• Category Archives Winter Outlook
  • Digging Deeper As Winter Nears…

    Thanksgiving is only a week away (where on earth does time go?!) and more and more folks are asking what we think winter will hold for central Indiana.  In case you missed it earlier this fall, here’s our official Winter Outlook.

    We’re continuing to dig in and monitor new data that’s streaming into the office, as well as ocean profiles.  With that said, we wanted to share some of our findings with you this morning with respect to how various ocean regions can impact our weather this winter.

    We’re noticing significant changes, particularly in the north Pacific, with the famous “warm blob” emerging (image 1). This is a big factor that aided in persistent cold; wintry weather during the ’13-’14 winter (images 2-3). Notice the difference from last year, too (image 4). This isn’t a full blown cold PDO (Pacific Decadal Oscillation) yet, but trending in that direction and “ups the ante” for cold, wintry conditions, locally this year.

    What makes seasonal forecasting so challenging (and fun :-)) are the multiple features that can impact a forecast.  We’ve talked about the importance of ENSO (various types of Nino and Nina events) in past updates, as well as low solar and QBO.  All of these moving parts and pieces are coming together in a manner that seems to be favoring more of a cold, wintry regime, locally, this year.  Is that us saying another blockbuster 2013-2014 winter awaits?  Absolutely not (there are other differences noted above with the SST configuration).  However, it is suggesting that this winter will be absolutely nothing like the past couple…

    Might want to think about getting the snow blower tuned up!

    More later today on the short-term.  Make it a great Thursday!

  • Analyzing The New JMA Weeklies…

    The NEW JMA Weeklies are in and they center the coolest anomalies for November across the central, including our region.  Overall, they’re pretty chilly relative to normal, and also wetter than average.  Perhaps we get into some November frozen precipitation?

    Week 1:

    Week 2:

    Weeks 3-4:

    28 Day Mean:

    After the cold start to the month, the JMA Weeklies suggest ridges will “bookend” the country as November evolves, especially the Northeast region.  This fits our research, as well, and fits the pattern, overall.  If you haven’t had an opportunity to read our Winter Outlook, we discussed the potential of early cold centering itself into the “belly” of the country and the Weeklies appear to be seeing this, as well.


  • Winter Having A Tough Time Finding Staying Power…

    Through (5) weeks of meteorological winter, it’s been a frustrating time for snow and cold weather enthusiasts across the beautiful state of Indiana.  We’ve seen a few storms cut into the central Lakes, taking their respected snow swaths northwest of central Indiana.  Despite an “overachieving” arctic wave on the 13th and an icy glaze event the following Friday night, it’s been a rather uneventful winter so far.  In ironic fashion, a significant winter event is poised to impact portions of the Lower 48 this weekend, but the general consensus in modeling is for this event not to cut northwest, but, instead, remain suppressed and impact portions of the TN Valley and Southern Appalachians with heavy snow.  Now, sure, there’s still time for this to “correct” north, but as of this writing, there’s just as much argument in the suppressed idea.

    Admittedly, we, personally, believed we would be much farther along in the snowfall department than we are through the first 1/3 of meteorological winter.  Looking ahead, there really isn’t much to “like” about the longer term data as far as getting snow prospects. Sure, an arctic shot is still inbound come mid week with very cold air.  We note AK ridging and blocking “trying” to develop over Greenland.

    gfs-ens_z500amean_namer_1This will take us through mid week and into the weekend with lows in the single digits and lower teens and highs generally in the lower and middle 20s.  We still need to watch Thursday evening-night for a wave of low pressure that may attempt to deliver light snow, but this doesn’t look like a significant event from this distance.

    Additionally, we’ll keep a close eye on the weekend for the prospects of snow, but confidence remains very low in regards to this system.  The GFS ensemble members show the wide range of possibilities Saturday.  Taken verbatim, the respected (or not ;-)) solutions, range from “no snow for you” scenarios to a big hit.

    gefs_ptype_ens_ky_22To further complicate matters, the European and Canadian solutions are much less robust and result in a more suppressed scenario.  Forecasters (including yours truly) can only wish for the days to return of worrying about respected snow/ mix/ rain lines amongst the various data, versus the present time of models showing a storm only to take it away from run-to-run and other modeling not even showing the storm.

