Monday, December 29, 2014

Some Statistics For You...

Let's do another recap comparing last winter to this winter so far up to December 29th.

Winter 2013- 2014

Season snowfall:        15.9"
Days below freezing:  22
Days of snow cover:   24
Coldest reading:          11.3 degrees

Winter 2014-2015

Season snowfall:        11.6"
Days below freezing:  11
Days of snow cover:   13
Coldest reading:          13.7 degrees

While last year we were similar in the snow department, it's clear that we aren't seeing the cold temperatures that we saw last year. This year we had our cold come even earlier than last year and November brought over 10" across the area. This time last year there was no snow on the ground and the cold really got cranking in January.

Last January about 16" of snow fell, which is about the normal snowfall for the area. However in February nearly 40" fell which I believe will our snowiest month this year once the -QBO begins to weaken and allows the strong Pacific jet to weaken as well.

It was clear to me that this year wouldn't be as cold as last year, and that could even be found in my winter forecast ( I also mentioned about an elevated risk of major snowstorms, which I still believe is a strong possibility. Last season we had a lot of events that added up to 72" for a season total, but this year the events could be cut in half but provide more precipitation and still give us a snowier than normal winter.

The pattern seems to be changing a bit and with cold air moving in the snow isn't to far behind. I see potential for storms in January but I want to give it a few more model runs before I open the flood gates of hype.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Let's run the numbers...

Adding to my post yesterday, I'm going to look further into the QBO signal and try to confirm or dismiss any rumor that "winter is over".

Here are the winters with a similar QBO Phase:

Here is how much snow fell in NYC those winters. We need to figure out what year matches up best with this year and what in the world happened in 2005-2006.

So right away I took a look at the ENSO phase. (Basically was it an El Nino, La Nina, El Nada?) Interestingly enough there is no consistency with ENSO phase and -QBO as seen below, but there is one year that's pretty similar. This year (so far) and 1979-1980 both feature a weak El Nino. The very snowy season of 2005-2006 was a neutral phase while the rest were La Nina.

Then I decided to look at the PDO, NAO, AO, AMO, and EPO which all gave me charts looking like the one below. Basically there is no link between these years and those indices. This could mean something else over powered the other indices or basically these winters only have the -QBO in similarity and it doesn't mean much for the winter pattern. Let's keep digging.

I finally looked at the PNA and saw that the trend was there, but nothing to impressive. How ever I had a difficult time finding this years line on the chart.

It was nearly over lapped by 1979-1980. That winter is linking up again with this one. This makes 79-80 a strong candidate for a matching analog winter.  

During most these years the PNA started off positive and went negative at times during the mid to late winter when I also noted NYC saw it's snowiest months, which is not expected. The data is conflicting and points to another force at play here. 

What ever happened in 2005-2006 is not happening this year (so far) in the data. As I could find nothing to match it up with. The 79-80 winter however linked up a little better but still has much that isn't in common with the numbers this year so far. The other 70's winters, had no signs of any linkage. The strong -QBO events of this past decade have way more in common when we start looking at long trend terms and patterns. 

My conclusion, the strong -QBO has minor influence on our winters and is only a percentages of the larger picture in a winter forecast. It alone cannot be used to determine how winter will behave. I made this decision after seeing very little in the way of linkage between this winter and the other winters with similar QBO indices. A strong -QBO can produce both snowy/snow less winters as seen in the data. I would love to use the majority of the 1970's winters as evidence but there are a few multi-decadal oscillations that are in totally opposite regimes today than 30+ years ago. Going off the data from this last decade it looks like we still have a strong possibility for a snowy winter though not at cold as last, which is still in line with my winter forecast. 

 I would love to hear some feedback from this. Any opinions and ideas are welcome. Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where is the cold?

Where is the cold air? It seems like its coming next week, but always seems to keep getting delayed. The problem, a strong Pacific jet as seen below in the left portion of the loop. This is aiding in keeping the cold arctic air locked up over the polar region and when it does make its way into the lower 48 it quickly gets swept away. 

The model are showing much colder air on the way but it could be short lived if this Pacific jet doesn't start to weaken. It's simply not allowing for a more winter like pattern to set up over the country and keeping the NAO and AO in positive phases. Another thing we look for to indicate cold and snowy weather is stratospheric warming events in the higher latitudes, and it looked a few weeks ago that it was occurring but the warm regime has collapsed as seen below.

