2016-2017 Winter Forecast

Wow, time flies fast. Every year, time flies faster and it is almost Christmas. Winter is upon us again. Last winter we had a strong El Nino. This time around, we have Neutral conditions, neither La Nina or El Nino. Usually when there is a strong El Nino, La Nina follow. Not this time around. Other factors to consider are Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO), Northeast Pacific Warm Pool (NEPWP), Roaring Forties, Equatorial Indian Ocean, and Tropical South Atlantic. However, since this El Nino is large and strong and has significant impact, it will weigh in more than other factors listed. Since, we have a strong El Nino, here are my analog winters. Here are the analog winters I came up with.

1878-1879
1897-1898
1900-1901
1912-1913
1919-1920
1926-1927
1931-1932
1958-1959
1983-1984
2003-2004

I chose these winters because the previous winter was El Nino as they are mostly strong El Nino’s. Those analog had weak La Nina or Neutral. Here is a table I created to identify strongest analogs.

Year ENSO Strong AMO PDO NEPWP EIOI TSAI R40I Total
1878-1879 1 1   1 1   1 5
1897-1898 1 1 1 1       4
1900-1901 1 1 1 3
1912-1913 1 1
1919-1920 1 1
1926-1927 1 1 1 3
1931-1932 1 1 1 1       4
1958-1959 1 1 1 1 1 1   6
1983-1984 1   1 1 1 1 1 6
2003-2004   1 1 1 1 1 1 6

I look at seven ocean patterns based on November averages. The cutoff for further analysis is four. We can eliminate these winters.
1900-1901
1912-1913
1919-1920
1926-1927

The analogs I will be looking at are
1878-1879
1897-1898
1931-1932
1958-1959
1983-1984
2003-2004

Let’s start with the ever important temperature. All divisional temperatures and rainfall were plotted with NOAA/NCDC Climate Division data: Mapping and Analysis Web Tool. All maps were generated with 20th Century Reanalysis Monthly Composites.

2016-2017_analog_divisional_temperature_standardizedanomaly-strongest-analog

This is a climate division map of the Lower 48. It does not have 1878-1879. Most of America saw cooler than normal winter, especially in Utah and Colorado. It is also colder in Texas. This would suggest a cooler than normal winter for most of America. The exception is in the Southeast where it is either normal or slightly warmer. What effects does it have around the world?

2016-2017_analog_wintertemperatureanomaly_world-strongest-analog

This one has 1878-1879. Alaska, Kamchatka Peninsula, Southeast Asia, India, Central Asia, and Arctic look to be cooler than normal. The Eastern Tip of Russia, Southeast US, Northeast Canada, North Central Siberia, Sudan, and Chad are warmer than normal. If one is wondering what the winter of 1878-1879 was like, here it is.

djf-1878-1879_wintertemperatureanomaly

It was cooler winter for North America with the exception of Northeast Canada and Greenland. It was also cooler throughout Siberia and Arctic. The NWS New York City has data from 1869 from Central Park. The first one is Normals and Extremes Central Park, NY (1869 to Present) and Average Monthly & Annual Temperatures at Central Park. The winter of 1878-1879 was a cold one with an average of 29.2°F. The average winter temperature in New York City is 35.1°F, which is 6 degrees below normal. The NWS Chicago shows a cooler than normal winter in 1878-1879, but not super cold. The previous winter of 1877-1878 is the warmest on record. It remains the warmest winter to this day. Chicago’s warmest winters occur in El Nino winters. No surprise there as the jet stream goes further south than usual. All Columbus, Ohio Data has the worst winters and 1878-1879 is considered one of the worst winters for Columbus. This would suggest that 1878-1879 was a cold winter for America including Texas.

The reason for 1878-1879 winter to be cold is due to negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and Arctic Oscillation (AO), which is ridging over Northeast Canada and Greenland. A positive NAO and AO is troughing over Greenland and Northteast Canada.

djf-1878-1879_winter500mbgeopotentialanomalynh

What does the upper level look like in analog winters?

2016-2017winter500mbgeopotentialanomalynh-strongest-analog

There is ridging south of Iceland, South of Bering Sea, and North Central Siberia. There is troughing over Eastern Russia, off the Eastern Seaboard of US, and Western Canada. This would suggest that cold blasts will be from the NAO rather than East Pacific Oscillation (EPO) and West Pacific Oscillation (WPO). It shows that if EPO and WPO are positive, while NAO is negative, there can be cold blasts. Keep in mind, EPO, WPO, and NAO can change quickly.

Wonder what winter will be like in the rain department?

2016-2017_analog_divisional_rain_standardizedanomaly-strongest-analog

From Texas to Maine, it looks to be wetter than normal. Same goes with part of the Midwest and Western US. California looks to be somewhat drier than normal. Again, this does not include 1878-1879, which I have included.

djf-1878-1879_winterprecipitationanomaly_world

Florida, California, Scandinavia, Iceland, Iran, Korea, Japan, and Western Canada were drier than normal in 1878-1879. It was very wet in Texas, Hawaii, Southwestern US, Caribbean, Spain, Portugal, France, Mediterranean region of Europe and Southwest Asia, and India in 1878-1879. Here is a worldwide map with the analogs.

2016-2017_analog_winterprecipitationanomaly_world-strongest-analog

It is the same general areas that are wet and dry. Interestingly, Western Canada is wetter, while Southwest is drier in analog winters. Texas has an average rainfall in analog winters.

How were winters like in these analog years? Were there cold blasts? Cold events are either in America or Texas. Rankings are temperature average since 1895.

1878-1879
Many areas in Northern US experience colder than normal winters.
1878 was a cold year for Europe, especially for United Kingdom.
The previous winter of 1877-1878 was very warm. In fact it is known as the year without winter in 1877.

Ranking
N/A

1897-1898
Reports of sleet fell on December 3-4, 1897 in Houston.
Cold blasts hits Houston in early January 1898. A low of 27°F on January 2, 1898.

Ranking
America’s 58th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 63rd coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 47th coldest winter on record.

1931-1932
Houston was struck by a cold blast in March. Snow fell on March 10-11, 1932 in Houston. It remains the latest measurable snowfall to fall in Houston. A low of 27°F occurred on March 9, 10, and 13, 1932.

Ranking
America’s 104th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 87th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 89th coldest winter on record.

1958-1959
A cold blasts hits Texas in early January 1959. A low of 21°F was recorded on January 4, 1959 in Houston. Another cold blasts hits two weeks later with low of 25°F on January 22, 2016.

Ranking
America’s 38th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 24th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 20th coldest winter on record.

1983-1984
December 1983 had a huge cold blasts that set many records throughout America. Many areas experienced their coldest Christmas on record.

Ranking
America’s 19th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 8th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 10th coldest winter on record.

2003-2004
Northeast US was hit by cold blasts in January 2004. Boston had their coldest January since 1893. Many areas saw over 100 inches of snow, especially in Northern New York.
Snow fell in San Antonio and Austin on Valentine’s Day 2004.

Ranking
America’s 78th coldest winter on record.
Texas’s 88th coldest winter on record.
Upper Texas Coast’s 51st coldest winter on record.

I am not suggesting we will see a cold blast on par with December 1983 or January 2004. It is possible this winter could see a cold blast. Interesting to note that 1958-1959 and 1983-1984 were cold winters for America and Texas.

I think this winter could be a cooler winter. I would not be surprised to hear of a major cold blast this coming winter. It should be an interesting one for sure.

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