Forecasting Kitsap

Aspiring weatherman Matthew Leach talks about the complex and intricate weather patterns over Kitsap.
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Winter Outlook 2013-2014: Another “wild card” year

Saturday, November 16th, 2013
Christmas Day Snow, 2012 in Seabeck. Photo by Don Geidel

Christmas Day Snow, 2012 in Seabeck. Photo by Don Geidel

Alright, I have put this off long enough! Time to do my yearly ritual of witchcraft–erm, I mean, long range forecasting.

Let’s make this clear from the beginning: There are many variables to consider when making a forecast that extends months into the future; weather forecasters struggle enough to get tomorrow’s forecast right. Among the most popular ways to determine long term trends are ocean temperatures, which can play a significant role in what kinds of land temperatures and precipitation will be most prominent during a given season.

At the present, the north Pacific Ocean is in a cold phase, which has correlated to cooler, more active weather for the West in the past, but isn’t necessarily a determining factor.

In addition, the equatorial Pacific can give us an even clearer look into general seasonal weather patterns, from the development of an El Nino event, which leads to warmer and drier conditions for the Pacific Northwest, or a La Nina pattern, which brings colder and wetter weather. Unfortunately, neither of those patterns will be able to help in this year’s forecast because we are witnessing the rise of what is unofficially known as La Nada. That’s right: no warm signals and certainly no cold signals. It’s no wonder meteorologist call this pattern a “wild card”.

ANALOGS

Let’s revisit what analogs are and why they might be useful in constructing a forecast.

Analogs are past years that exhibit some similar weather activity to the current year, and as a result weather forecasters try to match up the past with the present to see if there’s some type of correlation or pattern occurring. More often than not it’s just a guide, but sometimes history does repeat itself.

Other reliable pieces of data essential for producing a long range forecast is the ONI, or Oceanic Nino Index to track what El Nino, La Nina or neutral years in the past match up similarly to the present day. The records I have go all the way back to 1950. Solar activity can be another major factor to the weather over the years, but I haven’t weighted that heavily enough in my forecast mainly because of the lack of data. Lastly, I used the PDO readings (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) to finalize my findings.

Here are some of the top corresponding years:

2012 (interestingly enough)

1990

1978

If any of you remember the winters of 2012-2013, 1990-1991 or 1978-1979, you will recall that there’s a healthy mix of benign weather  (dry, mild, no snow) and awesome weather (arctic intrusions, buckets of snow). As it so happens, that’s probably the best description of what to expect this winter.

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 3.11.46 PM

 

Screen Shot 2013-11-16 at 3.12.04 PM

DECEMBER 2013

There are some strong signals indicating December will, once again, provide us with some of the best opportunities for some chilly weather, but perhaps not the most ideal for snow. The reemergence of a pretty healthy ridge will limit the amount of precipitation we receive, but not for long. After a generally pleasant beginning to the month, there are signs that the jet stream will gradually begin to sag south and west, bringing in a decent shot of cold and moist weather. Could this result in a repeat of last years white Christmas event? The chances are, of course, very low, but it looks like we could at least be heading in the right direction. Temperatures will average a couple degrees below normal with precipitation right around average, if not a little below.

JANUARY 2014

January, as a whole, looks downright chilly for most of the country, with very little in the way of temperature fluctuations. An active jet stream and negative PNA (Pacific/North American teleconnection pattern) should also increase the mount of storminess on the West Coast with plenty of mountain snow and several shots at lowland snow. This doesn’t look like a pattern conducive to too many “Pineapple Express” systems, however, so precipitation likely won’t exceed average by much if at all. The coldest and stormiest periods will be between the 1st and the 15th with a gradual change for the drier by the end of the month.

FEBRUARY 2014

February, as has been typical in the Northwest for quite some time, will be drier than normal, but this time with a twist: It also looks a bit chillier than normal. This will be primarily due to cold overnight low temperatures, as most daytime temperatures should average at or slightly above normal. The most active weather will be found further east as the PNA shifts to a positive phase and the North Atlantic Oscillation, or NAO, takes a plunge. However, it looks like we could run into a few “overrunning” events along the Hood Canal as we switch to some milder weather towards the end of the month.