So what's the cause of this persistent jet? Another meteorologist (DT from Wxrisk, a great guy to follow on Facebook) pointed out it could have to deal with the strong intensity of the QBO. The QBO is an upper level wind pattern over the equator that actually switches direction every year or so. So I looked up the past years with a a similar QBO pattern going into the winter months and highlighted them in yellow, red dots are no match.

The years with a match are pretty few and far between. What really interests me is that 2007-2008 is a close match and had an extremely strong -QBO. Some of the other years that match up are 1979-1980, 1974-1975, and 1970-1971. Here is a run down of how much snow fell in NYC those years and which month was the snowiest.

*07-08  11.9" (Feb 9.0")
*79-80  12.8" (Mar 4.6")
*74-75  13.1" (Feb 10.6")
*70-71  15.5" (Jan 11.4")

Each of the years season snow totals were about half of New York City's average snowfall. That is not a good sign. Interesting enough as the QBO began to weaken in the middle and late winter it finally allowed for bigger snow storms and colder weather. I take this as a sign that our snowiest month is yet to come in NJ. Just remember these are New York's averages and we get about double the snowfall per season so this is just to get an idea of what the trend is. 

I need to do some more research on this. If what I'm seeing here has any merit this winter is not going to be a very memorable one... I need to figure out if the other years had signals that match up with this season, if that's the case my winter forecast is a bust.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A quick meteorology lesson...

Right now the southern portion of NJ is seeing the coldest temperatures. Why? Clear skies there have allowed for heat to escape while up north the cloudy conditions act like a blanket trapping the warmer air. Some places in South Jersey saw 40 degrees for highs and are currently at 23 degrees while Netcong saw a high of 30 and is currently at 28 during the same time frame. Now that's why I love meteorology!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Will we have a white Christmas?

My last post talked about a potential storm for this weekend that the Euro was catching onto. This storm however will not effect us here in New Jersey. The Euro was wrong this time around and yes the GFS model was correct the entire time. I find that odd considering it's been the complete opposite this season.

Below is the map for the "storm" this Sunday off the Euro. Significant change!

So will we be able to get snow on the ground for Christmas? Our next system could clip the eastern seaboard on Tuesday but temperatures look marginal at best, and even if we did squeeze out the 1" necessary for a "white Christmas" I highly doubt it would make it till the 25th. 

On Christmas Eve it looks like it will be miserable outside. A good night to just stay home and watch a good movie with the family. The rain will even be falling as far north as Vermont and Maine.

The probability of a white Christmas looks very low, unless by chance the tail end of this system could put down a quick inch. I would say chances are below 20%.

Now, will it ever snow? The system to watch right now is for December 26th. The set up looks much better for a northeast snow event and plenty of cold air should be in place by then. After this storm system temperatures really start to take a plunge and it looks like winter really gets cranking. 

Sunday, December 14, 2014

"Winter" So Far

I say "Winter" because it hasn't even started yet! Let's recap where we are at right now and compare to the epic season we had last year.

As of December 15th:

Last Year:

Snowfall:                      13.4"
Days of snow cover:        17
Days below freezing:       15

This Year:

Snowfall:                       11.6"
Days of snow cover:         13
Days below freezing:          8

So as of today we are currently behind where we were last year. Last year mid December was cold and snowy, how ever this year it's been more moderate (it hasn't been "warm") with more in the way of rain. By the time we hit Christmas Day last year we had no snow on the ground and winter didn't really get cranking again until mid January. I think we are going to play a game of catch up now...

I have been persistent in saying that this season will NOT be as cold as last season, so we won't catch up with the days of below freezing high temperatures. I'm very confident though that we will surpass last years snow fall total and days of snow cover comparing it to last year by January 15th. You can quote me on this.

The European model already has it's eyes on a major winter storm THIS COMING WEEKEND. Right now the other models are bullish on the idea, but they will all come into agreement over the next couple ideas. This storm system will make the turn up the coast and is capable of dumping double digit snow totals.

