Central Pacific water temperatures are not cooling off as much as originally forecast. We are currently in a neutral phase, which means we're in between El Niño and La Niña. It's also important to note the warmer than normal water temps off the Pacific and Atlantic coasts. Why is all this important? Water temperatures in all three zones help determine where the wintertime jet stream will position itself, and that in turn helps determine where the heaviest snowfall ends up this winter.
Outlook: The latest forecast data suggests a continuation of neutral conditions this fall mixed with La Niña lite this winter. This is a small but important change from my previous winter outlook. Why? The average position of the wintertime jet stream gets forced a bit further north along the Pacific Coast.
Biggest Winners for Above Normal Snowfall
Mount Baker, Mount Hood, Mount Rainier, Mount Bachelor, Whistler/Blackcomb, Lake Louise, Schweitzer, Sun Valley, Bogus Basin, Big Sky, Bridger Bowl, Discovery, Whitefish, Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee, Steamboat and Buffalo Pass. In the Northeast, Jay Peak, Killington, Sunday River, Sugarloaf, Wildcat and Mount Snow.
Near Normal Snowfall: Lake Tahoe ski areas, Aspen/Snowmass, Copper, Vail, Loveland, Alta and Snowbird.
My Forecast - Percentage of Average Snowfall this Winter
• Mount Hood, Mount Baker, Mount Rainier: 120%
• Whistler, Lake Louise: 120%
• Schweitzer, Sun Valley, Bogus Basin: 120%
• Big Sky, Whitefish, Bridger Bowl: 120%
• Jackson Hole, Grand Targhee: 120%
• Steamboat, Buffalo Pass: 105%
• Jay Peak, Sugarbush, Sugarloaf, Killington: 105%
• Squaw Valley, Northstar, Heavenly: 95%
• Aspen, Copper, Vail, Loveland: 95%
• Alta, Snowbird, Park City: 95%
• Mammoth: 85%
Tomer's Take: I have a feeling that it's going to be a late start to Winter. If you're planning a Christmas ski vacation, the dark green Western bullseye in the graphic is your best bet where the odds are highest for consistent, above normal snowfall.
I would expect a few more small changes to this overall forecast in the next two months as water temperatures continue to change. Please check back.