MARCH 2014

After a chilly start, we’ll likely see fairly tranquil conditions be the dominant feature through March with below normal precipitation. In fact, we could see some record high temperatures towards the end of the month.

So there you have it! A pretty cold and active beginning to winter with a gradual change to milder and drier weather. We’ll check back in once spring rolls around to see how I did.

Have a great weekend, and stay warm!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? Photos? E-mail Matt Leach at: forecastingkitsap@live.com

 


Happy summer!…well, meteorological summer

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

June has started off on a mild and sunnier-than-normal note, with high temperatures soaring into the low 70s. It felt even warmer due to the fact we’ve been sitting a good 10 to 15 degrees below or seasonal average.

The first day of summer officially starts on Friday, June 21st, but meteorologists…ahem…don’t really care about the sun’s position and what solstice is what or what equinox is what. Maybe it’s because I already have a bias, but the meteorological understanding of seasons just makes a little more sense, hence the “logical” part of the word ;)

Meteorologists define seasons more by temperature and weather. Warm–or even downright hot–weather occurs before the first official day of summer every year. Our nation begins to experience its warmest temperatures by late May/early June, so to make it easy, meteorologists dubbed meteorological summer as June 1st.

September 1st is meteorological autumn (fall), as temperatures overall begin to take a downward trend and may northern states experience their first frosts.

December 1st is meteorological winter, as temperatures and weather have long expressed their snowy and cold attitudes by then.

March 1st is meteorological spring, because by this point most temperatures begin trending upward.

This makes it easy for all of us. You don’t need to check the calendar as often to know which season it is! But I suppose for the sake of most of the world, we’ll keep things the way they are :) For more information on these seasonal variations, click here.

You’ll be glad to know that even though the first official day of summer isn’t for another few weeks, Mother Nature will play along with the notion it actually started today. Therefore, expect morning clouds Sunday and Monday with clearing skies and high temperatures in the low to mid 70s.

We warm even more for Tuesday and Wednesday as a ridge of high pressure continues to build offshore. This will fling temperatures into the mid to upper 70s…maybe even–dare I say it–80 degrees!

We cool off a little by the end of next week, but the ridge rebuilds by next weekend bringing more sunshine and mild temperatures along with it. Yay for meteorological summer! :)

Have a fantastic weekend,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? Photos? E-mail me at: forecastingkitsap@live.com

6-1-2013


Nearly 50% of the nation still covered in snow

Wednesday, April 3rd, 2013

Although our little corner of the world has enjoyed nothing but sunny skies and unseasonably mild temperatures lately, many areas across our marvelous country can’t quite say the same.

In fact, according to a news release from AccuWeather.com, as of March 25th, nearly 50% of the nation was still covered in snow, which is a dramatic increase compared to this time last year:

It has no doubt been a stormy and somewhat snowy winter across much of the U.S., but not everyone expected it to turn out that way. I’m sure many of you remember the “El Nino scare of 2012,” when many of us (or maybe just me?) started to worry we wouldn’t have a lot of snow and would therefore be subject to drought conditions come summer time.

But the mountain snow pack report as of March 1st reveals there’s actually very little to worry about:

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/support/water/westwide/snowpack/wy2013/snow1303.gif

It also appears the water supply is right on track:

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/ftpref/support/water/westwide/streamflow/wy2013/strm1303.gif

Then again, we also had a very different winter than most of Western Washington. Kitsap County experienced an anomalously snowy first half of winter, with some areas such as Seabeck and Cushman receiving as much as 30 inches of snow in December.

So disregarding our rather lame end to winter, it was a wet, snowy season over much of the country. And I guess at the end of the day, snow fell where it really mattered: In the mountains.

Have a great day,

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? Photos? E-mail me at: forecastingkitsap@live.com

4-2-2013


BOO!: A sneak peek Halloween forecast

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

Good afternoon, everyone! Hope you’ve had sufficient time to dry off because we have more storm systems and downright cold weather on tap after this short commercial break (meaning today ;)). Included in this forecast is some more mountain snow showers! In fact, take a look at this picture taken yesterday afternoon:

That’s right! Those are snowflakes falling at Stevens Pass. And sure enough, the forecast for the next week includes a chance for snow every day. So let’s hope this isn’t a bad omen for winter ;)

Now, with the weather behaving the way it has the past several days, I got curious and took a sneak peek at what the projected weather pattern will be like on Halloween. Of course we must remember it’s a long range forecast, but Halloween is becoming less and less long range as the days go by (imagine that!).

