DATE... May 1, 2010... 11:00 PM Pacific
WINTER 2010-11 DISCUSSION
Currently, climatologists are looking at ENSO conditions in the Pacific Ocean. ENSO stands for El Nino/Southern Oscillation. The pattern is a recurring one that has a huge impact on global climate. You know this. The past winter, 2009-10, was a moderate El Nino year.
El Nino conditions mean that sea surface temperatures in the Pacific are warmer than normal. La Nina conditions mean that sea surface temperatures in the Pacific are cooler than normal. Both have equal effect on climate.
The forecast currently looks for moderate La Nina conditions by next winter. Reliable NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) models have shown this change for several months now.
Here's the data:
ENSO conditions are measured by a relative scale. The projected January 2011 SSTs (Sea Surface Temperatures) of -1* C make the projected Nina a moderate one. The last Nina was 2008-2009.
But how do we know that we're getting toward the Nina? How do we know that the current El Nino is dropping? By using the Nino 3.4 (a geographic region of the Pacific) anomaly temperatures. See below.
The object is a GIF. Click on it to see it animated.
As you can see, the temperature anomaly in the Pacific is getting cooler. Make sure you look at the date range at the top to see when the recorded observations were taken.
What does this mean, in two words?
Right now, a La Nina for next year seems likely. For the West, that is often excellent for snow--except in more southwestern states, like California. For the East, this is often not too great for snow. But as with all forecasting, climatology is an inexact science. It's also very early.
I look forward to this thread being a source of information and interaction. Here's to hoping for the La Nina to play out. The West needs some snow after last year...
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(on October 2-3, 2009
): Schweitzer receives first snowfall of the 2009-10 season. Ken Barrett, lead guide at Selkirk Powder Company, kicks off season by skiing down the ramp outside SPC's private lodge. Think Snow.