Wednesday, October 19, 2016


The video below gives the details behind my 2017 Winter Forecast. This is for those of you who are interested in the forecasting techniques. Enjoy!


Original Simplified Text Version

Welcome to the long awaited 2017 Winter Outlook! So what will this winter bring? That always is the million dollar question and often times only mother natures knows the answer. However, a forecaster has to try to make their best calculated estimated on what will occur based on observations, history and long range weather models. Those are the three components that go into developing my forecast. Starting the summer months I begin to observe what is going on in the atmosphere. I then take a look at how these observations might evolved based on history and model projections. As we enter the fall months, I can start to observe in real time how the atmosphere is behaving, find historical years where it has behaved similar, then compare with what the long range models show for the winter season. 





Pacific Northwest:

  • Colder than normal temperatures with rounds of heavy mountain snows due to an active pacific jet stream
New England:
  • A very cold and stormy winter. It will snow frequently this year, especially in the mountain areas. This should make for a banner ski season with well above normal snowfall. 
  • 3 major storms (12+ inches)
Mid Atlantic:
  • I expect an active back and forth winter in this region. Temperatures will be chilly but I do not expect a brutally cold winter. 
  • There will be a lot of storm activity but it will not all be snow. Expect everything ranging from rain events to ice and snow. 
  • For the northern Mid-Atlantic (light blue area) expect frequent wintery precipitation which should average out to just above normal snowfall. 
  • For areas a little further south including Philadelphia and Baltimore/Washington expect average snowfall amounts due to ice and rain cutting down on seasonal accumulations.
  • 1-2 major storms (10+ inches) can be expected in the light blue zone.
Southern States:
  • Not much in the way of snowfall. Chilly at times but your standard run of the mill winter with cold shots followed by spells of warmer than normal weather. 
Ohio Valley/Great Lakes Regions:
  • Very cold for the northern areas in this region (Great Lakes) and slightly colder than normal for the southern areas (Ohio Valley)
  • Above average snowfall due to the frequency of storm systems passing by ( light to moderate snow events)
  • 1 major storm
Western Ski Areas:
  • Decent ski season overall for central and northern Rockies 
  • Some areas more on the southern end of the Rockies might see below normal snowfall due to persistent ridges of high pressure keeping the storm tracks more to the north. 

So as you can see I am predicting an overall very decent coast to coast winter! Skiers should be looking forward to 2017 whether you are planing to head out west or head up into New England. 


  1. This is what I was expecting and agrees reasonably well with what accuweather predicts. For the NYC metro area, you say snowfall should be just above average. I'm guessing the average is close to 30 inches so we can expect somewhere from 30-40 inches total this year? (although only 1 significant winter storm can contribute significantly to totals if timing is right and can bring up the total amounts).

    1. That is correct I expect 30 to 40 inches for New York City there will be a lot of storm activity but this year especially will be more mixed precipitation events..this will cut down and seasonal accumulations. NW NJ might do a little better if cold air hangs in during these events. Regardless I expect new England to be the jackpot this year..stay tuned for more details in tomorrow's post

  2. Willy, I think that your forecast is generally reasonable. But a couple of points. First, as any other WX buff who reads your blog knows, a lot of weather commentators are putting out long-term winter forecasts right now. I myself have read about 5 or 6 of them other than yours, not counting NOAA and the Farmers Almanac. NOAA probably sez too little with too much support, and Farmers Almanac probably sez too much with too little support. But a majority of the other analysts are clearly stating that this is an especially challenging year, and that skill and confidence levels for Winter 16-17 forecasts are comparatively low.

    Second, let me offer a few points that may or not be relevant, given my fairly elementary skills with weather patterns. First, La Nina / ENSO -- it seemed gone a few weeks back, but may be making a comeback, albeit at a moderate level at best. However, the recent trend regarding the GofAlaska "blob", which powered the west coast ridge / roller-coaster jet stream pattern of the 13-14 and 14-15 seasons, seems to be weakening the warm water anomaly. Some say that the more La Nina, the less blob. It bears close watching, is all I'm saying.

    As to the PDO in general, it's been declining since May, nothing too surprising, but is at a relative low level (although still positive) in September. But that in itself is not very predictive, as sometimes the PDO jumps up by January, although sometimes it has continued to decline thru the winter. I gather that this is linked to the GofA temp anomaly and maybe ENSO, again it bears watching.

    I've read about Judah Cohen and the Siberian snow thing. And yes, he sez that the early snow over Mongolia means that the AO is gonna be quite negative and loosey-goosey all winter. But others point out that this pattern hasn't been all that reliable over the past few winters. From my non-professional view, it's hard to grasp why snow cover south of the 60 deg line is going to mess with pressure and heights over the North Pole, or open up a flow gap over Nunavet. And what about the missing snow in Alaska and the tip of Siberia, closer to the Arctic action? Perhaps that is a lagged function of the blob and PDO, and with their decline the Alaskan snows will fall. But as to any early impact on the AO or unusual long-term impact on it . . . again, the proof will be in the pudding. SST spikes seemed to tell us the most about the polar vortex last season, and they just seem to come when they will, unless you're really a sunspot expert.

    Next, others have noticed the Great Lake temp anomalies, and indicate that when the northern jet comes near Superior, Huron, Michigan and Erie, there could well be a lot of lake effect snow in the Midwest and western NY State. But such interaction might sometimes weaken the impact of the jet further south and east. As you note, the high SSTA's along the Atlantic Coast could fuel some heavy Nor'easter events along the DC-Boston corridor. But with all of the uncertainties for 16-17, it will be back-and-forth as to where the rain-sleet-snow lines set up. They could move around a lot from storm to storm.

    As to the NAO and its cousin the Greenland block, some people are confident about a strong block / negative NAO season setting up, and others aren't. Sounds like another wildcard in the mix.

    Given the potential uncertainties, perhaps you might want to issue an update to your winter view every month or so? OK, the one in early February won't count for too much, but by mid-December perhaps some of the patterns that will shape January and February will be in better focus.

    Just my .02. Overall however, thanks Willy and keep up the good work! Jim G

    1. Clarification -- ST spikes, not SST -- stratospheric temp spikes over the Arctic region. Jim G