Needless to say, those little costumes portraying ghouls and goblins (or Justin Bieber if you live in Tacoma) may need to be covered with a little rain jacket. Luckily, the current forecast calls for a wet Halloween day, but a chilly, somewhat dry night. Bring the umbrella just in case, though :)

That’s a relief! I need an umbrella to match my weatherman costume, anyway! ;)

Stay warm and dry, folks!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? Ghoulish complaints? Send them my way at: forecastingkitsap@live.com




**Official ‘Forecasting Kitsap’ Fall 2012 forecast

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

This is a picture I took during the fall season in Franschhoek, South Africa. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen!

Here it is! It’s taken me long enough, but I’m ready to release my official Fall 2012 forecast. I’ll issue my Winter 2012/2013 forecast in early December.

As always, before the forecast begins, there are a few things to remember. It’s only a matter of time before someone comments: “Meteorologists can’t even forecast 5 days out, what makes them think they can forecast 3 months out?” There is a clear difference between climatic averages and daily weather forecasting. One expounds on year to year averages (climatology) while the other predicts specifics usually no more than two weeks out (weather forecasters). Click here to read more about the difference.

In long range weather forecasting, some feel it is important to use analogs. Analogs are past years that exhibit some similar weather activity to the current year, and as a result weather forecasters try to match up the past with the present to see if there’s some type of correlation or pattern occurring. More often than not it’s just a guide, but sometimes history does repeat itself.

Other reliable pieces of data essential for producing a long range forecast is the ONI, or Oceanic Nino Index to track what El Nino, La Nina or neutral years in the past match up similarly to the present day. The records I have go all the way back to 1950. Solar activity can be another major factor to the weather over the years, but I haven’t weighted that heavily enough in my forecast mainly because of the lack of data. Lastly, I used the PDO readings (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) to finalize my findings.

So with all the above points in mind, let’s get our hands dirty with some more specific, technical information.
I. CPC ANALOGS

Although hardly the most reliable or trustworthy analogs, I have been tracking the Climate Prediction Center (CPC) over the past month to get an idea of what kinds of analogs they’ve been matching their daily long range forecast updates with. Over the past month I have noticed a few recurring years (from most common to least common):

  • 2002-2003
  • 1965-1966
  • 2006-2007
  • 1951-1952

Again, the CPC analogs change every day, but these years have proven the most consistent.

 

 

 

II. THE OCEANIC NINO INDEX (EL NINO/LA NINA YEARS SINCE 1950)

As explained a while back, the ONI tells me what years were El Nino (red), La Nina (blue) or neutral (plain). Of course, the higher the number the stronger the event. I took my 4 most frequent analog years (1951, 1965, 2002 and 2006) and compared their ONI readings with our ONI trend. Both the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 were La Nina years and we are currently sitting at neutral, so I went out to find some years with 2 back-to-back La Nina’s followed by a neutral/weakly positive El Nino year. These are the years I found

  • 1951-1952
  • 1965-1966 (this one wasn’t preceded by a back-to-back Nina, but otherwise the numbers match well)
  • 2006-2007 (similar story to 1965-1966)

III. STATE OF THE PDO (PACIFIC DECADAL OSCILLATION)

The PDO is the surface temperatures of the Pacific, north of 20° N. We are currently in a sharply cool (or negative) phase and we’ve been that way for almost 2 1/2 years straight! This plays a big part in our weather, so I set out to see which of the above analogs matched our current PDO phase (FYI, the PDO number for August was -1.93!) Although none of the analogs matched up quite to this years negativity, the remaining analogs seemed close enough, especially 1951 which registered a -1.37 reading in August.

IV. LONG RANGE FORECAST FOR FALL 2012

Whew! You’re still with me! Good for you! I hope you’ve learned as much as I have along the way. Long range forecasting is a fun, but tedious science. I consider myself a beginner, but the more I study and try my hand at long range forecasting, the better I expect to become. With that being said, my top 3 analogs for the Fall of 2012 in the Northwest is 1951, 1965 and 2006.

