Much like baseball players who display unbridled optimism every spring, those of us who ski—not to mention the nation’s ski resorts—cross our fingers every autumn. The annual question: Will this be a good snow year? Please!
Experts at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Climate Prediction Center are hedging their bets.
“This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected,” noted Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, during their annual Winter Outlook announcement recently. The NOAA forecast covers the December through February time period.
When El Niño conditions exist, warmer ocean water in the equatorial Pacific shifts the patterns of tropical rainfall. This in turn influences the strength and position of the jetstream and storms over the Pacific Ocean and United States. A strong El Niño gives forecasters confidence in how the U.S. winter will unfold.
Here’s a look at the NOAA Dec.-Feb temperature forecast map:
Below is the NOAA Dec.-Feb. precipitation forecast map:
But those of us in warmer, drier prediction zones should not despair. We know that crossing our fingers for a snowy winter is never enough.
Our less-than-scientific snowmaking solution: the Twinkie Roast. Yes, America’s popular snack food gets sacrificed one day each fall by powder-hungry REI employees in an effort to prod the fickle Snow Gods into action.
Here are a couple of pics from today's event at REI headquarters in Kent, Washington:
Does it really work? Check back with us next spring for the answer.
Weather maps credit: NOAA. Photo credit: Luis Vargas.