It’s been a mild fall in Ontario and much of North America generally. And some folks who get to brag that they told you so are at Weatherbell Analytics, who back in May predicted we’d have an endless summer right into October. You can watch the weekly Saturday Summary by meteorologist Joe Bastardi at their website to get a rundown on their current analysis, though be warned, he is a loquacious man with many tales to tell and opinions to share and some weeks it can be a while before he gets to the point. Currently the point is that North America generally, and the Great Lakes in particular, are in for a somewhat cold and very snowy winter. Just in time for the coming energy shortage.
A recent Saturday Summary, which actually came out on Wednesday Oct 13, and a related Summary video review how Weatherbell does its long range forecasting. There are patterns in world weather systems that together give each year a unique character. By comparing springtime conditions to detailed data on past weather events they determine the analogue years, and base their long term outlook on what happened in those years. The weather we have seen this year is not a brand new situation, instead the major cycles and oscillations were configured the same way in 1950, 1954, 1955 and so forth up to 2005. In all those years a cold May gave way to a bad hurricane season and a warm fall, and then to blocking patterns that eventually flipped the temperature picture around by early December. In combination with warm water in the Great Lakes, the result was colder than normal air and higher than normal snowfall. Weatherbell is predicting, for most of eastern North America, an average of 1° C cooler than normal temperatures and 25 percent greater than average precipitation, i.e. snowfall. There will be a warm reprieve in January, but February will be brutal.
At least that’s the forecast. Given the outlook for energy supplies and prices, we’d be relieved if they turn out to be wrong. But since, unlike climate modelers, their paycheques depend on making correct forecasts, they tend to try to get things right.