2017-2018 Seasonal Outlook
Welcome back kiddies, hope you had a good summer. It was a beautiful one. Now it's time to put away the Mankinis and wax up the skis and boards.
Last season was pretty strong when it came to natural snow...and I'm thinking we are in for a repeat this year.
Before I get to the seasonal outlook, let me introduce myself for those of you that didn't get a chance to read this blog last year. My name is Keith Carson, I'm a meteorologist for NewsCenter Maine (NBC), previously of The Weather Channel. I'm a habitual line crosser that loves weather, skiing and the Loaf. I think you'll find my forecasting to be accurate, at least most of the time...and I'll focus specifically on Sugarloaf.
Now I'll be the first to admit seasonal forecasting is a VERY difficult game. Even the best of the best verify about 60-62% of the time, which is roughly 10-12% better than pure guessing. But some years scream to us a bit more than others, and this upcoming winter has a two very strong correlations:
1. LA NINA, BABY
El Nino and La Nina are some of our favorite tools as seasonal forecasters. It's not the end-all-be-all, but it can often tilt our season in a direction. In the case of Maine, the key to La Nina is the STRENGTH of the phase.
You'll notice that weak La Nina doesn't do much for us. And, actually, strong doesn't either. But moderate is our sweet spot. Almost all long range ensemble members have us peaking in the moderate range this winter. With a front-end loaded bias.
For those of you not familiar with La Nina, it is an area of cooler than average SST off the coast of South America that has a notable impact on our large scale patterns in the United States.
As you can see, the key to the La Nina is that it places the mean jet stream position near or just south of Maine. That means a more active storm track, and a better chance of hooking a few lows into the Gulf to bomb out.
2. WARM FALL
This correlation is one I'm kind of trail blazing at the moment...it's not as proven. But we just came off a record breaking fall, specifically October. On a whim I decided to look at the top 10 Warmest Octobers on record in Portland and Bangor and then check the snowfall that following winter. The results amazed me:
If you enjoy counting you'll notice that 17/20 winters following a warm October were ABOVE AVERAGE snowfall. When I added Concord, NH the correlation got even more uncanny: 26/30.
Now the only problem I had with this connection is that it was a correlation and didn't imply causation. That is; we didn't know WHY this was happening. That's always a dangerous thing in forecasting. There could be all kinds of unrelated correlations out there: "Every time Carson rips his undersized suit coats, it rains the following Thursday."
But when I did some more research with a meteorologist friend of mine in Boston we came up with that fact that, on average, all those winters ACTED like a La Nina as far as jet stream position even if they weren't technically a La Nina via SST.
SO WHATCHA SAYIN' MAN?
We've gone above average for the season basically everywhere except northern Aroostook county. (I did that because I felt they might get left out of the snow shield from these deeper Nor'easters.
If our seasonal indicators do us right, this should be a strong season.