I hate to get ahead of myself but the rest of this month from this weekend on looks perfect for winter weather lovers and January doesn't look to disappoint either. You better believe I'm in storm watch mode so keep checking back. If you want a good forecast that is.... :)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


The precipitation this morning never really started as snow for most across the area, instead the upper air warmed way to fast. When the precip started it was actually rain at 32 degrees, but in the image below the rain caused the surface air to cool down to 27 degrees with heavy freezing rain here in Netcong. The blue circle is the clear indication of when the rain started and cooled the column. We didn't rise above freezing till 12:00 noon.

This storm is very different from others. Normally the jet stream would take this storm north and spin it up into Canada, but this is a cut off low pressure system meaning the main jet is way up north and a piece broke off and is just trapping this system over the northeast. The image below helps to illustrate. 

This system could still be around in northern New England till Saturday and Sunday! This storm was born here, intensified here, and will essentially die here until it exhausts all it's energy and the atmosphere stabilizes. 

The system will have some slight re-strengthening and keep spiraling bands down over the region. The tricky part is that these bands will essentially sit over the same areas with little movement and produce accumulating snow. Question is where do they set up? My snow map is a complete shot in the dark and depends on where and if these bands move over New Jersey. 

Don't be shocked to see some surprise snow totals across the the higher terrain and also don't be surprised if your area gets nothing! Okay, I'm ready for the next storm...

Monday, December 8, 2014

Complex Nor' Easter Coming...

This storm is one of the most difficult I've ever had to forecast. Looks like we will see ALL forms of precipitation and lots of wind. Let's start off with EURO surface maps and sounding combos. Early tomorrow morning around 6:00 AM the snow will start and continue for a couple hours. This could accumulate to up one inch in spots but it will quickly change over.

Next we can see the warmer air has won out (just barely). The surface is still around freezing but the mid levels are a couple degrees above. A slight shift could keep the wintry precip over NW NJ longer than expected but this still seems like primarily rain for most. 

As the storm pulls away the colder air can start to make a return, at the surface. There is now a strong mid level inversion late afternoon tomorrow and sleet and freezing could now be an issue after the rain. Yes, we have gone from snow, to rain, sleet and freezing rain, and now the wind is really kicking up.

A few models show a significant shot of snow on the backside of the storm Wednesday morning. (Yeah, now back to snow.) This is where things could get interesting and potentially give us several inches of snow. The whole situation is so complicated and this part of the event depends on how the storm intensifies, and this thing hasn't even formed yet. 

This storm can have an effect on us till Thursday and has many phases:

1. Starts off as snow tomorrow morning (up to 1")
2. Snow changes to a cold rain (temps struggle to break 32)
3. The warm air wins out at mid levels but surface temps are below 32 (freezing rain)
4. Sleet can start to mix in with the freezing rain Tuesday night
5. The winds will get strong tomorrow night
6. The wintry mix now changes to back to snow (accumulation possible)

Tomorrow night I'm going to post a snow map for the end of the event. Doing it now would be setting myself up for failure because the models are all over the place. This storm needs to actually form first before I make a forecast on the "wrap around" snow which rarely actually happens in NJ. 

Sunday, December 7, 2014


I have no changes to map I issued yesterday. Tomorrow I'll start looking into accumulation amounts but most of us will see little if any. There is just a lack of cold air with this system from about 850mb to the surface. Check back tomorrow.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Outlook Map For Next Week

Just a preliminary map for next weeks storm. As of right now there are no models showing NJ having a major snow event. Instead it crushes us with flooding rains on the order of several inches with lots of wind. The models do show snow to start but the low retrogrades inland right over Long Island, which is too close for an NJ snowstorm. Perhaps ending as a little snow as it pulls away. Now a shift of 50 miles east could bring that significant snow line over NE PA into our neighborhood (6+ inches). Let's keep an eye on the exact track of this system....

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Snow Outlook

Start off by saying our warm air advection event Tuesday ended up having a lot of dry air for NW Jersey. The precipitation shield split in two with the heaviest being over the Poconos and central Jersey. By the time steadier precip rates made it to our area the column was too warm, which was a worry of mine. Still some places were able to pick up a nice coating before the change over.

I want to talk about a potential Nor' Easter for early next week. And this looks to be just BARELY cold enough for snow, but I have to admit it's setups like this one that create historical events.

