Winter Weather Predictions for the Mid-Atlantic: 2008-2009 Ski Season 16
By Ed Fowler, Guest Author

I am not a meteorologist. That being said, I keep a journal that spans 12 years of conditions at the local resorts. I spend about eight hours each October analyzing seven or more combined forecasts. The data originates from almanacs, weather companies, government agencies and energy companies. Almanacs are used for the extraterrestrial effects on the Earth’s weather including the Sun and sunspots.

Recap from last year: Last year was a bit better than the previous year. The early January thaw and rain did appear again like the year before. In fact, looking over the 12 year conditions journal, the area seems to frequently experience an early January thaw. Snowfall was about 50% of normal due to the slight drought and the fact that rain fell in January and not snow. We did have a cold February.

Analysis of the combined sources can be summed up in four letters: COLD. Keep in mind that the local resorts make snow, so the main factors for good ski conditions in the mid-Atlantic are temperature and humidity in coverage conditions.

The summary of my predictions:

  1. The temps will average below normal in December 2008, and February 2009.

  2. The temps will average .5 degrees below the 30 year average.

  3. Coldest winter in five years.

  4. Snowfall will be below normal but close to normal (30 inches is normal).

  5. Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation will go negative in late November bringing cold air.

  6. ENSO El Nino, La nina - Neutral through March.

  7. Sun output low, little if any sunspots which dictates less energy reaching the Earth.

So will it be the best in five years? Time will tell.

The weather patterns are set for a cold December and a great start to the season. It was snowing just a few days ago in the Northeast, before November even arrived. Low sun output and lack of sunspots coincide with an early winter and late spring. Short range weather for the resorts, for 6 to 14 days, can be found on the web site during the season. Twice weekly coverage and conditions are rated using a proprietary system perfected over 10 years.


- Normal temps 30 year average NOAA

- Nov 55H 36L Dec 45H 28L Jan 40H 23L


- EIA - Short-Term Energy Outlook.

- WSI Corporation - Weather Driven Business Solutions.

- 2008-09 Appalachians Long-Range Weather Forecast and Prediction - The Old Farmer’s Almanac.

- Farmers almanac 2008-2009_outlook.

- AccuWeather Winter 08-09.

- NOAA Reports.

- Easternuswx - Forum for weather, Winter 08-09.


- My personal blog journal 12 years.

About the Author

Ed Fowler has been skiing and racing for over a decade. He is Team Captain of Zardoz Renegades, runs a Night Club Pass program and enjoys photography.

Reader Comments

November 2, 2008
05 was a good year for Snow in march & april..06 negative, 07 positive, 08 negative...09 will positivley be great!..Keep up on the Sunspots & any other weather phenoms for us Buddy!
DCSki Reader
November 2, 2008
Good article, but on a seperate note.

I just read some reports on this site of 12 inches of snow in the valley last week. Skiing was great for days(probably just as good as any day last year) but at max it was maybe 6 inches.

The funny thing is people reporting these totals of 12 inches of snow probably don't even live in WV. There were two foot drifts some places but it snowed about 6 inches in reality.

I guess it is kind of like fish'n. Some people catch a 6 inch fish and tell everybody its 12 inches long to make their story sound better or to prove a point.

I hope this season that realistic snowfall amounts are reported so people reading will know what the real conditions are like. Because everyone knows the resorts always exagerate snowfall amounts. It would be nice to know you could come to this site and get accurate reports.
November 2, 2008
The 12 inch snowfall amount was recorded by a weather observer at 3800'...he is very accurate. There was of course ground melt (Ground still warm) & settling during this 3 day event but much less so as you head up in elevation..which would max out at 4500' at Weiss Knob over looking the valley....but you are right to an extent..I caught a 18 inch Grey Trout yesterday that measured 16 inches!
DCSki Reader
November 2, 2008
I guess the difference is then how much falls from the sky vs how much is really on the ground? One being "scientific" the other being valuable to skiers or anyone else who measures snow by how much is on the ground.