    But once to mid-month, the overall pattern is forecast to break down yet again and results in a much warmer look for the east.

    gfs-ens_z500amean_namer_12That brings us to our next point and that’s the modeling performance, itself.  For really the better part of a year now, modeling has been poor, at best- even in the short-term solutions.  More recently speaking to the last few months, I can’t recall model data ever performing worse (13 years of forecasting experience).  It leads to a very low confidence forecast in basically anything beyond (7) days right now.  Additionally, conflicting signals are present (as posted this morning, the AO, EPO, WPO favor cold versus the MJO strongly favoring warmth in the longer range).  The signals are competing with themselves to try and take over the overall weather pattern for mid and late winter, but I’m not sure we’re really ever going to get to a point where we “lock-in” to any one particular warm or cold pattern for any sustained length of time this winter.  As far as snow goes, there’s no way in early January you’ll ever see us greatly alter the long-standing ideas posted originally in the winter outlook.  When a given city averages 26″ of snow on the winter, it only takes one storm to come along and put you in a “good spot” (relative to average).  That said, we hear your frustrations (and know they will only grow louder this weekend if our friends down south cash in on the snowy goods).  Once to late January, we’ll revisit this idea.

    The one thing we try to do here is eliminate the “noise” in the short, mid, and long range data by analyzing it all and building a forecast using a blend of the said data, along with teleconnections, etc.  You’ll never see us update our forecast based on a model run every time in comes in.  We don’t buy into the idea of “knee jerk” forecasting.  Let’s sit back and watch the next few days unfold.  Unfortunately, in this weather pattern, we just don’t see confidence increasing in forecasts much past the 3-7 day window at this juncture.

  • 2016-2017 IndyWx.com Winter Outlook…

    Author: Bill McMillan- Founder and Owner of IndyWx.com

    Date: Sunday, October 30th, 2016

    2016-2017 IndyWx.com Winter Outlook

    We’re bullish on a colder and snowier than normal winter across central IN (and a widespread portion of the Mid West and Ohio Valley, for that matter) for 2016-2017.  Furthermore, model data and analogs suggest the period Thanksgiving to Christmas could be quite wintry this year.  If you’re one of those that likes it cold with storms and rumors of storms through the holiday season, this could be your year.

    The basis of the IndyWx.com 2016-2017 Winter Outlook

    • Weak La Nina
    • West-based QBO (read more about the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation here)
    • PDO- does the negative trend continue?

    The PDO (read more about the Pacific Decadal Oscillation here) is a bit of a wildcard moving forward.  The past (2) years has featured a positive PDO, but latest data shows that we’ve slipped into a slightly negative state (-1.06 in Sept).  Negative phases favor warmth, locally.  Interestingly, most model data suggests a positive look this winter.

    The image below shows the differences in what a warm (left) and cool (right) PDO looks like.

    pdo_warm_cool(Image courtesy of JISAO)

    Sea surface temperature model data centered on the upcoming winter

    SST CA model

    screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-11-58-amNMME model

    nmme_ensemble_tmpsfc_season2JAMSTEC model

    ssta-glob_-djf2017-1sep2016JMA model

    screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-19-22-amWe’ve done an “about face” in the equatorial Pacific.  Last year at this time featured one of the strongest El Ninos on record.  (Remember that ridiculously warm December last year)?!  This year, a snap shot of the SST anomalies (from 10.27.16) shows a vastly different look and the weak La Nina underway. We think a weak La Nina dominates the majority of the upcoming meteorological winter.

    screen-shot-2016-10-30-at-10-33-07-amThe International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) plume shows the weak La Nina continuing through winter before rebounding over the spring.


    We’re keying in on the following years to get an idea of what the future may hold for meteorological winter (December-February), based on the ENSO state and QBO west.