The GEM model really goes all out on this system. With a lack of cold air in place this causes record breaking flooding across the region. How ever this is still too far out to make any judgement, the point of showing this map is that this storm is on the maps.

The UKMET also shows this system but intensifying further north over New England.


I hate the JMA, but it shows it...

The EURO gives us a major winter storm and a blizzard over New England.

And the GFS is out in La La Land....

The GFS, NOGAPS, and extended NAM (all American models) say the storm is a no go. Yet all the other models out there say yes, and given the track record of the American models I can confidently they are garbage runs and to ignore them. In a few days they will start to catch on slowly but there WILL be a storm, question is how far close to NJ does it form and how much cold air will be available. There is nothing more I can say or do except wait for more runs to come in to track this storms path and intensity. 

Check back this weekend. Things could get pretty interesting...

Monday, December 1, 2014

Wintry Weather For Tuesday

The image below shows the start of the event for tomorrow afternoon. Plenty of cold air in this sounding and it's snowing pretty hard. Note the red line is the freezing line and the blue line is temperature.

Just three hours later we start to see the warmer air around 850 this will be the change over to sleet. So we have about a 3 to 4 hour window of snow get the accumulations. After that it's a done deal.

Just another three hours goes by and the warmer air is winning out between 950mb and 800mb. At the surface temperatures are still below freezing. This sounding shows freezing rain which will linger the longest in valley locations where the cold air gets trapped. 

Yet another three hours later the warm air has won out at all levels and it ends as rain for everyone. 

This is a very difficult event to forecast accumulations. It really depends how much snow can fall in the first several hours of the system. If it comes down heavy at an inch an hour we could get a nice surprise. Now if the storm starts off slow with dry air we may have issues getting the ground covered. This map is my best guess but confidence very low. Check back daily for updates.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

More Wintry Weather On It's Way...

While things look to be moderating going into December we will have just enough cold air around for more accumulating snow for Tuesday night into Wednesday. When warmer air over rides the colder air things can get interesting. In most cases these systems start off as snow, then to prolonged period of sleet, and then to freezing rain (especially in the valley locations). By the end of the event most areas end as rain but not long enough to wash the snow away. The key with this system is how much moisture does it bring and how quickly does the snow accumulate before the change over. Once again higher elevations will get the most and your position north. As of right now it doesn't seem to be a big deal and a few areas could get a couple inches at most. More updates tomorrow.

What a little snow cover can do...

We live in such a small state, but we can have vast differences over the 168 miles from Cape May to High Point. Here is my point, near 60's in South Jersey while areas north with snow are stuck in the 30's.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

How was my forecast on this past storm?

Title says it all. Did I forecast well? Am I even worth listening to, or just another social media hype, gloom, and doom attention seeker?

Let's find out! Here is my first initial map issued on Sunday when a lot of meteorologists were still saying the storm system would go out to sea. My significant snow area outlined was near 100% accuracy keeping the major cities just miles out of the storms reach. Go ahead, match up the lines with what fell, I'll wait.

Top Map: My outlook on Sunday
Bottom Map: What actually fell

This isn't a "Northeast US" blog so how did I do with the New Jersey higher resolution map. I pretty much nailed the forecast for south Jersey and for north and west. However I did go a little over board with the snowfall for Hudson, eastern Union, eastern Bergen, and Essex counties by 1"-2". In my final forecast I did note that urban areas would see the lower end of the contour values and the highest terrain would see the highest contour values. My highest amount forecast was for 12" TOPS in the state, and the highest total was in Wantage at 11.7". Accuracy was near 85%, not bad for predicting the future.

I do need to point out that I did say most areas N&W would be all snow yet for about an hour it started as rain. Only High Point started as all snow. I did over look the warmer air at the surface and I need to keep this in mind for future events.

Top Map: My forecast issued Tuesday
Bottom Map: What actually fell

I did learn a few things from this storm from my mistakes. It's not easy to get accumulating in the eastern sections this time of year and starting off with a lack of cold air in place. Also, when the precipitation get's lighter in intensity it allows the return of warmer air at the surface and cause a change over very quickly.

This blog wasn't intended to gloat or brag about how I did, but to point out my mistakes and what I did correct and try to improve the forecast for the next storm. I'm going to try to do this for every major event regardless of the result. 

