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An early look at coming winter

An early look at coming winter

An early look at coming winter

An early look at coming winter

Last winter had a combination of La Nina and El Nino like weather patterns and an unexpectedly strong and persistent Pacific Jet Stream. This winter is not expected to have that combo.

I’ve already covered the “typical La Nina” winter in a prior post.

As I pointed out then, there is more to what will influence a winter than just El Nino or La Nina, or the sunspot cycle or any other single thing. Here’s just a partial  list of things we look at:


And it all flexes over time.

The type and timing and strength of the La Nina matters, an east/central based event is more favorable for a colder winter east of Rockies compared with a modoki type more western based event.

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 8.07.04 PM

A stronger La Nina signal usually means a more vigorous Southeast U.S. ridge.

But any seasonal forecast for the winter that is based upon La Nina right now is based upon a projection of an event which is still developing. This makes any EARLY winter forecast very difficult. For example the American CFS model shows a moderate La Nina in place by January but most of the other climate models including the European and the Japanese show a weak La Nina in place. This obviously has major implications for the overall winter patterns over the central and eastern portions of the country.

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“Lower heights” usually equates to lower temperatures.

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Those favor more blocking of the jet stream allowing for southward moving air out of the North Pole.

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CPC researchers 27 years ago found the southeast ride in a La Nina was stronger in years when the QBO is positive/west (like last winter). The ridge in the SE is flatter when the QBO is negative/east (expected this winter):

Screen Shot 2017-09-28 at 7.43.09 AM

As we moved through summer it was worth noting:

Screen Shot 2017-08-10 at 11.34.05 AM

So we may be heading for a weak to moderate La Nina, in a low solar cycle, with a negative easterly -QBO. That would favor a healthy winter for the northern plains and Midwest.:

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There are also other, longer cycles of the sun.

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Keep in mind that while we are in a low sunspot cycle we are not yet at the bottom, we may have to wait a couple years or so for full impact with the SOLAR MINIMUM expected somewhere about 2021.

Recent winters approaching but not at the sunspot trough such as 1985-86 and 1995-96 have favored ridge west east trough +PNA type winters.

Past weak La Nina winters with a -QBO had sudden stratospheric warming (SSW) events with blocking of jet stream and a weakened polar vortex (strong ones can bottle-up arctic air), a stronger Polar/Pacific Jet Stream and a weaker Sub-Tropical Jet Stream. So we may get a polar vortex pattern similar to last winter but not exact. This raises an eyebrow for ice concerns in the Tennessee Valley rather than snow.

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Last year was LOW SOLAR, but the QBO was very strongly positive +QBO. A screaming strong and persistent Pacific Jet Stream often flooded the nation with mild air.

The water has warmed in the North Atlantic over the past couple months, if it continues to do so, with an easterly QBO, increase odds of a return of the – NAO and – AO this winter:


La Nina by itself:

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 6.44.07 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.52.41 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.53.49 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.54.39 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.55.21 PM

Imaget-1 Image-1

You can see from the above La Nina is usually not a southern snow lovers friend… on its own. It’s possible other factors yet TBD will mitigate the La Nina flavor of the coming winter.


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Considerable agreement on a La Nina.


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GLAAM (Global atmospheric angular momentum) or just AAM also known as GWO (Global wind oscillation) is another factor we monitor for medium and long-range weather outlooks.

Atmospheric Angular Momentum (AAM), a measure of how fast the atmosphere is spinning relative to the Earth’s rotation, is a complex variable that can offer insight to particular flow configurations within the atmosphere. It’s related to mountain torques among other things. Google if interested in more.

Screen Shot 2017-09-27 at 5.11.28 PM

The colder than normal far north, warmer far south pattern shows in the projected AAM ABOVE IF it doesn’t change, this is just the current look. It may not hold.

We look for matches to this year from the past for analog years. Models are rather  similar:

Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 6.55.55 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 6.55.40 PM


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Except for the ECMWF seasonal look there is considerable agreement on the mean 500mb pattern above.


DECEMBER: Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.09.06 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.11.52 PM

JANUARY: Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.13.09 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.15.29 PM

FEBRUARY: Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.17.25 PM Screen Shot 2017-09-19 at 7.18.09 PM

Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 6.46.14 PM


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Purple shading above normal, yellow-orange below normal.


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Remember, all this represents modeling and data RESEARCH looking for CLUES (drivers) in the form of analogs that represent similar ocean-earth-atmosphere-stratosphere-cyrosphere conditions to some years in the past as a sign post to the future.

It’s not even October so it would be extremely unwise to base a prediction on current metrics. Things will change, after all. In fact, the northern Pacific Ocean has already changed from the summer. I will be checking the NH snow and ice cover and speed of advancement, the amount of named tropical cyclones in the central/eastern Pacific and the Atlantic Basins and amplitude tendency at 500MB for the start of fall. This goes with the usual comparison charts for JJAS temperature and precipitation. In other words, there are many ingredients in the seasonal forecast pot. We just do not know yet.


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PROBABLY GONNA TURN OUT BADLY, if ya know what I mean.

FOLLOW ME on Twitter @MellishMeterWSB



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