October 19 2018

The Winter Outlook from NOAA for the 2018 to 2019 season came out this week. The main influence we the 75% likelihood of El Nino developing in the tropical Pacific Ocean. A weak El Nino that is. This is important because the intensity of that warm water pattern plays an important role in storm tracks across the US.  This is NOT THE ONLY PLAYER and I will identify many others in my winter outlook. But for argument sake, I wanted to share this outlook and compare with weather records in Baltimore.

There is a video at the bottom of this post explaining the NOAA thinking behind their graphics. It is important to realize that NOAA does not push our region warm or cold, but leaves it neutral. There are other factors that will play in and history actually shows if we trend cold, then we will be very cold. Add that in with NOAA’s push for a wetter winter, then it would likely be a whiter winter. But, they don’t come out and say that.

I will say that and I will have more of my forecasting techniques and personal winter outlook spread over the next week. There is a lot of information and I can’t drop it all at once.

NOAA Winter Outlook For Temperature

In their report, there is no signal for temperature trend for the Mid Atlantic. Their bullet points are below contrasted with Baltimore data.

NOAA Notes:

  • Warmer-than-normal conditions are anticipated across much of the northern and western U.S., with the greatest likelihood in Alaska and from the Pacific Northwest to the Northern Plains.

  • The Southeast, Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic all have equal chances for below-, near- or above-average temperatures.

  • No part of the U.S. is favored to have below-average temperatures.


Compare to Baltimore El Nino Winters


Notes: If we have a ‘weak’ El Nino, the odds are split of warmer or colder trend. Out of eight ‘weak’ El Nino years , the warm and cold winters were split. But… The cold years were very cold to skew the average well below normal. This should instinctively lean our chances on the colder side.


NOAA Outlook for Precipitation

NOAA Notes:

  • Wetter-than-average conditions are favored across the southern tier of the U.S., and up into the Mid-Atlantic (that’s us). Northern Florida and southern Georgia have the greatest odds for above-average precipitation this winter.

  • Drier-than-average conditions are most likely in parts of the northern Rockies and Northern Plains, as well as in the Great Lakes and northern Ohio Valley.


NOAA does not give snow amounts, so that leaves us to interpret the simplified maps how we want.


Compare to Baltimore El Nino Winters

Snowfall locally during El Nino winters really depend on how strong the El Nino is. Check out the spread of snow in Baltimore below. This compares all weak, moderate, and strong El Nino Winters. Between 1950 and 2016, there were 23 winters that qualified.


Note:  A ‘weak‘ El Nino has Brough five out of eight comparable winters with slightly less than our average snow. Historically that does not help FITF. But, that is not written in stone.  If El Nino actually leans more moderate, notice the spike in winter snowfall!


Want More Snow?

If we have a colder than average and wetter than average winter based on NOAA’s report, that could easily match up to produce more snow.

  • A Moderate El Nino historically supports a snowy winter.
  • We don’t want it too strong or we get too warm, but that does not look likely.
  • Personally I see Hurricane Michael as a game changer in the pattern set up for the eastern US
  • Other factors I will discuss later: Eastern Pacific storm tracks giving hints for us and the Solar Minimum playing in the snow favor.


Typical El Nino Winter Pattern

The shift of warmer water in the Pacific often injects more energy in the southern branch of the jet stream. This brings more frequent storms across the southern US and into the Mid Atlantic.


NOAA Winter 2019 Video



Also see:

Normal First Frost/Freeze Dates

Will A Wet Summer Bring A Snowy Winter?

Winter Outlook From Two Different Farmers Almanacs


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