Keep checking back for updates about what's in store for December!

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Interesting Statz

Just some weather statz for your turkey day. First off this November is the snowiest in our lifetimes with 8"-14" of snow across NW Jersey. Occurring just three years after the snowiest October on record in 2011 when 6"-18" fell (elevation dependent). On top of that in 2010 around 50" fell in February alone. This decade will definitely be remembered as a snowy one.

Since 2004 this is how many of the holidays were white:

-Halloween ..........................2
(2011, 2008)

(2014, 2013, 2010, 2005)

(2012, 2009, 2007)

Yes, in the last decade we had more white Thanksgivings than on Christmas. And I really stretched out that 2007 where a coating was on the ground, barely. Not something you would like to hear but currently we have had 5X times the amount of snow than this time last year...

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Final Call Map

My final map for the storm. Surface temperatures are going to be a struggle in eastern areas for a good part of the storm, however the higher terrain will be seeing accumulation from pretty much the beginning of the event. Urban areas that radiate slower are going to see the lower end of the forecast snow contours and accumulations will be limited to colder surfaces. The 9" - 12" range is only for the highest terrain of the NW counties and a few of these areas will see double digit totals. Start time of the event will be during the height of morning rush, that gives me a couple hour cushion 

Monday, November 24, 2014

Preliminary Snow Map

I'm going to start right off with the snow map then explain my reasoning. Please note, this is a preliminary map and the final forecast one will be issued tomorrow night.

I'm being very conservative in the urban areas and very generous in the northwestern corner of the state, and I have very good reasons for that. The above map has three points displayed on it. EWR  is Newark Airport (5 feet above seas level), MMU is Morristown Airport(180 feet above seas level), and 12N is Andover airport (600 feet above seas level) .

Now let's take those points on the map and look at a vertical slice of the atmosphere.

**Also note that in these soundings there is no warm air inversions. It's either raining, snowing, or both. Sleet and freezing rain will not be a concern.

Newark Airport (KEWR):

The two blue lines represent temperature and moisture in the air. When they come together the air is saturated and could be used to identify a cloud deck or if it's precipitating. Obviously here precipitation is hitting the surface in Newark, but if you look in the red circle the temperature during the height of the storm is well above the freezing line or 0 Celsius line at the surface. This is going to make it hard for the SNOW that is falling in this sounding to accumulate. So while it will snow here most of it will melt on contact. 

Morristown Airport (KMMU):

Now we are getting closer. The temperature in Morristown is just above freezing here and snow is probably sticking to colder surfaces and the temperature drops off dramatically with altitude so nearby hill tops are already seeing accumulations on most surfaces. 

Andover Airport (K12N):

At no point during this storm does Andover show a temperature exceeding the freezing mark. Snow at 32 degrees will stick to all surfaces and this is why I expect 6" snowfall here. This airport is only at 600 feet on the western side of the highlands. Areas above 1,000 feet will be in the upper 20's during the event and be able to get higher snowfall totals.

I hope all this helps to explain my ideas. I don't just issue a map with pretty colors without seriously looking at the situation honestly and without bias (even though I do live in the bulls eye). Check back tomorrow for my final map. 

Sunday, November 23, 2014


Here is my first guess for the storm system that WILL be riding up the eastern seaboard Wednesday into early Thursday. Question is how close to the coast does it travel? A shift of just 30 miles is significant and could mean the difference between NYC seeing a rain event or an all snow event. Tomorrow I'll issue a preliminary snow map and try to narrow down on specific totals.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Forecast for the rest of November

With the latest cold blast starting to lose it's grip on the continental US it's time to look forward and see what the long range says for the end of the month. Let's start by looking at the forecast map for tomorrow. 

Friday will be the last day of the arctic assault as warmer air is building to the west. Temperatures should range between 28 at the highest elevations for highs and the middle 30's toward eastern sections. Yet another day of the lake effect snow machine adding another 1 to 3 feet just south of center of Buffalo. 

The following map is off the new parallel GFS which seems to be doing a fantastic job with longer range forecasting. Much better than the current version of the GFS.

