Prediction Courtesy of

Ready for another round of speculative, good news? Weather gurus from across the country continue to pump out new predictions and long-range forecasts for this upcoming winter. Important to us is there’s a growing and strong trend  for another La Nina event to affect North America this winter. Actually, if the positive predictions stay on track, it looks like La Nina may be sticking around for more than just a season or two.

Recently, we brought you an extremely positive outlook (we all hope comes true) from We’ll never really know until the white stuff starts to fly, but what we do know is that last season was one of the best years for North American snowfall in recent memory. In the lower 48, snowfall at ski resorts was up almost 30% percent. Not only that, but more people went skiing last season than ever before.

The National Ski Areas Association (NSAA) has been recording snow depth for 20 years and last year was the deepest they have on record. According to the NSAA, most regions in the U.S. experienced significant increases in snowfall last winter, and many sites recorded their coldest winters ever.

One spot worth checking out is The National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center. A few weeks ago they reported that while they’re not sure if El Nino or La Nina is going to be leading the charge this winter, most of the atmospheric patterns point to another onslaught via La Niña, helped in large part from below-average temperatures deep in the Pacific Ocean.

What’s even more exciting is the latest runs from the National Centers for Environmental Prediction Climate Forecast System. Their models are predicting La Niña to re-develop during the fall. This forecast is also supported by the ongoing and constant La Niña-like patterns elsewhere in the weather world, supported by such indicators as trends in the tropical atmosphere, and subsurface water temperatures under sea. They go on to say often a large La Niña episode (like last winter) is followed by weaker one. However, last week a formal La Niña Watch was issued, which means all systems could be go for an as big, if not bigger 2011-2012 winter.

Weather experts get crazy with all these predictions, knowing full-on what it does to skiers and riders foaming at the mouth for pow in the middle of summer. is citing the Pacific Decadal Oscillation as a indicator that points to La Nina potentially being around much more frequently in the near-future. The Pacific Decadal Oscillation is a pattern of climate variance, specific to the Pacific, that has switched to cold recently. If this level stays reasonably constant, it means La Nina would show itself more often. If you look at their predictions, some parts of the U.S. are in for it this winter!

In June, ExactaWeather published, “We expect North America and the Pacific Northwest region to experience a very severe winter, the Cascades snowpack is likely to see increased levels due to the negative (cold) phase of PDO.”

Of course there are others, like the reporters at AccuWeather, who think this winter will either be neutral or a weak La Nina season. One reporter shared, “The mountains in the West should see the normal amount of snow and not the extreme snow that fell last year.” They’re not the only ones predicting this winter will be average.

A weather forecaster from the Wasatch Weather Weenies thinks, “The bottom line is that we have some forecast tools suggesting ENSO-neutral conditions, and others suggesting a return to La Niña conditions for this winter (a.k.a. the double-dip La Niña).” Furthermore, “The CPC is understandably calling for ENSO-neutral conditions for the fall and either ENSO-neutral or La Niña conditions during the winter.”

On the flip side many others continue supporting a prediction that favors another big winter. A Washington State meteorologist, Larry Shick is stoked on what he sees. “Due to the cool, cloudy and sometimes rainy/snowy spring and summer the snow has not completely melted above 5,000 feet here in the Cascades – that is pretty rare.  Some areas are reporting their highest August 10 snow depth – snow will stop melting by September and already melt is slowing in higher elevations (and no heat waves in sight) so I expect carry over snowpack – this is how ice ages begin!

We can go back and forth on this for days, weeks, and months on end. The truth be told, like every winter, when it snows, it snows. Currently, most models are saying there’s a chance at normalcy, a chance for a weak La Nina influence, and a chance for La Nina to strike hard again. We all know an average year in the Sierra Nevada can be the best year of your life if you ski/ride, regardless. If this winter is close to or the same as last year, we’re stoked. If it’s gonna be bigger, bring it!  So we might as well start with that, hope things get amplified by October, and realize almost all of the predictions out there right now are saying activity will at least be average, but more likely be above average. Translation: summer feels good right now, but winter is already sounding a little bit better. We’ll keep you updated as more predictions get published.


9 replies on “More Predictions For The 2011-2012 North American Winter | Official La Nina Watch Issued”