Sunday, November 9, 2008

2008-2009 Winter Outlook/Snow Day Prediction

Kokomo-Weather's 2008-2009 Winter Outlook

Many have asked and here it is, the official 2008-2009 Winter Outlook from Kokomo-Weather. Before we get into the meat of the outlook and to the all important snow day prediction for area schools, let me talk about how this forecast came to be, offer some personal commentary, and to review some of last winter.

For many years, I gave into the peer pressure of adulthood and looked to each forecast of snow with despise and dread. That said I knew there was something inside of me that still loved the snow with its splendor and beauty. A couple of years ago, I found out I was not alone with those feelings and decided to allow the snow lover in me come out for all to see. I now look forward to forecasts of snow.

If you have thought as an adult you must despise snow, allow me to set you free. Enjoy each and every snow as if it were your first. Don't curse the slow drive into work but enjoy the extra time you have to enjoy the pristine white landscape. Do it! You will feel better.

I guess I should let you know how this forecast came about. You should know up front I am not trained as a meteorologist or any physical science which might be helpful. I am still a budding amateur with novice skills. While I can do moderately well with understanding short term forecasting, the mysteries of long term forecasting are just that, a mystery.

Even weather professionals politely and sometimes not so politely disagree on how to come up with seasonal outlooks knowing that this isn't an exact science. However the base theory is pretty simple. Find a variety of factors you deem important and look for previous years which were similar and then see what the weather did following. The bad part is weather data collection is still fairly new. Records before 1895 are not comprehensive enough to be useful. Better recorded data started around 1950 and some believe the years of 1970 and beyond are all that can be reliably used to model seasonal data. Remember we need to use data from around the globe and some areas where not technologically advanced to collect and record data until the last half century or so.

What I have done for my forecast is create a composite forecast for north central Indiana from dozens and dozens of other winter outlooks. The forecasters who I selected vary in backgrounds from advanced amateur to national weather service government forecasts to professional meteorologists from energy and agricultural fields. I weeded out forecasts that where just wishcasting for their backyard or ones which had no (sound) reasoning behind them. I think overall I ended up with a good mix but a definite pattern to the winter outlook.

I also did some of my own checking and limited forecasting using some of the information available. However before I present my composite below, lets take a final look at last winter.

The winter of 2007-2008 was one if heartbreak for many in central Indiana. Before I took a more active interest in following winter weather, I never realized how localized snow is to a particular area. For example central Indiana might receive an overnight snow but there can be huge swings in the totals between two locations less than an hour apart by car.

One of the nicest snows of the season came on Saturday December 15th with 4 to 5 inches locally. It sneaked up on us with the final track not revealing itself until the late evening model runs on Thursday. The storm track ended up several hundred miles northwest of originally forecast. In face this storm showed us something we saw all winter long, the northwest trend.

The northwest trend caused much frustration with forecasters and snow lovers alike. About the only thing you can say for sure about the northwest trend is it gave an area of Wisconsin including Madison and Milwaukee more than 100 inches of snow.

We busted on numerous snows including the New Years Day snow and the infamous February 1st bust which was most embarrassing and frustrating to everyone. Everyone had predicted a huge storm which should have crippled the entire region. There had been no northwestern trend with the forecast models and many believed the trend was broken.

Not! The storms low pressure tracked a good 100 to 150 miles northwest. That combined with a dryslot which hovered over Howard County made our predictions of 8-12 inches bust horribly. Just 1 to 2 inches ultimately fell before the storm ended.

A surprise clipper system dropped 4 to 5 inches on the 20th. In reality it should not have been a surprise but confidence levels were pretty low with the forecast models I think most people discounted the system.

There were a few rounds of severe weather thrown in besides the snow to keep everything interesting.

In the end, I busted on the number of snow days Howard County area schools predicting 6 and receiving only 3. However there were two storms which if they didn't hit on a weekend or break would have made my prediction perfect.

So with that said, let's get on with the forecast...

Official Winter Outlook for Howard County, Indiana

Most forecasts consulted speak of a “bookend winter” where we have cold followed by warmth finished by cold again.

Spring will get a late start with cooler than average temperature hanging on through March and April.

Temperature Averages and Forecast (for Kokomo)

December:
Max: 35.8
Min: 21.8
Mean: 28.5

Forecast : Below Average

January:
Max: 30.5
Min: 15
Mean: 22.8

Forecast : Average to Above Average

February:
Max: 35.5
Min: 18.8
Mean: 27

Forecast : Below Average

While there will be a warming in January possibly lasting into the first of February, that doesn't mean we cannot see snow during the warm. Also I believe we will get the snow going possibly as early as Thanksgiving.

Snowfall Averages and Forecast (for Kokomo)

November thru March: 43.10 inches

Forecast: Above Average 50 to 60 inches

Summary: Look for a cold start and finish to winter with a late spring with several weeks of a warm pattern in the middle. There will be several significant snows with December and February looking like the snowiest months.

Neither overall snowfall or overall temperatures will be record breaking.

Something to consider is the early November warmth of last week. We had 6 days of 70 degree temperatures. While no daily record was set, there have been just a few years which had such a warm start to November. They include the notable winters of 71-72, 77-78, and 78-79.

>>>Snow Day Prediction (for Howard County Area Schools): 4 snow days by March 15, 2009.

Credits/Reference:

John Ruggiano
NOAA Climate Prediction Center
Allen Hoffman
Wes, Chuck, HM, Brandon, and many more.

2 comments:

krut said...

Woo Hoo! I've been waiting for this!

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