Monday looks to be the warmest day with temperatures in the early morning approaching 60 degrees ahead of the low pressure system. Once the front goes through temperatures will drop and back in the fridge we go, though not as cold as this last arctic blast. 

Thanksgiving looks to be a chilly day with temperatures in the 30's, and perhaps even more lake effect for western New York. The rest of the month looks questionable as the new GFS shows moderation in the temperatures but the EURO tells the complete opposite. Should be interesting to see in the coming days which model ends up being correct. 

(EURO model NOV 30th)
(Parallel GFS NOV 30th)

Check back for updates and let's see if the new GFS is going to be able to top the highly praised EURO. 

Monday, November 10, 2014

Winter Forecast 2014-2015

The follow winter forecast is based on current observations and historical data and will only forecast temperatures departures for average, snowfall percent of average, precipitation percent of average and some added forecast comments.

Here is the outline for the forecast:

A. Last winter compared to my forecast

B. Big Picture (driving mechanisms)
1. Arctic Sea Ice & Siberian Snow cover
2. ENSO phase
3. NAO & AO & EPO
4. PDO & AMO
5. QBO

C. The Checklist

D. Final Forecast
1. Temperature anomalies
2. Liquid Equivalent percent of average
3. Snowfall compared to average

A. Last winter

Here are some statistics:

-Total snowfall 71.2"
-94 days of snow cover
-66 days below freezing high temperatures
-Deepest snow pack was 33.6" on February 13th
-61 consecutive days of snow cover Mid-Jan through Mid-March
-Coldest daytime high was 2.1 degrees on January 7th
-Biggest snowfall was 17.1" on February 13th
-Earliest snowfall was November 12th with 0.5"
-Latest snowfall was April 15th with 1.0"

Now let's take a look at some charts:




When I look at the above statistics from last winter I see a very cold winter overall with above average snowfall. The cold is what made last winter stand out since the snow that fell never got a chance to melt before the next storm and so on. The cold came early and lasted through a good portion of the winter and even right into the summer months. The 71.2" of snow that fell is above the 10 year average of 51" but it was nothing extreme or record breaking. If it wasn't for the February 13th storm that dropped 15" - 20" then seasonal snowfall would have been at average.

Now was my forecast from last year correct? And should you believe anything I have to say this year? Let's find out. (

Last year I was expecting the coldest and snowiest weather (with respect to average) just to our west since I was forecasting the AO and NAO phases to stay mainly positive almost all winter. I was correct on the phase prediction, in fact it's safe to say I did a very good job with that. However, I over looked something that shifted my thinking just to our west by few hundred miles. The Eastern Pacific Oscillation was something I didn't take into consideration and it seems to have been the cause of the extreme cold since the other forcing mechanisms pointed in another direction. 

The image below pretty much sums up what happened last winter if we could shift the core of the cold a little more east. This will play another role this winter and honestly I see very similar conditions shaping up for this winter, but that's for part B.

B. The Big Picture 

When forecasting for the season you must look at EVERYTHING. Some people will look at just one or two aspects, compare it to winter 1995-1996 (1978, 2003, 2010...) and then the forecast is a bust. I've found out through research of the Arctic Oscillation that in New Jersey it only has a correlation coefficient of 14%-21% with respect to cold and snowy conditions, which means that yes it's significant BUT only a piece of the puzzle. If one piece of the meteorological puzzle is missing the picture it makes could be altered. 

1. Arctic Sea Ice & Siberian Snow Cover

Every single forecast I've seen on this winter has covered the above average snow cover over Siberia and what it means for us. Statistically whenever this occurs it generally ends up in a cold snowy winter over North America and some even relate it to negative Arctic Oscillation patterns. In my opinion statistics are great and can tell us a lot but there have been years where above average snow cover in Siberia has NOT been in favor for a cold snowy winter. I'll put extra consideration about this into my forecast but I won't let this dictate my overall product.

The images below show the sea ice and snow cover up till November 5th of this year and last year on the same day. The sea ice is about the same in area but as you can see the northern hemisphere snow cover is SIGNIFICANTLY ahead of last year. Will the cold come earlier this year than last year? Chances look favorable.

