Hide your kids, hide your wives, hide your husbands, hide EVERYTHING except your winter coats. I'm talking furs. I'm talking Polartec fleece. I'm talking...whale blubber! WHY? Because they look COOL?! YES! But on top of that, winter is coming, and predictions have it that it's going to be especially sh**ty this year.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its winter weather prediction, and it's a mixed bag. They're predicting La Nina to brew up and affect weather patterns differently for different regions. That means, depending on where you live, this winter could either be worse...or warmer...
But there's more nuance to La Nina's effects than that. Dr. Todd Crawford, chief meteorologist of The Weather Company, says:
"As is typical in La Niña base state winters, we expect the greatest risk of cold early in the winter in the eastern U.S., with the cold retreating towards the Pacific Northwest as the winter progresses."
But at the same time, the NOAA does predict that even if La Nina does build up, she won't last that long. She's supposed to be "weak, short-lived event." Nevertheless, the Pacific Northwest, a La Nina's next door neighbor can still feel its effects, even short-lived.
But again, there's more to it than that. The past few years have seen above average temperatures in the Northeast, and wetter winters in the Pacific Northwest. The one thing that could change that is atmospheric blocking. What's that, you say?
Blocking is what happens in the atmosphere when high pressure builds up and forms a wall. Microclimates or weather patterns that form can't surpass them, and so they persist. This can exacerbate an already extraordinary or extreme weather pattern, like a blizzard or hurricane.
Blocking would prevent cold temperatures moving from the west off the Pacific from leaving and dissipating. This would cause below-average temperatures in that region. It might also mean that the Northeast doesn't receive the full effects of La Nina. In which case, it could actually remain pretty warm.
The NOAA predicts that the Ohio Valley, Great Lakes and northern Rockies in particular have the best chances of getting dumped on. That all depends on temperature fluctuation and if there's any blocking. But even with a mild La Nina, it could still bring in some snow.
Very good question. So, there's also something called Arctic Oscillation, and it has an impact on weather. In a negative phase, there's more pressure in the midzone than the north, meaning the north gets higher temperatures and more rain. In a positive phase, there's more pressure in the north, and the midzones will get wetter — or stormier.
The Farmer's Almanac predicts that the Southeast will get above average precipitation this winter. The Almanac's use of the moon and consequent tidal flows also predicts below-average temperatures and winds for the same region. But who knows if you can trust the Almanac, considering they never publish any of their "evidence."
And the NOAA predicts that the Northeast actually will have a more or less normal winter. In fact, there's a 35–40% chance that temperatures will be above average, meaning things can get a little warmer. There's always the possibility of a quick snap, but it's just less likely.
If this winter is as warm as NOAA is expecting, it would be the third warm winter in a row. 2015 broke records for having higher-than-average temperatures. Whether this is indicative of climate change, or just seasonal variability and trend, is still a matter of debate.
And still, even though there are a lot of factors that need to be accounted for, climatologists are connecting the dots between these winters and the overall shift of a warming climate. They hope that another warm winter will wise deniers up to the real and present danger. Let's hope so.