Friday, August 12, 2016

Silly Season Returns

Silly season has returned as people descend from bull s--t mountain to provide forecasts or projections for the coming winter.  Accuweather, which recently extended its highly dubious and scientifically unjustified 45-day forecast to 90 days, is the first in line, getting coverage on Unofficial Networks.  
Do yourself a favor, ignore all this crap.  Remember all the hype last year about El Nino?  How did that work out for you?  Now we have a 55–60% chance of La Nina developing this winter (see the Climate Prediction Center Diagnostic discussion released 11 August), so you can expect a healthy does of La Nina hype this fall.  That means lots of forecasts like the one above, which have no discussion of probabilities and suggest high confidence.  That goes over well in the media and makes a good story, but the reality is that La Nina merely weights the weather odds in some portions of the country (not Wasatch snowfall though).  Plus, it's unclear at this time how strong La Nina will be and how much of an impact it will have on the storm track.

So, what kind of ski season will we have in the Wasatch Range?

 I don't know

And nobody else does either.   


  1. Ha, Periods of Bitter Cold in the Dakotas ... Heavy Snowfall in Buffalo ... persistent cold in New England ... and I will go out on a limb an say that San Diego will have periods of fine weather.

    Hell, even I can make that forecast for the coming winter and every other winter to come. Who needs Joel Myers.

  2. '98-'99 was a La Niña winter whenn Baker set its 1140" world record, so it follows that THE WORLD WILL END AND ALL SNOWS WILL HAPPEN IN THE WASATCH FOREVER!!!!!!!! That or WE WILL NEVER SEE SNOW AGAIN!!!!!!!!!

    Thank you for the consistent realism, Jim. Much appreciated. Much needed.

    Bill in North Ogden

  3. Jim, looking at 80 year history it might suggest we are in for a long period of below average totals (10+ years). I wonder if the cycle is tied to the 30 year PDO cycle more than the AGW? Certainly the last 3 seasons are over 2+ sdv dev short of the 10 year moving average, and this kind of low number (even at 9,000 ft)sure points to the AGW issue, less big cold fronts bringing epic 40"+ LES events. Thoughts on that?

    1. I have a number of thoughts in this area:

      1. The climate system is chaotic, not cyclical. That's an important distinction as one can't count on the amplitude and frequency of past "oscillations" to necessarily be repeated in the future.

      2. Although often simplified into a "phase", the PDO is a complex beast reflecting several mechanisms (I've covered in the past - see

      3. AGW means the dice are loaded for warmer than past-average temperatures. That is clear.

      4. AGW does not necessarily mean we should expect a decline in wintertime precipitation. The models do not agree in long-term cool-season total precipitation trends during the over Utah. Some are wetter, a few drier, with the average being as slight increase in precipitation. It is also expected that precipitation will come in fewer events - meaning that we'll see a trend toward larger storms that are spread out a bit more.

      5. All of this means that predictions for this winter are tenuous at best for northern Utah, other than the loading of the dice for warmer than average (note that this doesn't mean warmer than average is guaranteed).