This forecast is for the U.S. For the Canadian forecast, click here.
After the frigid, bitterly cold, and snow-filled winter last year, many of you are wondering just what this winter might bring. Could it possibly be as bad as last?
According to the 2015 edition of the Farmers’ Almanac, the winter of 2014–15 will see below-normal temperatures for about three-quarters of the nation. A large zone of very cold temperatures will be found from east of the Continental Divide east to the Appalachians. The most frigid temperatures will be found from the Northern Plains into the Great Lakes. The coldest outbreak of the season will come during the final week of January into the beginning of February, when frigid arctic air drops temperatures across the Northern Plains to perhaps 40 below zero. As the frigid air blows across the Great Lakes, snow showers and squalls will drop heavy amounts of snow to the lee of the Lakes.
No region will see prolonged spells of above-normal temperatures; only near the West and East Coasts will temperatures average close to normal.
Over the eastern third of the country, we are expecting an active storm track with a number of storms delivering copious amounts of snow and rain. Near-normal precipitation is expected for the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest States, and Northern Plains, while below-normal precipitation values are forecast for the Southwest States as well as the Upper Midwest and the Great Lakes. The Central and Southern Plains are expected to receive above-average precipitation.
We are “red flagging” the first 10 days of January and the first week of February along the Atlantic Seaboard for active wintry weather featuring bouts of heavy precipitation and strong winds. Another red flag timeframe for widespread wintry conditions is the middle part of March from the nation’s midsection to the East Coast.
Potential El Niño is an Uncertain Element
As we were putting the finishing touches on this year’s long-range projections, the National Oceanic Atmospheric and Administration issued an official El Niño watch. An El Niño is a warming of the central Pacific once every few years, from a combination of wind and waves in the tropics. It shakes up climate around the world, changing rain and temperature patterns. An El Niño could result in more rain this winter for drought-stricken California and Southern States, and a milder winter for the nation’s frigid northern tier. El Niños are usually strongest from December to April, but there’s no guarantee that we will see one this winter. We’ll just have to wait and see, but in the mean time, all of us at the Farmers’ Almanac suggest you stock up on firewood, sweaters, and hot cocoa. It certainly looks like another long winter of shivery and shovelry is on tap.