For those of you that always keep an eye on the long term forecast, one of the biggest clues to where things are headed is the state of the ENSO (El Nino & La Nina) in the central/tropical Pacific. The Climate Prediction Center monitors the trend and issues an in-depth monthly discussion on what is happening.
The latest ENSO discussion has been issued and it looks like there is a chance that a weak El Nino could develop later this year. The CPC is saying it is equally likely that El Nino could form or that the ocean surface temps remain neutral. Why is this important? If an El Nino forms, we would most likely have a warmer than normal Winter. Almost every Winter for the last couple of decades with an El Nino pattern in the Pacific has led to warmer than normal temperatures and less snow than normal. The stronger the El Nino is, the warmer the Winter has been - typically.
You can view the computer model output here. Of course, the models were run in May and May is a long time from December, so you have to be a bit cautious with the forecast this early in the year. Also, unfortunately, the average computer forecast has not improved much over the last decade. What are called the “dynamical” forecasts have improved slightly, but there has not been any improvement elsewhere since the decade of the 1990s (according to a recent paper in the bulletin of the American Meteorological society).
Have a nice Tuesday! Meteorologist Justin Loew.