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Winter 19/20 Long-Range Weather Forecast

13th September 2019 | Chris Tomer

Winter 19/20 Long-Range Weather Forecast- ©Chris Tomer

Winter forecast 19/20: Moisture levels across North America

Copyright: Chris Tomer

 

➽ What will the snow be like for winter 2019/2020?

Our long-range weather forecast for winter 2019/2020 is showing that El Niño is over.

We've officially transitioned from El Niño to a neutral phase.  A neutral phase occurs when neither El Niño nor La Niña are in control.  Put another way, it means the water temperatures in the South Pacific Equatorial current have cooled from last winter when they were running warmer than normal.

Related Read: What is El Niño?

 

➽ Why is this important?

Water temperatures in the South Pacific Equatorial current help position the jet stream during winter and this ultimately influences where the heaviest snow falls.  It is one key factor, but not the only one.

The lack of a firm swing to either El Niño or La Niña means the long-range weather forecast for 2019/20 is harder to predict.

➽ Will this winter be similar to last winter?

No.  I believe there will be important differences.  Last winter was dominated by El Niño and that anchored the jet stream off the Californian coast, pulling in copious amounts of Pacific moisture.  This included several large Atmospheric River (“AR”) setups.  The heavy moisture from ARs can quickly tilt a losing winter into a winner.  Overall, it translated into heavier-than-normal snowfall from California to Utah to Colorado, which made for an awesome winter for skiers!

➽ Will we see ARs this winter? 

Yes, but not as many as last winter.

Get Weekly Ski Forecasts All Season! 

 

Long-range weather forecast for winter 2019/2020

The official forecast is predicting a 50-55% chance of the neutral phase continuing through winter.  If it were to tilt, it would be toward El Niño (30% chance).  The chance of it tilting towards La Niña is 15%.

Moisture levels for winter 19/20  - © Chris Tomer

Moisture levels for winter 19/20

Copyright: Chris Tomer

➽ Timing and key messages

  • I'm forecasting a see-saw battle between the southern jet stream and the polar front jet stream. The see-saw jet streams will shift the heaviest snow around from fall to winter to spring.  It could bring heavy snow followed by abnormally warm dry stretches – meaning powder days may not be as consistent as last year’s. Last winter, the southern jet stream was dominant because of El Niño's influence. There were several atmospheric river patterns (ARs) that delivered feet of snow to ski resorts. The heaviest snow fell in CA, UT, NM, and CO. 
  • I believe fall 2019 favors the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West including Whistler/Blackcomb, ID, MT, WY and Northern CO for the most consistent snowfall.  It also favors the Northeast.
  • Then the pattern shifts and the most consistent snow moves south: December, January and February CA, UT, CO, southern ID, and Southern WY.
  • Then the pattern shifts back to the north: Late winter and spring favors the Pacific Northwest and Intermountain West including Whistler/Blackcomb, ID, MT, WY and Northern CO for the most consistent snowfall. It also favors the Northeast. This part is the most uncertain because it's so far out.

Resort snowfall predictions for winter 19/20  - © Chris Tomer

Resort snowfall predictions for winter 19/20

Copyright: Chris Tomer

 

Gallery

Winter forecast 19/20: Moisture levels across North America - © Chris Tomer
Moisture levels for winter 19/20 - © Chris Tomer
Winter outlook For 19/20 - © Chris Tomer
Moisture levels in the West - © Chris Tomer

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