.. how does an El Nino affect the winter weather is the Mid-Atlantic region? Does that mean more or less snow/cold here? Does that mean more snow out west? .. Canada? Reason I ask is I am starting to plan our trips for the coming season and understand that El Nino plays a major effect in winter weather I just do'nt know whether it is to the good or detriment of ski weather around here.
Weather is entirely too complex a set of systems to answer with 'This will definitely happen'.
That said, I remember:
- an 'El Nino' year when the MA was rained under and the points north of Albany were under a 4" sheet of ice. Driving home from Stowe the roads were impassable (flooded or with axle-breaking potholes).
- an 'El Nino' year when the MA was bitterly cold (25F) highs but also bone-dry. 7 Springs didn't close until mid-April, but there wasn't anyone there anyway.
- an 'El Nino' year when DC had wild oscillations, with 2 snowstorms (and freezes) in a week and 70 degree weather (fog, rain, sun) in between so that the area roads were coated with 3" of black ice.
Start a poll, maybe someone will get it right? And clean your gutters!
Is it the El Nino's or the La Nina's where the Pacific Northwest got inundated in recent years? If El Nino, Washington or Oregon states or BC (Whistler/Blackcomb) may be good options.
I agree with comprex, pretty tough to predict what the weather will do.
I think for the Mid-Atlanic the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) effects things more rather than El Nino/La Nina. Wetness and temp fluctuation always seem to miss the DC area, unlike out-west, where the Jet stream tends get pushed very high up on an ENSO (El Nino/La Nina) cycle and shuffles most of the nice snowmaking weather to the north away from CO and UT. But things seem different this year!!! :-)
DCSki ran an article way back in 1997 about El Nino and its potential effect on the Mid-Atlantic region: http://www.dcski.com/features/09_02_97/elnino.html
For a few months, this article was the #1 hit in major search engines when one typed in "El Nino." And shortly after the article was published, El Nino became a very popular search term. DCSki's server took a hit for awhile..
Although it's very difficult to predict the long-term weather trends, the NOAA, Prediction Center is predicting a warmer-than-normal Winter for much of the Mid-Atlantic, especially in PA. The Northern (Canadian) branch of the Jet-Stream has been locked in a "Winter pattern" (when the Jet-Stream dips South, into PA) for over 2 years. Given that such an event is somewhat unusual, it's likely that the Northern branch of the Jet-Stream will finally assume a "Summer pattern" and retreat into (or near) Canada in the near future. The current long-range prediction (for Dec., Jan. and Feb.) is that the Jet-Stream will be locked in a Summer pattern for much of the Winter, which will bring mild weather to the Mid-Atlantic.
LOL just like when you walk up to the Roulette table in Vegas and see that Red hit three times, eh? Good chance that black will come up next ... time to place your bet!
Since there's a fair chance of El Nino conditions in the Pacific Ocean starting in late 2004, it now looks more and more like the Jet-Stream will assume a Summer-like position in the Eastern US by Dec. or shortly thereafter. However, El Nino conditions don't always create this warm scenaro in the East. But, warm weather in the Mid-Atlantic is somewhat more likely when an El Nino is taking place.
We now have 2 factors that tend to indicate a mild Winter in the Mid-Atlantic: 1) The fact that the Northern branch of the Jet-Stream has been, for the most part, locked in a Winter pattern for over 2 years (ie: the night-time low temps in Central PA have been in the 40s and 50s for much of this Summer). How much longer can the Jet stay in this position? The law of averages tells us not much longer. 2) An El Nino is predicted to start in Dec., which tends to cause the Northern branch of the Jet-Stream (in the Eastern part of North America) to shift North into Canada.
It's going to get really interesting this Winter. Can, Mother-Nature bring us another cold, snowy Winter after 2 cold/snowy Winters in a row? Anyway, thank goodness for snowmaking! I've been through plenty of mild Winters before and still managed to get in some nice ski days in the Mid-Atlantic.
Place your bets!
Since guessing the weather is like the roulette table, we all have about the same chance.
If you take the law of averages, the theory of big numbers, all the rain we've had, a 52 degree low in August (AUGUST FOR PETE'S SAKE), and the fact that I normally have done quite a few snow dances by now (did my first one last night on the deck as the temperatures were dropping), I think we are going to have a so so year. There will be no skiing down the masonic temple (that was fun last year) and the snow guns will have to work overtime to get enough coverage.
I do think that Summit County, CO will get slammed this year. They are overdue (see all pertinent theoretical facts above).
Hey thanks everyone for the responses!
My thought was/is that given the odds that El Nino potentially indicates a mild winter in the East, then I would probably try to book several trips out west this year. We usually do our own booking and have found that if we book major trips no later than Sept 15, we can get some awesome deals in lodging and airfare.
But ... I agree the whole weather prediction thing is iffy at best. Still, if I have some idea that in booking a week at Killington I might end up skiing slurpies or ice pack, vis a vis booking the same time frame at Heavenly and potentially have real snow to ski on .. well you can see my point.
Again .. thanks. Looks like the big trips for us will be out west this year.
Of course it's HIGHLY unscientific, but I have noticed (over the past 30 years) that the East and West tend to run in reverse of each other. That is, when we have a lousy ski season in the East (particularly the mid-Atlantic), the West (especially CO and UT) is often enjoying an above average ski season with plenty of snow.
Look I am not The Oracle or something but I have noticed that this year (in UT):
1) We had a pretty awesome season in general with several 3' + days in Dec- Jan but it did warm up mid-march and there was a meltdown
2) This summer all the mountains in Park City are real green and lush as compared to last season where it was all dry.
3) We've been getting significant rainfall during the summer unlike last year.
4) According to NOAA we are no longer a sever or even bad drought just a moderate one.
5) NOAA long-range says we can expect EC (equal chances or "normal") moisture and temps, though late march-early april may have a warm-up but not like last season
6) the Jorndanelle lake/reservoir is not too bad in depth
This tells me that things could be even better than last season in UT/CO but no guarantees but all my friends back east had a blast skiing from Jan 1 - Apr 1 so maybe it will even be better this season!