressure will lift north and east mostly over the Great Lakes, and moderating as it heads into the Northeast, So we will see coolness this weekend into the first of next week...with another shot of cool coming around the 15th -18th. But the month will end warm.
Seasonal patterns are strange creatures, most of the same things that caused the hot dry summer and fall  will cause Jan-March to be cold and snowy.  The Jet Stream is strongest in the winter, due to the temperature difference between the warm and cold air masses. The Polar Jet normally moves out of Canada and setup up to the south of the Northeast and Ohio Valley during the winter. As I already said the longwave (Rossby Wave) length increases in the winter and shortens in the summer, staying away from the physics and math is mainly because of speed and frequency.
Here is a look at the summertime and wintertime positions on average.

Here is the Palmer Drought Index graphic.  

This shows how the jet stream pattern has caused the constant heat dome over the East Coast this Summer. During the Summer the atmospheric wave lengths shorten up.....but during the winter the wave lengths get longer.  Another factor for this hot summer, has been the warm Atlantic Sea Surface Temperatures. 
The PDO.  A major player is the persistent ridge over the Rockies this Summer, because of the shorter wave lengths, this lead to a Midwest trough, with a ridge on the East Coast.  The placement of the warmth in the Gulf of Alaska has been just far enough west, for the Summer, that the East Coast just couldn't shake the ridge. So we fried this summer.  
Back in the 1950's we had the same PDO setup, those were cold winters in the Northern CONUS.
The warm PDO will setup a ridge in the West and a trough over the Great Lakes and East. So cold air in Alaska, Siberia, and Canada, will be able to slide down that trough into the Northeast.
We look to see a lot of cold pooling up in Central and Eastern Canada. With warmer temperatures over the Gulf states. This would greatly increase the odd of several cold shots out of Canada, with a active storm track between the two air masses, leaving the Lower Great Lakes, Northeast, and Mid Atlantic in the battleground for possibility some sufficient winter storms .
Like 2014-2015 this is going to be a tale of two winter...the first half will be mild due to the Atlantic warmth.  The second half will be quite wintery and cold.  The Atlantic is going to be a wildcard this season. All that warmth makes it difficult to ascertain its impact. So I'm guessing a little more than I normally would.
The Current Sea Surface Temperature (SST) setup.

Here is a look at the four top analog years

Here is a blend of all those winters
You can see the impact of the setup on  500mb level temperatures.

I think the analogs are a little too cold......So I've raised temperature outlooks a little....but even so, this winter is going to be below average when it comes to temperatures overall on average.
The bottom line:
The Northeast and Mid Atlantic is going to see lots of snow this winter. The entire region will see above average snowfall. Lake Effect Snows, will be well above average.
Here are my charts showing my thoughts on temperature and snowfall.

I will be posting a updated outlook for Winter 2016 - 2017 Mid October into the first of November.  



  1. Would the above average snowfall and/or significant cold spells go as far southeast as South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida?

    1. I would say, From South Carolina to Florida, winter precipitation will be below average. As for temperatures... December Northern South Carolina will be below average, while Georgia and Florida are more or less average.... January South Georgia and Florida look to be above average...the rest of Georgia and South Carolina look to be average.....February South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida look to be average.


Thank you for taking the time to comment, I will answer as soon as I can.