    • 2013-2014 *snowiest winter on record (52.2″)
    • 2008-2009
    • 1995-1996 *6th snowiest winter on record (37.8″
    • 1971-1972
    • 1961-1962
    • 1959-1960

    We expect a southeast ridge to be a big player through the balance of the upcoming winter.  While that will likely keep our friends in the southeast region milder and drier when compared to normal, it’ll also serve as enough resistance to keep us on our toes with an active storm track through the Ohio Valley.  We’ve alluded to this since late summer and early fall, but the idea of a “big hitter” winter is very much on the table and could include a couple significant winter storms through our part of the country.  Additionally, a second storm track from northwest-flow clippers will have to be monitored- particularly mid and late winter.

    Despite a warm fall, we expect the evolution of the pattern to undergo a significant shift mid-November and again want to reiterate the holiday stretch could be quite “fun” this year- in stark contrast to the 2015 Christmas season.

    IndyWx.com 2016-2017 Winter Forecast

    • Snowfall: 35″, including first flake this fall to last flake next spring (average snowfall at IND is 25.9″)
    • Temperatures: 1 degree below average for meteorological winter (December through February)

  • Winter Ideas…

    We continue to finalize our winter forecast, which will be posted, as always, here later this month.

    As little as only a few months ago, data suggested a major La Nina for the upcoming winter season.  That data has since backed off significantly.  In fact, some runs suggest we’re back into a weak-ish El Nino state by spring.  At the very least, we are confident on avoiding a strong La Nina this winter and lean more in the direction of a weak Nina, at best, to neutral signal.  The CFSv2 is interesting, as always, with the spread in region 3.4.


    sstanimIn addition to the central PAC anomalies, we also are keying in on some other items of interest in the overall SST configuration:

    I. Warmth in the GOA (Gulf of Alaska)

    Argues for central cold this winter, spreading east with time.

    II. Warmth off the eastern seaboard

    Will likely serve to limit the ability for the cold to spread east early on in the season

    92916sstThe SST CA model is quickly becoming one of our more trusted seasonal forecast models.  We note how it becomes increasingly bullish on a central and eastern trough as winter wears on (by the way, this is likely to go deep into spring this year, too).


    screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-10-53-04-amCold overwhelms the pattern and when you combine it with the active storm track (noted by the green hues, suggesting above normal precipitation through our neck of the woods), confidence is continuing to grow for an above normal snow season.


    screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-10-58-05-amThe SST configuration on the JAMSTEC would suggest a cold, stormy set-up, locally.  That said, while it sees the above average precipitation, it’s awfully warm at the surface.



    temp2-glob-djf2017-1sep2016The NMME (to no surprise…) would suggest a very warm, wet winter.



    screen-shot-2016-10-02-at-11-08-47-amAs a reminder, our complete and final annual winter outlook will be posted here during the second half of October.  That will include additional model data, along with several other points behind our reasoning for our winter forecast.  As we always do, we’ll put “pen to paper” when it comes to our winter forecast, including our expected temperature and snowfall anomalies.  Given the data above, including the warm JAMSTEC and NMME, it’s going to be very, very hard to see a warm winter here.  In fact, our idea is for the exact opposite, given the SST configuration, and lines up more closely with the SST CA idea at this point.  We’re also in the camp of a very, very active storm track through the Ohio Valley.  “Big-hitter” potential is present from a winter storm perspective, especially given that we are likely to see resistance from the SE ridge.

    Much more later this month…

  • New SST CA Model Weighs In On Winter…

    The updated Sea Surface Temperature Constructed Analog model is in for the winter. In short, it suggests a slow start to winter gains momentum and turns much colder as mid and late winter arrive. It’s also a stormy look, locally, and would imply big-hitter potential in the Ohio Valley.

    500mb pattern

    *Note how the trough becomes more established over the central and east during the January through March period. 

    Temperature anomalies

    The consistency is remarkable on the bullish cold signal for the central and east for the January-March time frame. We note high agreement, month-over-month, on the J-M time frame being significantly cold. 

    Precipitation anomalies

    *No doubt a stormy signal through the Ohio Valley.

    Time is ticking…winter will be here before we know it! Our official annual winter outlook will be out in October.