First Trax

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Weather has been the subject of the day lately. Meteorologist Brad Panovich has joined our team for the upcoming season. We’ve also been game planning with Bill Schlueter of WeatherNation lately. His team of meteorologists are proposing to provide streaming weather content for all of the ski areas for us. We’re still ironing out the details on that. One look at my skiMail inbox this morning shared the fact that "weather" is on a lot of your minds this morning.

Dana Cornette of Atlanta wrote, "It appears that we’re in for some heavy rain over the next several days. I remembered a couple of years ago the ski areas were running short on water. I guess that’s not a problem this year huh? We love your site down here. My boyfriend says to tell you "props" on starting your morning reports back up earlier than in the past."

Tell your boyfriend thanks for the props. We’ve had more to write about this preseason compared to most.  Glad to do it. No, there won’t be any drought problems with the water supply this season.

Tami Williams of Raleigh wrote, "I read your column the other day and it was talking about the el nino winter that is upcoming and that usually promotes some big storms. Then I read something in the news here yesterday that was saying that this (past) summer has been one of the cooler ones on record and these kinds of summers are usually followed by cold winters. What’s your take on that?"

Actually Tami, when you say "El Niño" – one must place their tongue on the roof of their mouth so as to get the proper pronunciation of the term. Say it with me – El Niño. Now on to your question:

I prefer to leave the weather forecasting to the pros like Brad Panovich, Ray Russell and his staff , Jim Cantore and the crew at THE WEATHER CHANNEL, etc. However since Brad won’t be revealing his 2009-2010 Winter Forecast until around halloween, and since Ray Russell won’t be revealing his post-Woolly-Worm-Festival prognosticative battle between man and worm for another month – I guess I’ll take a stab at answering you.

El Niño Winters tend to offer "Colder than Normal Autumns and Winters"

In the Southeast, El Niño years tend to be colder than normal in the fall and winter and warmer than normal in the spring and summer. Research has shown a correlation between precipitation in the Southeast and the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) phenomenon: the wet spring and flooding of 1994 and the droughts in 1988 are related to ENSO. In other words, El Niño years tend to be wetter than normal in the winter and spring and drier than normal during the summer.

I could go research all of the previous years of content we’ve posted on the subject – but it’s too early, so let’s move on for now.  Next question.

John Davies from Roanoke wrote, "I’m a huge fan of your site and about this time every year I write the people from Farmer’s Almanac and get some insight as to their winter forecast. Don’t know if you know it but they started a weather thread where you can submit questions and I asked about this winter’s forecast for the Mid Atlantic and here’s what they wrote back."


Unlike the Past few years, We Now Have a Weak to Borderline moderate El Nino in the Equatorial Pacific. And we have a cold PDO(Pacific Decadal Oscillation) which has shown signs of working its way into the climate. My personal opinion is that this El Nino will Weaken into the winter, and barely stay alive, probably at middle weak stage. This Nino is West Based, with an East Based QBO. By analoging the Years Similar to this one, and Taking a look at the Long Range MOdel Outlooks, I have come up with THIS. The Middle Atlantic Region Will Overall Experience Average Temperatures this winter, Maybe a bit on the Colder Side. AS FOR SNOWFALL, I am anticipating Above Normal Snowfall, most of it coming in the Month of FEBUARY. BELOW IS MY MONTH BY MONTH BREAKDOWN OF THE UPCOMING YEAR.

DECEMBER should Be the WARMEST month, with temps running about 1.0 degrees above average overall. Snowfall should be BELOW NORMAL for this month, With the Exeption of The App. Mountains. The End of the Month Looks Cold.

JANUARY Looks A little bit Colder, With Temps running 0.5 degrees Below Average. Snowfall Once again looks a bit scrawny, HOWEVER, Near the End of the Month, Temps Get Very Cold, and Snow becomes more likely.

FEBUARY looks like the HARSHEST month to me. I See Very Cold Air, and HEAVY SNOWS. Sometime in the Month, I see a STRONG STORM Moving in from the Tennessee Valley, and Developing a new Low Pressure Center Near The Coast, and Riding up as a NOREASTER. Heavy Snows From the Coastal Plain & potentially the Peidmont Up the Coast! Very windy & cold, and Blizzard Conditions will be possible, especially if your near an Open Body of Water. Additional Snows are possible IN the Beginning of the MOnth, and Near the End.

March Looks Nippy & Very Wet. Snow is posible at higher elevations, maybe heavy, but not likely along the costal Plain.

I hope you Like the Forecast, I’ll answer any questions you may have :):):)

Okay – I have a question. Did your CAPS LOCK get stuck? I think I’ve found someone who misuses capitals more than I do! I also know what we can send this Farmer’s Almanac prognosticator; a spell-checker!

Obviously, those of us who are hoping for a ton of cold and snow this winter will hang on every statement of cold and snow in the forecast above. Bear in mind that this particular statement was for the mid Atlantic region in general.

THE OLD FARMER’S ALMANAC was on a few minds recently

Stan Prater of Lewisburg, WV wrote, "Thanks for your site. Love it. Great work. Looking to be on it more this year. Might want to look at Farmer’s new ability to show city specific forecasts. You’re welcome."

Stan is OBVIOUSLY a man of few words. Our response: You’re welcome. Glad. Thanks. What, the snow or our website? Did that. Thanks.

You know, that’s tough to do. Try talking or writing in two-to-three word statement. Stan DID prompt me to have a look at The Farmer’s Almanac site and I didn’t realize that they are now offering or – like zip code weather forecasts. That’s pretty cool. That gives us yet another source of weather data to review. I did see what Stan was talking about though. See:  

You can put in city/state input and they will spit out an annual weather summary from November 2009 through October 2010. According to them, here’s just two quick looks that I took:

For Boone, NC:

Winter will be slightly colder and drier than normal, with below-normal snowfall. The coldest periods will occur in early to mid-January and mid-February. The snowiest periods will be around Thanksgiving, in late December, mid- to late January, early and mid-February, and early March.

For Snowshoe WV:

Winter will bring rapid changes in the weather, from mild to very cold and back to mild again. Temperatures will be slightly below normal, on average, while precipitation will be above normal, with near-normal snowfall. The coldest periods will occur in the second week of December, early to mid-January, mid- to late January, mid- and late February, and early March. The snowiest periods will occur in late January, mid-February, and early March.

Man – I HATE to crack on these kinds of forecast scenarios, but reading the above summaries I get the feeling that I’m watching some bad psychic channel hotline show. With weather statements as vague and generalized as those above, heck I could be a Farmer’s specialist. Aren’t the coldest periods of winter nearly always January and February? I had to chuckle at the generalization of "The coldest periods will occur in the second week of December, early to mid-January, mid- to late January, mid- and late February, and early March".

Isn’t that the ENTIRE winter?

Oh well, forget everything I’ve written this morning. Back to Tami’s original question – Tami, I just don’t know. I’m confused. I think I’ll leave the weather to God and the professionals!

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