I have weighted my forecast heavily as a combination of those three years, although it obviously won’t play out as a carbon copy. These analogs just provide me with a credible basis. Also, just to note, the 1981-2010 temp/precip averages constitute what’s above, near or below average.

First off, here’s a composite map of my 3 main analogs.

TEMPERATURE TRENDS FROM OCTOBER-DECEMBER

PRECIPITATION TRENDS FROM OCTOBER-DECEMBER

So right off the bat, it looks like from October-December this year, we have a decent chance of averaging slightly above normal in the temperature department and near normal to slightly above normal in the precipitation department.

OCTOBER 2012- (Temperature Mean: 49°; 1° above average. Precipitation Average: 4.39”; 0.5” below average) Month Snow Chance: 0%

Contrary to a lot of fall forecasts out there, it just doesn’t look like the month for big temperature spreads or anomalies. Overall it looks like we’ll experience a much tamer and slightly warmer than normal October, on average. Expect the Cascades and Olympics to be seeing some snowfall this month as we could get several bouts with cold air, making the lowlands and the mountains chilly at times. Other than a few cold spurts, it’ll generally be a comfortable October, a month we usually have major wind or rain storms in.

NOVEMBER 2012- (Temperature Mean: 41.5°; 0.5° above average. Precipitation Average: 10.89”; 1.5” above average) Month Snow Chance: 40%

November will be our transition month. We’ll notice temperatures getting colder with many “first frosts” popping up around the peninsula. The most notable thing about November will be all the rain. Usually November is a wet month, but this year it’s projected to be quite wet. Temperatures will hover around normal for the month, but enough warmer, Pineapple Express-type rain storms could nudge the temperature up a tad. The jet stream will not have responded to the El Nino atmosphere quite yet, so expect a lot of cloudy, rainy days. The snow chance is up to 40%, meaning most of the month it will likely be too mild for snow, but we could have a few bouts of it towards the end of the month.

DECEMBER 2012- (Temperature Mean: 38°; 1° below average. Precipitation Average: 10.50”; 0.4” above average) Month Snow Chance: 80%

Even the research I’ve conducted corresponds well with a colder than average December. I’m not sure if I agree with the “much colder” than normal forecast put out by The Weather Channel, but either way it’ll be a chilly month. It’ll be drier than November, but still wetter than your average December. This will surely bode well for the mountains as well as lowland snow fans, as I see the very realistic potential for some arctic air intrusions/snow days during this month. It would be impossible to say how much, but with a forecast for above average precipitation, I’d say there’s a decent chance for SOME sticking snow.

*Left bar: temperatures; Right bar: precipitation

Well there you have it! It’s difficult and practically futile to predict any windstorms, snowstorms, ice storms, etc in these long range forecasts. All we need is a general idea of what it’s looking like all things considered. Of course there are other factors that play into our weather here, so it’ll be fun to check back and see how I did!

Please feel free to use the comment section below or shoot me an e-mail about what you see. Have a great day everyone!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

forecastingkitsap@live.com

P.S. I’ll post the updated 7 day forecast later tonight :)



Weather Channel calls for “much colder” than normal temperatures this fall

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Hello everyone! I’ve been meaning to issue a fall forecast of my own for the past couple  weeks, but one thing has piled on another and I haven’t completed my draft! However, by Wednesday you’ll see the final results of what I am observing and what I think that will mean for you in the coming months.

In the mean time, I thought many of you would like to know the Weather Channel’s take on the situation since, after all, they are slightly more well known, credible and famous than myself ;) But I’d sure like to duel it out with them when it comes to predicting Kitsap’s weather!

Ahem…where were we? Oh yes. The Weather Channel. In a news release just hours ago, Dr. Todd Crawford, Chief Meteorologist of Weather Services International (WSI), expounds on the ever declining El Nino and how it may actually play the opposite effect than first anticipated. This means much of the west could be caught in a chilly early season grip while the eastern states could bask in above to much above normal temperatures.

