Ahhhhh!!! Can you feel my excitement? This is literally my FAVORITE forecast to do all year. I spend a couple weeks researching before actually putting anything down on paper/text. I guess it's my favorite because growing up it was always those big snow storms that I loved most. Growing up in Brigantine it was either feast or famine. We were often afflicted by the dreaded rain/snow line but every now and then, like in 1996 and 2003, we ended up with TONS of the white stuff that wouldn't go anywhere for DAYS. I'm still a fan of snow to this day. I enjoy forecasting it because oftentimes they are the most challenging forecasts of the year. I understand not everyone reading this shares my enthusiasm. I get it. For that reason, I don't let my love of Winter skew my professional opinion. I look at the facts and create a forecast objectively - not to suit what I WANT to happen. With that said... I think it's time to get started.
This is a big one. I've been doing this for a decade and this is #10. Now, I believe in full transparency because that's who I am as a person and as a forecaster. Out of those 10, 5 were dead on, 3 were very close and 2 were absolutely horrible. My worst forecasts were my first and last. 2018 promised big things but never delivered. EVERYTHING looked GREAT leading up to Winter and then never materialized. What went wrong? I relied too heavily on the impacts of the Madden-Julian Oscillation (which we will talk about coming up) and overlooked all the warm water in the western Pacific ocean. We got creamed with that Pacific flow which destroyed any hopes of any sustainable cold. And when the cold DID come? It was TOO cold to snow. How the heck does that makes sense? Well the high pressure system that set up to our north was TOO strong and actually pushed a couple storms to our SOUTH over the Carolinas and we got ZIP. For that reason I urge everyone to take these long-range projections with a grain of salt (or lots of salt and brine if you're the state of NJ ;) ). Simply put we are good at getting the first 5 days right... beyond that there are still wide variances. We are closing that gap, but it's not as fast as I'd like to see.
Forecasting for a SEASON is completely different than nailing down the week ahead though. Let's take a look at some of the factors we need to take into consideration:
I think even the weather novice understands that our weather is controlled by the oceans, right? I think that's a pretty basic concept. The oceans house MOST of the energy. Through evaporation, water gets lifted into the air and dispersed around the globe through the jet streams, which drive our weather patterns. Interestingly enough, the warmer the ocean is, the wetter (or whiter) some areas become. There is undoubtedly more water vapor in the air today than there was 20 years ago and that is enhancing storms' precipitation. We see this on a consistent basis with all different types of events... from tropical to blizzards.
Here's a look at the current Sea Surface Temperature Anomaly. This shows you where the oceans' temps are relative to average. I've outlined several areas that will help us determine what kind of weather we should expect across the eastern portion of the United States and will explain what each one is and does.