ESCO Advisors 2016 Winter Forecast…

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ESCO Advisors 2016 Winter Forecast…

ian-palao

2016 Summer Recap

Figure 1 contains the ESCO Advisors Summer 2016 forecast.  We were bullish on heat in the central part of the country, from the central/southern Plains through the Ohio Valley and south into the northern Gulf Coast.  Figure 2 shows the actual temperature anomalies from May through September.   As you can see, we were pretty close with the placement of the warmest anomalies.  With just a little northeastward nudge of the heat anomaly into the Mid-Atlantic and we would have just about nailed it.

Figure 1

ESCO Advisors May 2016—September 2016 Temperature Anomaly Forecast

Figure 2

fig2

As for our tropical storm prediction of 9 named storms, 6 hurricanes, and 2 major hurricanes…. We fell short in the total number of storms.   Thus far, there have been 14 named storms.  We have done well with the prediction of hurricane and major hurricane counts as those totals are currently 6 and 3, respectively, with 2 months remaining.   Typically, hurricanes in November are not a threat to the US.

As for placement of the storms, we called for 4 storms in the Gulf of Mexico.  So far, we are dead-on with that as four have made it into the Gulf, although two of them went to Mexico and were no threat to the US.  We were a bit off in the activity that was seen on the East Coast, however.

 

Winter 2016/17

In this section, we will outline what we think will be the most likely influence of our Winter weather…Arctic Ice, La Nina, and Soil Moisture.

Arctic Ice

This summer, Arctic ice reached its second-lowest areal extent in the satellite record of 37 years.  Oddly enough, Arctic summer air temperatures were a bit cooler than average and air pressures were generally lower than average due to increased Arctic storms this summer.  As a result, a few months ago it was surmised that extreme sea ice loss would not occur this year as those two factors point to reduced ice loss.

The minimum this year was reached on September 10.  Ice scientists believe that the much lower than normal coverage was exacerbated by two tropical cyclones in the Pacific Ocean which greatly increased both wave activity and oceanic thermal mixing during late August and the first week of September.   Recall that ocean waves travel long beyond their origination.  These are oceanic swell waves.

Currently, sea ice will continue to build (as it normally does beginning in late summer/early fall) as the polar low expands in areal extent and intensifies (figure 3).

Figure 3

fig3

It is the building of sea ice which leads to a steady supply of cold air for transport into the mid-latitudes of North America via meridional kinks in the jet stream.  In late September, the building of sea ice was at an accelerated rate for the time of year as compared to the long-term average ice build (although it has slowed a bit during the second week of October).  If, as we progress through October and November, ice continues to build at a greater-than-seasonal rate, overall areal coverage may get very close to the long-term average rather quickly.  That could easily invigorate southward transportation of Arctic air into the US during winter.

La Nina

This time last year, we were preparing for a major El Nino event.  That event happened and happened with some gusto.  Beginning in April 2016, there were grumblings about a La Nina event for this Winter.  At one point this summer, probabilities were listed at 70% that La Nina would occur.  As of 2 months ago, although we had seen some eastern tropical Pacific Ocean sea surface temperature cooling (as would be the case with a La Nina event), it had not proceeded to the extent most scientists believed it would have by that point in time.  Therefore, the “La Nina Watch” conditions were dropped in favor of “neutral”.  For the record, “neutral” conditions are fairly typical of a “normal” Fall/Winter set-up.

As scientists are not seeing a steady and pronounced cooling in the eastern tropical Pacific Ocean, probabilities now favor a “neutral/weak La Nina” status by January 2017, as opposed to a definitive, steady-state La Nina event.   Scientists now believe the weak Nina status will develop by December only to relax into the “neutral” category by February.  That is quite the decrease from a 70% La Nina environment which was forecast as the consensus this past summer.

At the most, if La Nina were to happen, it would be a weak Nina.  As for its impact on this winter, neutral and weak Nina are not very different with respect to climate impacts as La Nina is just an amplification of the “normal” winter set-up in the tropical Pacific Ocean.  It is El Nino which is a marked change in the environment from “normal” and has sometimes devastating weather impacts from droughts to floods in various parts of the world.  A strong Nina would have more of a climatic impact as well.

Soil Moisture

Soil moisture is important during winter in a similar vein that it is important during summer….the higher the moisture, the less extreme the air temperatures will be.   As of mid-October, there are 3 areas of moderate/severe drought: central CA, the northern Gulf Coast, and New England.

What does all of this mean in terms of climate impacts????

We are calling for a generally cooler-than-normal pattern for the northern tier east of the Rockies for the November-March period (figure 4).  We feel that the cold pool will be “healthy” and that because of a lack of mechanisms to keep the jet stream bottled-up in Canada, southerly intrusions of Arctic air will occur, even later in the winter season.  The coldest area will be in the Northeast (especially given the dry conditions) with decreasing cold anomalies (but still overall cool anomalies) into the Midwest and Plains.  Look for an active lake-effect snow season as the more opportunity for frontal passages will allow for wind with a northerly component to blow across the Great Lakes.  For the most part, we believe the Southwest through Texas will be warm and the Northwest and Inter-Mountain West will both be “normal”.

Figure 4

fig4

Keep in mind that these forecast anomalies are for the aggregated November through March time frame.  There will be weeks of back-and-forth cooler/warmer/normal weather no matter where in the country you reference.
As for risks to our forecast, they are probably in the placement of the coldest anomalies.  If the Arctic air takes a “pathway of entrance” more towards the Plains, that will shift the coldest anomalies west into the Midwest and Plains.  From our perspective, it all hinges on “where” the cold will flow into the country, and less on “if” the cold flows into the country.

 

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NOTE: ESCOWare® and ESCO Advisors™ provide this information as a courtesy to enhance the risk management process and are not responsible for the accuracy of this forecast and/or actions taken as a result of this forecast information.

To learn more about the ESCOWare® suite of software solutions, please contact Irv Lebovics at 203-456-1833 or visit www.escoware.com

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