Now that we’ve revealed our winter forecast for 2008-09, it’s time to see what professors from Penn State University and Millersville University have to say about the subject. I sent an e-mail to California University of Pennsylvania as well, but they were unfortunately unavailable to participate.
In my e-mail, I asked representatives from these schools what they thought about the coming winter. I asked them specifically…
More / Less snow than average
Warmer / colder than average
More / Less snow than last year
Warmer / colder than last year
Timing / type of the bigger storms
…and some reasoning behind the forecast.
My second response came from Eric Horst of Millersville University. Here’s more about Eric according to the Millersville University website…
A native of Lancaster Pennsylvania, Eric has a special interest in forecasting and “media meteorology.” He is a graduate of Penn State University (’86 Meteo), and he has been an adjunct faculty and staff member at Millersville University since 1988. In the early 1990s, Eric also worked as a part-time, on-air meteorologist at WGAL, the NBC affiliate in the Harrisburg/Lancaster market. At Millersville, Eric is founder of the Campus Weather Service and the MU Weather Information Center, of which he is the Director.
Continue reading to see what Eric had to say about the upcoming winter…
Regarding the winter outlook…as you surely know, we do NOT have a signal from ENSO. Last winter’s rapid ramp up of a strong La Nina was a clear signal for a milder and less-snowy winter in PA…and that of course panned out nicely. With a neutral ENSO this winter, there’s no clear signal…and as I like to say it’s therefore more of an “anything goes kind of winter.” You can research past neutral ENSO winters and find both above and below temp seasons and above and below snowfall seasons, as well as many near-normal seasons.
So which way will this winter tip? I feel that’s hard to say, because the winter will be guided by more subtle, short-lived factors such as NAO (which biases somewhat in accordance to changing SSTs in the north atlantic) and the EPO which plays off mid-latitude pacific patterns. So, these are the signals I’ll be watching in the months to come. Unfortunately, there’s no reliable way to forecast either Index. The UKmet folks do try to model NAO…and they are forecasting a “near-neutral” NAO overall. Of course, on any given week there can be major swings negative or positive. So, I think we’d be wise to track NAO and EPO this winter to make medium-range (5 – 15 day) forecasts; big storms tend to develop when the index flips, as we saw the past few days.
The bottom line: this winter will almost certainly be snowier and colder than last winter (which won’t be hard for most parts of PA), but I see NO strong signal to forecast a much below temp or much above snowfall winter. That can of course happen—it only takes one big storm to push snowfall much above normal…in fact, the Poconos will likely be above normal based on yesterday’s big storm padding the numbers already! Anyway, my sense is that PA will see a near- to slightly below normal temp winter and near- to somewhat above-normal snowfall winter.
And there you have it.
If you’d like more information about Eric or Millersville University, check out his page by clicking here.
To check out what Paul Knight from Penn State had to say about the winter, click here.