Memories of the schizophrenic 2013/2014 last winter season still linger. While most of the country suffered through the deepest freeze in two decades, folks west of the Rockies suffered through record-setting heat and drought.
As winter approaches once again, you’re probably wondering if Mother Nature will deliver more of the same.
The short answer: no and yes.
The type of polar vortex that produced life-threatening wind chills in 2013/2014 happens only every 10 years or so. Still, a website maintained by a group of meteorologists and meteorology students says this year could be almost as brutal.
I find their presentation easier to digest than the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) and Farmers’ Almanac. All say pretty much the same thing, though, about an intermittent phenomenon that increases temperatures and precipitation: If El Nino occurs, it'll be too weak to do much good for the U.S.
What this means on a region-by-region basis, according to Schneider Electric Chief Science Officer Jeff Johnson during a free webinar:
- The Northwest will be warmer
- Southwest will have another year of drought
- North Central won’t face the bitter cold of last year and will get average snowfall
- Northeast will get more coastal storms and heavy snowfalls
- Southeast and South Central regions will be colder and wetter.
Most public works departments have probably already taken delivery of salt and/or sand orders for the year. How do you go about deciding how much to order every year? Are weather forecasts helpful or just a shot in the dark? E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.