Snowfall forecasts for winter 2022/2023 are approaching as the cold weather season is about to start. From the US to Canada and across Europe, we'll be looking at the latest forecasts and trends for snowfall totals, extending the perspective into early spring.
First, we need to take a quick look at the main global climate driver for the upcoming winter season, La Niña. What does the latest ocean survey data show, and what influence has it had on past patterns of temperature and snowfall?
But the main focus is on long-range global weather forecast systems. From there, you'll see snowfall forecasts for the upcoming winter and how they change as we get closer to winter, with the forecast's accuracy increasing as well.
LONG RANGE GLOBAL CLIMATE CONNECTION
An important global climate factor is ENSO. This is a region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that changes between warm and cold phases. Usually there is a phase change every 1-3 years.
The cold phase is called La Niña and the warm phase is called El Niño. We are currently in a La Niña phase, entering its third and final year, which will likely be replaced by a warm phase by 2023/2024.
ENSO phases significantly influence tropical precipitation, pressure patterns, and the complex exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. The following image shows the circulation pattern of a cold phase and its ocean-atmosphere connection.
In this way, ENSO significantly impacts tropical pressure and precipitation patterns, strongly altering the atmosphere-ocean feedback system. ENSO's influence spreads globally through this feedback system, creating different patterns of winter temperature and snowfall.
Below is the latest surface analysis of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Cold ocean anomalies extend across most of the tropical Pacific. This cold ocean phase is entering its final stage and will disintegrate with the arrival of spring.
La Niña usually forms during strong trade winds, which can tell us a lot about the state of the global circulation. In this way, we can use these anomalies as a "proxy" to better understand the current state of the global climate system and its seasonal development.
Below you can see the progress of some historic multi-year La Niña episodes, with only two previous events having a third-year event. Three events were neutral in the third year and three phases changed to El Niño in the third season.
No cold events have entered year 4 in known records, so it is expected that we will see the last phase of La Niña this season for a while.
LA NIÑA WINTER FORECAST
Next we have an OfficialCCP NOAAprobability forecast graph, showing thelong term forecastfrom the central ENSO region. As predicted, La Niña conditions will last through winter, but will weaken. La Niña should erupt in the spring, with chances of a warm phase (El Niño) increasing towards the end of 2023.
To better understand ENSO changes, we produced a video showing La Niña anomalies from summer through fall.
The video below shows cold ocean anomalies developing in the equatorial Pacific as we move into the fall, driven by strong easterly trade winds.
So what exactly does this mean for winter weather patterns and snowfall potential? We will take a closer look at the influence of weather that La Niña usually has in North America, which is under the most direct influence.
Europe is not known to have any specific/direct influences as it is too far away from the regions of origin. But that doesn't mean it doesn't have an impact.
La Niña changes weather globally, but beyond the direct influence over North America, places like Europe have many other factors in play before La Niña's influence can spread that far.
WEATHER PATTERN WINTER IN NORTH AMERICA
Typically, the first influence of these oceanic anomalies can be seen in thejet streampattern changes. A jet stream is a large and powerful current of air (wind) at approximately 8-11 km (5-7 miles) in altitude.
Historically a strong blockhigh pressuresystem in the North Pacific is the most typical effect of a cold phase of ENSO. This tends to redirect the polar jet over the northern United States, followed by cold air.
The following image shows the average pressure pattern during La Niña winters over the past 40 years. You can see a strong high pressure system over the North Pacific and an area of low pressure over Canada and the northern United States. Images byNOAA Physical Science Laboratory.
The circulation of the strong high pressure system promotes the development of a low pressure region over Alaska and western Canada. It repositions the jet stream down between the two high-pressure systems, marked above with blue lines.
Looking at the temperature analysis for the same winters, we can see a cold anomaly under the jet stream in western Canada and the northern United States. This typically occurs at the western and southern boundaries of low-pressure systems, where the north and northwest flow draws in cold air from the north.
Warmer than normal weather and mild winter conditions generally thrive in the southwestern United States, eastern United States, and eastern Canada. The most dynamic winter weather generally falls between the warm and cold anomalies in the Midwestern and Central United States.
In terms of precipitation, La Niña winters are generally the driest in the southern United States. Drier conditions also develop in the southeastern United States, as La Niña produces a weaker subtropical jet stream and less moisture in the southern United States. More precipitation is typical in the northwestern United States, the Great Lakes, and parts of the Northeast.
You can see the redirection of the jet stream in the image below. The image shows the average position of the jet stream in La Niña winters and the resulting weather patterns that develop over the United States and Canada in an ENSO-predominant cold winter.
