NOAA is leaning towards a cooler than normal winter but is a little undecided on how wet it will get, according to a seasonal outlook issued Thursday.
Over the past few months we have watched the El Nino / La Nina forecast for this winter change from neutral (normal sea surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific) to a 55 to 65 percent chance of La Nina (below normal sea surface temperatures).
If you're a skier or snowboarder that change should have made you excited! La Nina winters tend to have more and better snow (read that as more and lighter powder).
This was partly confirmed by NOAA on Thursday when the Climate Prediction Center issued its seasonal outlook for this coming winter.
It calls for December through February (meteorological winter) to most likely have below normal temperatures, but equal chances of above normal or below normal precipitation. However, the outlook for the three month period of January through March does call for above normal precipitation.
So what does this mean if you're counting the days til the ski areas open?
First of all, this is no guarantee of a great ski season. But it does mean that Mother Nature is loading the dice for a winter whose average temperatures will be below normal and whose rainfall may – especially later in the season – be above normal (though hopefully not as wet as last winter).
Don't quit your job to be a ski bum this winter yet. As the Magic 8 Ball says, "The future is hazy – ask again later!" But you have reasons to be optimistic that you will get some use out of that new snowboard.