Dueling Winter Forecasts Prove It's Impossible to Predict the Weather

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According to Accuweather 2017-2018 winter forecast, it's time to start waxing up your skis and snowboards. . (Photo: Aspen Snowmass/Flickr)

If the recent hot spell blanketing much of the United States has you yearning for blizzards, frigid temperatures, and deep, unbroken powder, the new winter forecast from Accuweather meteorologists is sure to warm your heart.

The meteorology company recently released its predictions for the 2017-2018 winter in the U.S., with the Northeast, Northwest and Rockies all expected to receive above average snowfall conditions.

"I think this year is going to bring a good ski season in the Northeast," AccuWeather lead long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok said. "And around the holidays we should have some snow for the interior Northeast."

Thanks to a weak La Niña predicted to form later this winter, the Northwest, Rockies and Cascades are all likely to benefit from healthy doses of the white stuff.

"I think the Bitterroot chain all the way down to the Wasatch region in the central and northern Rockies has a good shot to be above normal on snowfall this season," Pastelok said.

Accuweather's prediction for the 2017-2018 winter season should give skiers around the U.S. reason to celebrate in anticipation.
Accuweather's prediction for the 2017-2018 winter season should give skiers around the U.S. reason to celebrate in anticipation. (Photo: Accuweather)

What Farmers' Almanac says

While Accuweather's forecast appears to agree with the harsh winter predicted earlier by the Farmers' Almanac, there are some deviations. For instance, Caleb Weatherbee and the team at the Almanac forecasted cold for the northern Plains, but provided a bit of hope that temps wouldn't approach the harshness of year's past. Accuweather, meanwhile, paints a grimmer picture, with Arctic blasts freezing the region to subzero levels on a regular basis.

"Temperatures could plummet to minus 30 F at times in the Dakotas," Pastelok added.

Accuweather also predicts above average temperatures and drier conditions for the Southeast in contrast to the Farmers' Almanac warning of wet and cold.

Forecasts from both companies appear to align on temperature swings for the southern Plains and a return-to-normal precipitation totals for states like California. That said, skiers out West should have plenty of opportunities to hit the slopes and enjoy the season.

"Ski resorts will receive enough snowfall to create good conditions, but not so much that people struggle to get to them," Pastelok said.

NOAA weighs in

2017-18 Winter Outlook map for precipitation (NOAA)
2017-18 Winter Outlook map for precipitation. (Photo: NOAA)

Meanwhile, the official outlook from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released on Oct. 19 says two-thirds of the continental US will likely experience warmer-than-normal conditions, particularly in the South, along the East Coast, across Hawaii and in parts of Alaska. Below-average temperatures are likely from Minnesota to the Pacific Northwest and in southeastern Alaska.

When it comes to precipitation, that also depends on where you live.

NOAA says to expect wetter-than-average conditions across most of the northern United States and drier-than-normal conditions across the entire southern U.S.

La Nina has a 55- to 65-percent chance of developing before winter sets in, according to NOAA forecasters, which will affect how winter weather develops.

“If La Nina conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “Typical La Nina patterns during winter include above average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the Northern Tier of the U.S. and below normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South.”