In fact, December is projected to average “much below normal” in the Northwest, much to the pleasure of skiers and snowboarders here! (By the way, “normal” is considered anything higher than the 1981-2010 historical average)

Take from this what you will. It IS a 3 month long range forecast after all:

(We’re having issues with the link, so you will have to copy and paste this into the address bar. Sorry for the inconvenience!)

www.weather.com/news/weather-forecast/late-fall-early-winter-outlook-20120924

As for us in the present day? Well…I don’t know how many ways I can present it to you without it sounds monotonous. ;) The next 7 days looks pretty typical of late September: morning clouds, drizzle, partial clearing in the afternoon and highs reaching the upper 60s and lower 70s. This will be the case until about Thursday when a weak ridge of high pressure builds in and boosts temperatures up a notch into the low to mid 70s.

The long range is interesting, but I prefer to leave it at that. There are certainly signs for a pattern change once we enter October, but let’s not get too carried away :)

For now, enjoy what we have! Several forecasting agencies don’t seem to think it’ll last much longer ;)

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

forecastingkitsap@live.com




A sneak peek into the weather of Fall 2012

Wednesday, August 8th, 2012

Colorado ski lift photo posted by Flickr user dkwonsh.

I know, we haven’t even had a true summer yet and we’re already talking about fall! But for what it’s worth, this may settle some fears that a looming El Niño will destroy all hope for skiing, snowboarding or school closures this year.

About a week ago I produced a weather post on why we may be in for an Indian summer. While I still feel we have a good chance at seeing a warm start to fall, some weather sources are saying it won’t last long. In fact, early predictions say the western United States may be in for a cold, wet and snowy (in higher elevations, of course ;)) autumn season. One of those weather sources is long range forecasting website Accuweather.com:

It will start out wet during the early and middle of the fall in the Northwest.

“I think it will start out wetter, but get drier in the late fall season, which could set up for a fairly dry or at least below-normal winter season across areas like Seattle and Spokane,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

Wet weather will shift farther south across much of California during the middle to latter part of the season. A wet late-fall is in store for San Francisco. Increased snowfall expected in the Sierra is good news for California water supply, following a significant snow drought last winter. Read the full article here


The shift to drier weather in the late fall season would reflect the growing El Niño as well. This past Friday I sat down with Scott Sistek, weather producer at KOMO 4 News, as well as Steve Pool, KOMO 4 evening weather forecaster. Among many topics of discussion, one of them was the developing El Niño. I asked Scott if it’s looking healthy enough to play a big impact in our winter weather this year. He responded that it not only looks healthy, but also big. El Niño and La Niña weather patterns are divided into three groups: weak, moderate and strong. Scott believes we could be in for a moderate El Niño this winter, which typically means mild, dry and relatively calm.

Obviously nothing is set in stone yet, but already it sounds like an interesting couple of months ahead…weather-wise, anyway!

In the short term, however, the weather will be anything but interesting. In fact, it will be pretty typical of early August. The sun will gradually reappear through the end of the week into the weekend and high temperatures will rise to the upper 70s and lower 80s. After a brief marine push Monday of next week, a strengthening ridge should serve warm and sunny weather for the rest of the week.

Gotta love summer in the Pacific Northwest!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

forecastingkitsap@live.com




**SEVERELY BORING WEATHER WARNING IN EFFECT: El Nino Update and the Rest of the Winter

Tuesday, January 5th, 2010

RAIN_CLOUDS

**A SEVERELY BORING WEATHER WARNING has been issued by the KWS (Kitsap Weather Service) and will remain in effect until…further notice. Please stay tuned for further warnings, advisories or immediate evacuation plans to the country’s mid-section for some adrenaline-fuelin’ storm chasin’.**

Wow folks…we’ve certainly hit a dead end in the road to active weather. To pour more salt on our already gaping wound this winter in the PNW lowlands, take a look at some of these impressive weather events from the eastern 2/3rds of the country this past month (ending yesterday):

12/4/2009: Earliest ever snowfall in Houston
12/8-10/2009: Blizzard in the Plains States, Midwest and parts of Canada
12/18-20/2009: Mid-Atlantic/southern New England blizzard. Washington, DC (DCA) had its snowiest December on record.
12/24-27, 2009: Blizzard in the Plains States and Midwest
12/26-27/2009: Biggest snowfall in 130 years in St. Petersburg, Russia
12/31-1/4/2009: Major snowstorm in northern New England and parts of Canada. Burlington had its biggest snowfall on record
1/1-5/2010: Major lake effect snow outbreak
1/3-4/2010: Major snowfall in parts of East Asia. Beijing had its biggest snowfall since 1951 and Seoul had its biggest snowfall on record