2. ENSO Phase

The El Nino Southern Oscillation can have huge effects on the weather in north America and is a household name to many. I can go for a very long time about this but I will make this short and sweet. A weak phase of El Nino is in the forecast for the winter months and unlike last year when we had a weak phase of La Nina (complete opposite). Perhaps this could throw more moisture into the mix for this winter which is why I would predict a boost in overall precipitation amounts than the average. When it comes to temperatures I don't believe it will have a warming effect on us like the extreme event that happened in 1998. 

3. NAO & AO & EPO

The NAO and AO are blocking patterns in the atmosphere that vary by day, week, and months with no real forecast tools to predict more than a week out accurately. Generally negative phases in both mean cold and snowy weather. Certainly will be this winters wild card and when they tank expect increase chances for harsh weather.

The EPO is similar to the NAO but is centered over the northern Pacific and influenced by the ocean itself. Last winter saw this went negative and caused arctic air to be displaced from Alaska to center of the continent. 


The PDO has seen a flip in the last few months. It went negative back in 2007 and seemed to have went postive earlier this year. Whether it's just visiting the positive end or made its official switch it looks like increased precipitation this year with better forcing for Alaskan ridging assuming it stays in place. 

The AMO on the other hand is still in it's warm phase which will dominate the rest of this decade. This generally means more precipitation and warmer temperatures in the northern hemisphere. Not a end all for our winter because we have had plenty of rough winters while this phase has been in the red zone. However yet another clue points toward more precipitation.

5. QBO

 Last winter a huge concern for me was the QBO phase (an up level oscillation that can effect NAO and AO values). It went positive which meant the AO and NAO would be primarily positive during the winter. Was I right? Answer is yes. The chart below shows both phases last season staying mostly positive.

QBO 2012 till Present:
This season looks much more favorable for the NAO and AO to be negative. Primarily negative this time around. Another sign this winter is going to be rough.

C. The Checklist

(red= bad for snow lovers / blue= bad for snow haters / black= equal chances

-AMO (warm phase)

-QBO (easterly-negative)
-NAO (negative influence by QBO)
-AO (negative influence by QBO)
-PDO (warm phase=Alaska Ridge)
-Weak El Nino (add moisture)
-Arctic Sea Ice Extent (large increase)
-Siberian Snow Extent (well above average)

D. The Final Forecast

I have not included everything I researched for this winter forecast into this write up. In fact only about half made here for you to see. I still could not find a single item to put into the checklist that could indicate a mild and dry winter pattern. If there was ever a perfect set up this is it, and it seems quite obvious. 

1. Temperature Anomalies

The easterly QBO and it's influence on NAO and AO, the artic sea ice, the Siberian snow extent, PDO forcing an Alaskan ridge all point toward cooler weather. How ever a weak El Nino could help to serve some slight warming effect but not enough to alter this forecast. I can't find a single piece of evidence that would point toward a warmer than average, but I don't think it will be as cold as last winter when we had weak La Nina conditions.

Overall forecast for winter temperature anomalies is BELOW average

2. Liquid Equivalent Percent of Average 
All indices I've looked at suggests increased precipitation amounts for the eastern US. More precipitation could mean more intense storm systems than last year and increases the likelihood for a block bluster snow event measured in feet rather than inches. Also could mean heavier rain events as well on the warm side of a low pressure system. Unfortunately for the south west I don't see much in the way of relief for the record breaking drought.  

Overall Precipitation for New Jersey is ABOVE average

3. Snowfall Percent of Average
North Jersey has a wide range of seasonal snowfall totals. From around 24" near the city to as much as 55" in places like Highland Lakes and West Milford. My personal 10 year average for Netcong comes out to about 51" how ever areas with lower elevation just minutes away may only average about 40". Still the state as a whole does not see that much snow and just one event could make or break a seasonal forecast. One storm could bring Newark's seasonal average and could miss another portion of the state entirely and end up with below average snow. 

This season looks to bring above average precipitation which increases the likely hood of above average snowfall overall. Even if half of the events fall as rain, the other half could still bring average to above snowfall. With temperatures expected to be below average in combination with more precipitation chances look likely for MUCH ABOVE average snowfall.

This sums up the winter forecast and all we can do now is ride it out and see if the prediction hold true. There are sure to be times of extreme cold events and even times where it could feel spring like. The overall averages however will show that winter 2014-2015 is going to be remembered as a cold and snowy one.