NOAA 2016-17 Winter Forecast ~ OPENSNOW

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Warning
Long-range forecasts are rarely accurate and most of last season’s forecasts were incorrect. Also, these forecasts are for three-month averages.  In short, don’t put too much stock in this forecast.  OPENSNOW

Temperature: December, January, and February
The northern tier of the US has the best chance to experience colder-than-average temperatures. This also includes Canada, which isn’t shown because this is a forecast produced by the US government.

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Precipitation: December, January, and February

Once again, the northern tier of the US (and Canada) has the best chance of above-average precipitation. Along with a good chance of below average temperatures, this could translate into above average snowfall.

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Influence of La Nina
The maps above look similar to what we’d expect during a typical La Nina winter. During a La Nina, the ocean water temperature west of South America is colder than average and this affects weather patterns over North America (as well as other areas around the world).

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Will we experience a La Nina this winter?
The latest forecasts show a 50-60% chance of experiencing a La Nina this winter. Those are not compelling odds.

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What does this mean?
Lots of forecasters are jumping on the La Nina bandwagon, which points to higher-than-average snowfall across the northern US and into Canada. But, there is only a 50-60% chance of a La Nina, and even if there is a La Nina, it will likely be weak to moderate at best.

Last season, we experienced a strong El Nino, so most forecasters felt confident that our weather pattern would be similar to what we get during a typical El Nino year. But that turned out to be wrong.

Don’t place too much confidence in these long-range forecasts. The weather pattern that we expect from La Nina could easily shift a bit east or west compared to what the maps show above. Also, a three-month average of temperature and precipitation doesn’t tell you when to find the best powder days, so these long-range forecasts are of somewhat limited usefulness.

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