You have GOT to be kidding me. Snowfall in flippin’ Houston but not Seattle?! Heck, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Tallahassee have seen some sticking snowfall (1”<) this winter. So depressing. Does this have anything to do with  the El Nino out there? Eh…kinda, but we haven’t seen El Nino’s typical effects at all this season so far. We’ve had numerous wet, rainy days and temperatures have remained pretty seasonable, spiking to above normal levels from time to time, but nothing so out of the ordinary it would make headlines (For those confused, the December cold snap was, technically, still in the fall season. I’m talking about the weather “post 21st of December”.)

El Nino probably is messing with our winter right now despite it’s masked effects of clouds and rain this time around (2006-2007 wasn’t exactly a typical El Nino either). But with it’s current moderate to strong status, our chances of lowland snow and cold are appearing more dismal by the day. And looking at the latest long range models, a “warm and dry pattern” touted by many meteorologists at the start of the fall season doesn’t look to be verifying well for the PacNW either, especially after ending one of the coldest Decembers since 1990. Granted it was dry, our wet pattern has revamped and 2009 ended about an inch above normal for rainfall. Typical of an El Nino? Nope.

So the $1,000,000 question is this: what’s in store for the rest of the winter? How will Vancouver B.C. look for the Olympics? First answer: not so good. Virtually every weather model a weather junkie can look at is proclaiming “Rain! Seasonable temperatures! Mist! Fog! Low clouds! Depression!” until at least the 21st of the month. But, as I expected in my 2009-2010 forecast, El Nino will be more pronouncly felt around here by the end of this month into February and March, so that means more snoozer weather and bad news for the Olympics.

I’m not saying all hope is lost for a dramatic pattern change between now and February, but the crystal ball looks anything but optomistic. Hmmm…maybe I’m being too opinionated here. I’m sure SOME of you like this kind of (tortureous) weather!

Until further notice…let the SEVERELY BORING WEATHER WARNING continue ;)

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at: forecastingkitsap@live.com



**FORECASTING KITSAP WINTER 2009-2010 FORECAST By: Matthew Leach

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Winter-Wonderland-1-1024x768

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

**Follow me on Twitter! @kitsapweather (twitter.com/kitsapweather)**

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.

NATIONALLY

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

LOCALLY

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



AccuWeather.com Releases Final 2009-2010 Winter Outlook

Wednesday, October 14th, 2009

I guess the NOAA is going to release their winter outlook sometime later today or tomorrow, but we all know what they’re going to say: “above normal temperatures with below normal precipitation” in the Pacific Northwest. And you know what? For the past several years they’ve been blowtorching the Northwest, only to get blowtorched themselves year after year.

So the government-based weather organization is going to get a bit of a snub from me because they’ve flubbed way too many times to be taken seriously. And while AccuWeather.com is not exactly the best source for long range weather (in my opinion, of course) they tend to be a little more accurate. Here’s their latest 2009-2010 weather outlook for temperatures and precipitation: 

WINTER2010USTemps

WINTER2010USPrecip

Hey snow lovers…can you say “Ouch”?! If this forecast comes true, we would experience the dullest winter since 2002-2003. I guess given what we’ve been slipping and sliding through since 2006, we’re about due. But still…I’m not liking this forecast :(

I have to say, though, I’m not exactly agreeing with this forecast, and that isn’t because I’m biased. AccuWeather is east coast based, meaning it spends most of its time forecasting for the east coast, and very little time on the west coast, which is why their forecast accuracy for us isn’t necessarily the best. My winter outlook will come out later this month into November, but I must say, my fall forecast is verifying pretty well so far!

Moving on, within the past 24 hours Bremerton Airport has picked up 0.41” of rain! It was an extremely wet and dangerous morning. I hyrdoplaned into work! Literally…I almost wiped out on the highway…not fun. BE CAREFUL OUT THERE!

More heavy rain is in the forecast later tomorrow through Friday before lighter, normal Washington rain returns for the weekend with sunbreaks.

Have a fantastic day!

Matthew Leach

Forecasting Kitsap

Questions? Comments? E-mail me at: forecastingkitsap@live.com

7 DAY FORECAST

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