2017 -2018 Winter Weather Forecast / Outlook
The Climate Prediction Center is issuing some initial information on their official winter weather outlook for the 2017 – 2018 season. NOAA models are currently calling for mostly equal chances for average precipitation with above average temperatures for the months of December, January, February and March.
One of the biggest factors affects how much snow we get is the development of an El Niño or La Niña event across North America.
The El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a recurring climate pattern involving changes in water temperature near the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean. On periods ranging from about three to seven years, the surface waters across a large swath of the tropical Pacific Ocean warm or cool by anywhere from 1°C – 3°C, compared to normal. This change in temperature can have a massive impact on the jet stream and thus your winter weather patterns.
Currently the Climate Prediction Center is calling for a ENSO-neutral (neither a El Niño or La Niña event) through the remainder of 2017 and into 2018.
Some models predict the onset of El Niño (3-month average Niño-3.4 index at or greater than 0.5°C) during the Northern Hemisphere summer (Fig. 6). However, more than half of the models favor ENSO-neutral through the remainder of 2017. These predictions, along with the near-average atmospheric conditions over the Pacific, lead forecasters to favor ENSO-neutral into the winter (~50 to 55% chance). However, chances for El Niño remain elevated (~35-45%) relative to the long-term average. In summary, ENSO-neutral is favored (~50 to 55% chance) into the Northern Hemisphere winter 2017-18 (click CPC/IRI consensus forecast for the chance of each outcome for each 3-month period).
Still, some models are predicting the onset of a weak El Niño by the time winter puts its foot on our snowy doorstep. While those chances for an El Niño event remain slim NOAA says they’re far from calling it. “We still have a fair number of models forecasting at least a weak El Niño through the upcoming winter,” says ENSO blogger Nat Johnson.
So what does this mean for the 2018 winter? Take a look at the map above for how ENSP-neutral will most likely affect your area.