The displaced jet stream brings cooler temperatures and winter storms from the polar regions to the northern and northwestern United States. Warmer and drier winter weather prevails in the southern states.
But what does that mean forsnow fallpotential? The data shows that the La Niña jet stream pattern also alters snowfall patterns in North America, as pressure systems take a different path, along with cold air.
Colder air is more easily accessible from the northern United States, increasing the potential for snowfall if sufficient moisture is available. In the following graph forNOAA-Climate, the average snowfall pattern for weak La Niña years can be seen, as expected for this winter season.
In addition to the Northwestern United States and Midwest, we may see more snowfall potential in the Northeastern United States and Eastern Canada.
But now, let's take a look at the actual winter snowfall predictions from the latest forecast models. Since the most recent forecast data was released in mid to late November, we have now also included data for March so we can see the potential for early spring snowfall.
The format of this forecast is simple. We will see two highly appreciated seasonal weather forecast systems. First it's ECMWF and then it's UKMO. The data used to produce these charts is the latest available at this time, as of mid-November.
You will see the average snowfall forecast for thewinter weather station, which covers the period December-January-February. We will go deeper on a monthly basis as there is a lot of detail in the monthly forecast that is not shown in the full seasonal average.
ECMWF WINTER 2022/2023 SNOW LATEST FORECAST
As always, we start with ECMWF, the most widely used and highly regarded seasonal forecast system. The ECMWF data provided is provided by the Copernicus-EU Open Project.
Starting with the seasonal average, we see below-average snowfall across most of Europe, indicating a dominant pattern of high pressure. This does not mean that there will be no snow, but it does indicate less snowfall than usual.
The December snow depth forecast shows widespread negative anomalies. The pattern appears to be under the influence of a high pressure system, as the forecast does not allow for many large scale snowfall and snow accumulation scenarios.
In the January forecast, there is no real improvement. Most of Europe is forecast to experience less depth of snow in the dead of winter. A larger deficit can be observed in Northern Europe and the Alps.
The snow depth forecast for February shows the potential for further reduced snowfall across most of Europe. This pattern has been fairly consistent with little snow accumulation since early September.
The following image below shows the change in snow depth prediction between the latest model data and the previous model run. We can see that the latest ECMWF forecast shows less snowfall over most of the continent compared to last month's forecast for the entire winter season.
In addition, we have snowfall forecast data for the month of March. Of course, March can still be cold and it often snows. But looking at the March snow forecast image below, we can see that most of Europe has a less than normal end to the snow season.
ECMWF SNOW FORECAST IN NORTH AMERICA
In North America, most of the country has below-average snow accumulation, except for the northwestern United States, upper Midwest, and southwestern Canada. The rest of the United States shows less snow than usual, but that does not mean that there is no snow.
ODecember Snow Depth Forecastit shows less snow cover over most of the United States and Canada. An exception is southwestern Canada and the higher elevations in the western/northwestern United States. But keep in mind that more snowfall potential remains in the upper Midwest.
OThe snow depth forecast for January showsa similar pattern of more snow from western Canada to the northwestern United States. We see increased snow potential in the upper Midwest, and some other areas of the Midwest have normal amounts of snowfall forecast for this month (0/white areas).
OSnow Depth Forecast for Februaryshows a continued increase in snowfall potential in the northwestern United States and expansion into western and southern Canada. More snow is still forecast in the upper Midwest, with some indications of more snow around the central Great Lakes.
Below is an image that compares the latest prediction with the previous one. You can see that more snow is forecast across much of the western United States compared to the previous forecast. This is a reflection of the pressure changes in the latest model forecast. More snow can be seen in parts of the Midwestern and Northeastern United States.
And we also have March snow forecast data available for North America. Once again, you may see more snow than usual, covering a large area from western Canada to the northwestern United States and the far Midwest. The rest of the United States and eastern Canada are expected to see less snow in early spring.
UKMO WINTER 2022/2023 SNOW LATEST FORECAST
Forecasting long-term weather is not easy, and there are many factors that affect seasonal weather. We always focus on trends and probabilities, but still, variation is key. The more forecast data you can see, the better idea you'll have about expected weather patterns.
As one forecast model can never be relied upon, we always tend to use the UKMO long-range forecast system in conjunction with the ECMWF. It was developed by the Met Office in the United Kingdom, where the acronym UKMO comes from.
