The Only Certainty in the Winter Outlook is the Uncertainty

October 18th, 2012 at 8:06 pm by under 4 Warn Weather

We are, frankly, in scientific nowheresville when it comes to the predictability of the upcoming winter. NOAA/CPC issued their new Winter Outlook this afternoon (October 18th), and we have seen quite a change from previous CPC outlooks for the eastern U.S. from modest anomalies projecting a warmer than average winter to what most our bloggers have seen before–”EC”. That’s Equal Chances. It could go either way, temperatures and precipitation. That’s tied to what I’ve been posting about for some weeks now. In layman’s terms, it’s the lack of anything upon which to hang a hat. We’ve gone from modeled projections of a weak to moderate el nino which was supposed to have set up by late summer to a currently nonexistent el nino (neutral ENSO). Many models are still projecting a limited chance for a weak el nino to develop this autumn and then fade away in the winter. But there is no sign of that happening at this time.

IMPO, the CPC had no choice but to broaden the EC coverage because of the neutral ENSO, and because other models they use show only a modestly better than even chance for milder than average conditions in parts of the central and western US, with a stronger chance of warmer than average temperatures in northern Alaska in November, and in the Alaska panhandle in Dec-January. With the unpredictability of the NAO, AO, PNA, and MJO beyond a couple of weeks, the uncertainties in the east central and much of the eastern US have increased. CPC was hoping for a better el nino signal so they could at least tie into el nino climatology. Without even that weak signal, EC was definitely the way to go. It probably won’t be until we get very close to the cold weather season when we can even venture a guess as to whether or not a prevalent trend may begin to show for the AO and/or the NAO.

As I’ve posted several times, research done by Bob Hamilton of the NWS Buffalo Office shows that weak el ninos tend to be associated with normal to below normal temperatures in WNY winters, with no correlation shown for snow. However, the original date of his research was in 2004, when Judah Cohen’s work was in its infancy, and even less was known about the MJO than is known now–which isn’t that much. The other variables being unknowns at this point reinforces the need for EC locally as well, even if that’s not what most of the public wants to hear. WE. DON’T. KNOW.

169 Responses to “The Only Certainty in the Winter Outlook is the Uncertainty”

  1. Don Paul says:

    The most interesting twist I’ve seen early in my workday is the newest run of the Canadian GEM, which brings the parent storm further to the east but then, in a dumbelling effect, sends a deep center of vorticity back to near the New England coast, where it has a SECOND deep low bomb out, before it stacks up over New England. I don’t recall seeing anything like this scenario in the ensemble members I looked at last night, but I could be wrong. Working w/a lousy cold…don’t sit too close to your screen!

    Lake gained a degree yesterday, to 57. That’s 1 degree above average for today…’bout the same as my fever.

  2. lois says:

    DP…if you stick with mostly organic, etc….you wouldn’t have that cold!
    Whichever way Sandy decides to go, or whatever persona she takes on, it’s a pretty clear bet that we’ll have “something” in the early part of the week, no?
    Damp & overcast here at 58degrees.

  3. Don Paul says:

    Lois, don’t get me started. There is ZERO evidence that organic food has anthing whatsoever to do with immune system reaction to exposure to infectious viruses. I know you mean well but that–that’s “balderdash!” (I cleaned that up.)

  4. THINKSNOW12 says:

    He mentions western pa/eastern Ohio …..wouldn’t that put a bullseye on WNY as well?

  5. Don Paul says:

    TS: I will quote former Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld:

    ” as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns — the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

  6. Pat says:

    As as for organics – there’s the placebo effect!

    It sure is interesting to watch this storm evolve….

    Yes, it is VERY interesting. No placebo effect can do diddly to prevent the onset of a cold. After you GET the cold, I suppose a placebo effect can set in about how you actually feel, but it will have no impact on antibodies, infectious viruses or bacteria, and the cells they attach themselves to.

    Back to the storm in a little while….-DP

  7. Pat says:

    I do hope you feel better, Don! Working with a cold is no fun! And about the organics – I meant that people “feel” healthier because they think they’ve eaten something healthier. I certainly don’t think it’d have any impact on your cold unfortunately. I’d say eat some chicken soup… but… well…. LOL…

  8. Pat says:

    Scratch that advice on the chicken soup, Don. It wont make you “better” but will relieve symptoms apparently. Don’t bother with the Zinc tho…

  9. Don Paul says:

    At least I’ve got the chicken soup! IMPORTANT NEW THREAD NOW UP.

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