Winter 2009-2010: Get Ready for a Winter of Extremes!

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Alright…what’s it gonna be? Snowy? Cold? Warm? Wet? Dry? We’ll find out after this long commercial break!

Just kidding 😉 After months of research and preparation I have finally completed my winter outlook for the nation with specifics for Western Washington and Oregon. I realize I have readers from all across the country, so if you would like any specifics for your area that are not covered in this blog post, feel free to drop me a comment or e-mail and I’d be happy to provide some insight.

A little disclaimer here: this forecast should not be taken as gospel. It is quite common for people to take forecasts like this and expect them to verify word for word. Long range forecasting is an imperfect science, but I believe there are enough signals out there that can point to a long range pattern or trend developing.

Such is the case this winter. We’ve (the Northwestern region of the U.S.) had a ridiculously wet fall after an anomalously dry late spring/summer/early fall. However, storms have been in abundance since May with several thunderstorms/funnel clouds reported all over the Northwest. This is highly unusual. Western Washington averages about 2 funnel clouds/tornadoes a year…we had 2 in just 2 months.


Another noticeable quality about the weather lately is the extreme nature of the weather trends. I expect this same pattern to continue through Winter 2009-2010. The nation as a whole will see more snow and ice storms than usual, particularly in the country’s mid-section. The East and West Coasts, however, will average about normal storm-wise, though this can be a bit misleading when just looking at the maps and I’ll explain in just a moment.

The southern portions of the U.S. will experience more tranquil weather than the rest of the country, especially in the southeast. Normally an El Nino winter would equate to cooler and wetter than normal conditions in the southeast. Not this year. According to my research, expect drier and milder conditions with mild, but wet conditions in the south/southwest. Overall, severe storms will be lacking all across the south.

From coast to coast, the cold and warm air will be distributed fairly evenly, however the east coast looks to be a bit more prone to ridging and mild weather, especially in January.

Overall, expect a colder and wetter than normal winter for much of the nation excepting the far west and east coasts and southern tier states.

winter 09 10 temp

winter 09 10 precip


My forecast for the Northwest from December-February is calling for extremes in temperatures and precipitation, with stretches of unusually cold and wet weather for the first half with unusually dry and mild weather the 2nd half. When all is said and done, both ends of the spectrum will be so extreme, it will even out to “average”, This winter will likely be warmer and drier than the last 2 winters, however. Mountain snow fall will be above normal, averaging anywhere from 120-150% of normal. Lowland snow fall looks to be above normal as well with a Seattle/Portland snowfall depth average of 8”.

Despite the moderate El Nino, the Pacific SST’s (Sea Surface Temperatures) and PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) are in a negative phase and look to balance between weakly negative to neutral through the season. That along with an unusually strong Pacific Jet could very well increase our chances of receiving greater amounts of snow and rain than in a typical El Nino year, at least during the first half of winter (Dec and Jan).

My main analogs are 2006, 1968 and 1965, 2006 being weighted the heaviest. These analogs match closely with our most recent summer/fall pattern and I believe they will continue this winter.

DECEMBER: This month looks to feature less rain than November, but it will still average close to normal precipitation wise. Temperatures will be fairly chilly, however. I expect the monthly temperature to average below normal between 38-39 degrees. The month as a whole will feature a handful of dry, but chilly, overcast and sunny days, so there will be plenty of opportunities to get outside! I also see the strong potential for storminess at the beginning of the month, but the Jet should relax as the month wears on. (Temperature Average: 38.5 degrees–1.5 degrees below normal. Precipitation Average: 5”–0.62” below average) Month Snow Chance: 80%

JANUARY: This will likely be our most active month. I expect our first real cold outbreak to occur during this month along with periods of snow. However, once the cold arrives I see it being a “dry cold” with most snow occurring during transitional phases (before/after warm air overrides cold air). I also expect a fair amount of storminess this month as the Pacific Jet kicks back up again. Towards the end of the month, however, El Nino will really ramp up with an impressive amount of warmth overtaking a good portion of the nation, especially the Northwest. Temperatures will average near normal with precipitation above normal. (Temperature Average: 40.0 degrees–0.9 degrees below normal. Precipitation: 6.50”– 1.37” above normal) Month Snow Chance: 90%

FEBRUARY: Looking for a break from the rain, cold and snow? This month will be a classic El Nino month: very mild and dry. I see a lot of record high temperatures being broken this month. A lot of folks will likely be tricked into thinking spring is coming early as many will note the lack of precipitation and cold weather throughout the month. Overall, a “breather” month for non-active weather fans 😉 (Temperature Average: 45.5 degrees–2.1 degrees above normal. Precipitation Average: 1.50”–2.6” below average) Month Snow Chance: 30%

MARCH: The weather will ramp up again after a “brief” lull. A few early month storms will come crashing into the Northwest, followed by some anomalous cold and snow. By mid month, however, we should dry out and warm up, forcing monthly average temperatures to end up above normal. Precipitation, however, looks above normal. (Temperature: 47.2 degrees–1 degree above average. Precipitation: 4.50”–0.75” above normal) Month Snow Chance: 70%

So there you have it! The pendulum will continue to swing this winter. We’ll check back  in April to see how I did!

Comments, questions and/or suggestions are always welcome so feel free!

Have a great evening,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

E-mail: forecastingkitsap@live.com

354 thoughts on “**FORECASTING KITSAP WINTER 2009-2010 FORECAST By: Matthew Leach

  1. GREAT FORECAST MATT well i would hope there would be more snow but thats because im absessed with snow 😀

    1. Yeah, I sure did!

      I would feel worse about it if I were the only one, though. Virtually every meteorologist who submitted a winter forecast messed up on that. I mean let’s be honest: who would’ve ever predicted the warmest January in recorded history?!

      Gotta give me some credit, though. I predicted much warmer weather around the second half of January extending into February (which I said would be quite warmer than normal, which it is turning out to be). If anything, my timing may have been off, but the overall trend was there 😉

  2. Hey, I put the top down on my convertible for the first time in January EVER this year. So…I had to run the heater a little. It’s all good!

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