Warmer Than Normal Winter Forecast May Turn Out to Be the Opposite

Winter is quickly approaching, with a massive snowstorm hitting parts of the country this week. There are two main factors that could lead to a colder than normal winter for most of the country this year. ( Farm Journal )

It was a bold forecast released in October. The Climate Prediction Center by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) called for a mild winter.

The reason? Forecasters think a weak El Nino event is most likely. While that created less confidence in the original forecast – since it’s harder to predict- NOAA still put out probabilities of 50-60 percent for above normal temperatures in Hawaii, Alaska, parts of the Pacific Northwest and the northern Rockies. A 33-50 percent probability of above normal winter temperatures then spanned across a large swatch of the Plains. The agency then said the model indicated no areas of the country were favored to have below normal temperatures.

However, AgDay and U.S. Farm Report meteorologist Mike Hoffman had a different outlook from the start. He said warmer waters in the Northern Pacific and other factors are leading him to be in the camp of a cold winter.

Look how wrong NOAA has been so far. The first is NOAA's original November forecast. The second picture is how temperatures actually turned out. 

nota forecast

Actual November Temps

“This is one of the reasons I don't I just I look at computer models for the longer range, but I really use the ocean water temperatures to a much greater extent to come up with our own forecast by looking at past years that looked very similar,” said Hoffman.

His forecast differs from NOAA. He’s calling for a December that brings below normal temperatures from eastern Texas to the Great Lakes eastward. Then, he thinks above normal temperatures will span from Montana to California.

December Forecast

He then thinks the cold air will expand in January to include most areas east of the Continental Divide. Hoffman's forecast shows the only above normal areas will be in the northwest.

January forecast

Precipitation is much more difficult to forecast. His forecast over the next 90 days calls for below normal for the Northern Mississippi Valley, western Great Lakes from the mid-Atlantic. He thinks the Gulf Coast will see above normal and also above normal in the southwest.