I'd be a little dissapointed with the reporting if I drove two hours to a resort that reported 10 inches and when I got there there was only 4 inches and there explanation was "well 10 inches fell but only 4 accumulated". (or if they reported 8 trails open and there was only one skiable trail from the top of the mountain, but that is a different story)

I took a ruler with me when I skied Wed. morning around 10 oclock. Because I was getting my ski legs back I stopped alot and stuck the ruler in the ground until I hit dirt. I recorded 5 inches in the deepest(non-windblown) place I could find at Canaan Heights Loop Road and about 6 inches at the deepest(non-windblown) places I could find on top of Timberline and Canaan. I did record 7 inches in a location I will not disclose.

Maybe my method is not as accurate as someone elses? Skiing was vary good though, and I guess it really doesn't matter as long as your skiing. I just think many people are dissapointed when they travel to a resort after reports of heavy snows or lots of trails open when that is not the always the case.
November 2, 2008
There are generally two places where you will find reports on snow totals on DCSki: in the Message Forums (which are posted by readers), and in news articles (which I post). Reports in a message forum should always be taken with a grain of salt (on DCSki or anywhere), because anyone can post anything. In news articles, I try to attribute any snowfall total to a specific source, and if those sources exaggerate the totals, that's something everyone will see. If I determine a source is doing this regularly, I will no longer reference that source. DCSki's sole motivation is to get accurate information out to skiers and boarders as quickly as possible.

In my experience, most ski resorts do not exaggerate snowfall totals because they will quickly be called on it, and that will give them a black eye. They want repeat visitors. Exaggerating snow might trick someone into visiting once, but then they'll realize there wasn't as much snow. They won't trust that resort again, and they'll let everyone know (on places like DCSki) that the resort doesn't report accurately. Ski areas know this. But measuring snowfall is a tricky thing to do, too. (It might snow 8 inches on top of the mountain and 2 inches on the bottom, for example, or much of the snow might blow off within 24 hours, etc.)

Whether you read a report in the forums or in a news article, DCSki lets you post a public comment. If you question something someone has posted in the forums, call them on it, or question them on their methods or source. If you think something is inaccurate in a news article, post a comment or send me an e-mail. The beauty of sites like DCSki is that a large number of skiers from all over the region are actively involved in getting information out there and correcting inaccuracies.
November 2, 2008
Having experienced Canaan area snow since the early 90's & now having a second home there, I can tell you that a lot of snow gets blown off into the woods somwhere. You said your self DC ski reader, that there were 2 foot drifts. The snow that was recorded..Over a three day period I will Remind you..actually accumalated, & then Melted from benieth due to the early warmer ground & then the wind Blew which not only packed the snow but dispersed it to god knows where. For you to observe only half what had accumulated over three days is what you would expect. If the weather observer had recorded a 12 inch snowfall for the previous 24 hours I would expect about a 10 inch snow cover in the morn & then maybe 8 inches of good packed snow left in the Aft...Thats just the way it is.

What do you think a 30 inch dump up in the rockies of super light, low moisture content snow settles to in very short order?
DCSki Reader
November 3, 2008
You guys are all talk. You are hundreds of miles away and reporting the snowfall amounts. Give me a break. You don't know what your talking about.
NJ Tom
November 4, 2008
Death to winter! Support global warming !
DCSki Reader
November 4, 2008
Well, I did write in George W. Bush this morning.
ed fowler
November 7, 2008
Enough said

1.8 degree F. below during last 30 and 90 days.
November 16, 2008
I hate winters I just hope and pray it stays in the upper 40's , i hate driving to work in the snow
November 16, 2008
rick rymes with ....
DCSki Reader
November 16, 2008
It snowed a little bit last night. It's either a total of 1/2 inch or 3 inches depending on who's measuring and from wich state they are measuring from.
November 16, 2008
RickDcskireader The mash is back!
DCSki Reader
November 16, 2008
I'd say 2-4 inches on the ground, pre-skiable conditions with strong wind gust and snow squalls for sure
DCSki Reader
November 26, 2008
Skiing is as good as it gets here. 50 plus inches so far this season before t-giving in Canaan. We better hope the 150 average(200 if you believe some reports) won't be the limit this season. Vary deep at Whitegrass today after 10 last night. Don't know why the downhill resorts in Canaan are waiting, the snow on the slopes is vary skiable, or so I here. wink wink.

Ski and Tell

Speak truth to powder.

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