Starting with the seasonal average for Europe, we can see another light snow forecast similar to the ECMWF. Most of the continent is forecast to have less snow than normal, except in the far north of Europe. UKMO uses a different parameter than ECMWF, but it is also directly correlated with snowfall.
The December snow forecast shows some areas with more snow in the northern, western and central parts. In general, we still see less snow than usual in the first month of winter.
The snowfall forecast for January shows more potential in northern and western Europe. In general, the UKMO is much more dynamic than the ECMWF and leaves more possibilities open with regard to standards development.
The snowfall forecast for February indicates continued potential in the northern parts of Europe. But on the other hand, the rest of the continent shows less snow than usual for this month. Given the distribution of snowfall anomalies, it shows a probable area of low pressure over northwestern Europe.
By looking at the overall average forecast and comparing it to the previous forecast, we can see that the latest race has less snow in most of Europe, except for the east and south. We may also see more hinted snowfall on this pass through southern Britain.
SNOW FORECASTS FOR NORTH AMERICA UKMO
The average seasonal forecast for the United States and Canada shows a typical La Niña snowfall pattern. We see the most snow in the northwestern and northern United States and in southern Canada. That's not too far off from the ECMWF forecast, but we generally see more snowfall in the northern United States.
ODecember Snow Forecastshows increased snowfall in the northwestern United States. More snow is also seen in parts of the upper Midwest. The rest of the US is forecast to receive less snow than normal this month, with the far Northeast US and parts of the Southeast expected.
snow forecast in januaryshows a similar pattern, with more snow across much of southern Canada and the northern half of the United States. This seems close to a typical historical pattern of snowfall in a La Niña winter. There are also some indications of a cold event affecting the south-central United States.
Less snow is forecast for the eastern half of the United States in January.
Osnow forecast februaryshows the potential for snowfall remaining in the northern parts of the United States. This is mainly the result of warmer than normal temperatures expected towards the end of winter by the UKMO in the south/south-west. But we can still see an area of higher snowfall potential in the southeast, which could be a single major event.
Snowfall in the southeastern United States may be an unlikely scenario at first, but only a bout of severe cold can bring some snow farther south.
We also produce an image showing the change in the snowfall forecast compared to the previous month's forecast. Interestingly, this latest forecast cycle shows more snowfall in the western United States and also in the Midwest. Reduced snow potential in the eastern United States.
Wrapping up the March forecast, we may see a decent snow season continuing across most of the northern half of the United States. You can see a strong snowfall anomaly over the Midwest and Great Lakes, expanding over the northeastern United States.
More snowfall is also expected in early spring in the northwestern United States and the southern half of Canada, as the influence of La Niña slowly wanes.
Overall, UKMO shows a decent snow season in the northern United States. It also shows some snowy landscapes in the eastern and southeastern United States.
OFFICIAL NOAA WINTER FORECAST 2022/2023
We can also track snowfall potential from normal winter temperature and precipitation forecasts. The greatest potential for snowfall generally occurs in regions with cooler temperatures and more precipitation.
This can be seen in NOAA's latest official winter 2022/2023 temperature forecast for the United States. It shows chances for cooler temperatures for most of the northern United States. The southern half of the country is more likely to experience warmer than normal weather.
But take note of the likelihood of "equal" temperatures spreading to the south-central states. This can be interpreted as a potential route of cold winter air surges from the Midwest southward, creating occasional snow events.
The official NOAA temperature forecast points:
- Warmer than average temperatures are favored in the southwestern United States, the southeastern states, and along the Atlantic coast.
- Below normal temperatures are favored from the Pacific Northwest east to the western Great Lakes.
The official precipitation forecast is also quite similar to the latest model forecasts. We see an equal or greater chance of more precipitation (and snowfall) in the Northwest, extending into the Great Lakes and eastern United States. The southern United States is forecast to have a drier-than-normal winter season.
Official NOAA Precipitation Forecast Points:
- Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in the Pacific Northwest, the northern Rocky Mountains, the Great Lakes, and the Ohio Valley.
- The greatest chances for drier-than-average conditions are forecast in parts of California, the Southwest, the southern Rocky Mountains, the southern Plains, the Gulf Coast, and much of the Southeast.
Plus, we'll keep you posted on other developing weather trends, so bookmark our page. Also, if you saw this article on the Google App (Discover) feed, please click the Like (♥) button to see more of ourpredictionsand our latest articles ontime and naturein general.
Don't miss the full winter forecast with pressure and temperature patterns:
Winter Forecast 2022/2023 - November Update: Peaks of the ENSO cold phase, with its increasing influence of weather as we approach the start of the winter season
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