ESCO Advisors™ 2015 Winter Forecast…

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ESCO Advisors™ 2015 Winter Forecast…

2015 Summer Recap

As we head into fall, let’s take a look at how our Summer 2015 forecast fared.  Figure 1 depicts our Summer 2015 forecast where we predicted much of the country to experience above normal May-Sep temperatures, especially from the northern Plains through the Mid-Atlantic states.  Figure 2 shows the May-Sep 2015 actuals.  Overall, we had the direction (warmer than normal) correct for much of the country.   With respect to magnitude, we were incorrect in predicting the strongest warm anomalies to occur in the Northern Plains/Midwest as they actually occurred in the Northwest and Northeast (which we were somewhat correct).   Additionally, we were incorrect about the normal temperatures in the Northwest coast and along the immediate Gulf Coast.

Our tropical forecast of 11 named storms and 6 hurricanes (of which, 3 were forecasted to be major hurricanes) is looking pretty good at this point.    Thus far, we have had 10 named storms and 3 hurricanes (2 of which were major hurricanes).  At this point, we are only off on the number of hurricanes.

 

FIGURE 1

2015Forecast2

FIGURE 2

fig2

Winter 2015-16

In order to make any forecast, the “inputs” need to be discussed.  In the case of our seasonal forecasts, an examination of the pertinent environmental conditions is necessary.  For this newsletter, we will look at 3 conditions.

Soil Moisture

Although not as big of a driver in winter as in summer, soil moisture still bears a closer inspection.  As I write this in mid-October, areas west of the Rockies are in a severe, long-term drought, with the most devastating conditions throughout the majority of California (Figure 3).  Additionally, drought conditions, though short-term and much less severe, extend from west Texas to Mississippi.  Other than these two areas, there are small pockets of abnormally dry areas scattered throughout the country, but nothing too widespread at this point.  As water holds heat, a lack of soil moisture could enhance any potential cold air outbreak if it were to occur.  Again, this is not something to base a winter forecast on.

 

FIGURE 3

fig3

 

Arctic Ice

Arctic ice plays a role in US winter temperatures because it is an indication of the potential pool of cold air that can flow through Canada into the US.  With substantial Arctic ice in place, a pool of cold air will exist that is available for southward transport into Canada and the US.  Figure 4 shows the areal extent of sea ice coverage as of Oct 18.  As you can see, coverage is below the 1981-2010 long-term average.  Quantitatively, this is about 2-sigma lower than the long-term average.  But, it is also substantially greater than the 2012 minimum.  In a nutshell, there is enough sea ice coverage to generate substantial and deep pools of cold air for transport south into the US if a steering mechanism were to come about.

 

FIGURE 4

fig4

El Niño

This upcoming winter, El Niño is the talk of the town!!  The folks at NOAA have classified this Niño to be “strong”, as based on sea surface temperature anomalies in the equatorial Pacific Ocean exceeding 2.0 C (figure 5).  There are some pockets (at depth) in the Pacific where the temperature anomalies have reached 6.0 C!!  Additionally, most models are predicting that these conditions will exist through Spring 2016.

FIGURE 5

fig5

Although no two Los Niños will impact the US regarding temperature and precipitation in the exact same way with the exact same timing, there are some rules-of-thumb we can turn to for guidance.  This is so because we can say with some level of certainty that El Niño will affect the jet stream patterns over the US.  The northerly jet tends to stay locked in Canada while the southerly jet tends to be active in bringing storms from the Pacific Ocean into the Southwest US and across the southern Plains.

Because of the limited extent of the northern jet, the northern tier of the country tends to be warmer than normal.  And the abundant precipitation caused by the storms riding in on the southerly jet tends to make the southern tier cooler than normal.  Please note that these are general rules of thumb.  There have been numerous Los Niños that did not exactly play into this.

 

The ESCO Advisors 2015-16 Winter Forecast

Given the strong El Niño developing in the equatorial Pacific, this winter should be anything but “normal” for most of the country.   Figure 6 represents ESCO Advisors’ view of temperature anomalies for winter 2015/16.

As was previously mentioned, El Niño events (especially strong events) alter the path of both the northerly and southerly jet streams.  We foresee the northerly jet being contained in Canada more often than not, leading to above-average temperatures in the northern tier of the country.  Please note that this does not mean that short-term colds spell can’t happen for a week or two.  In our opinion, El Niño conditions reduce the frequency, intensity, and duration of intrusions of Arctic air into the US.  It does not necessarily mean that the transport of Arctic air is “shut down”.  We are simply saying that, for the collective 5-month period, November-March, temperatures will average warmer than normal for the northern tier of the country.

Conversely, because of a very active southerly jet stream, the bulk of the West Coast, interior West, and the southern states should experience temperatures that average cooler than normal for the November-March time frame.

FIGURE 6

fig6

As for the evolution of the temperature anomalies, we would expect for December, January, and February (mainly for the northern Plains) to have the warmest anomalies for the northern tier while January, February, and March should all be cooler than normal for the southern tier.  Oddly enough, our research is showing November to be cooler than normal for the entire country.

The Nov-Mar precipitation anomaly maps generally follow the same pattern as the Nov-Mar temperature anomaly maps with abundant precipitation in the West and South and lower-than-normal precipitation in the northern Plains through the Ohio Valley.

If we were to point out the area in our forecast where we feel we could be the most in error, it would be in the Northeast.   Depending upon the location and breadth (expanse) of the mid-continent high pressure system, there could be a risk to the cool side for the Mid-Atlantic and especially New England.  If the dome of high pressure sets up further west towards the Rockies (as opposed to setting up near the Plains) or if the breadth of the high is narrow, that could lead to the possibility of “backdoor” cold fronts sliding into the Northeast with some frequency.  In any event, prudent risk management calls for constant attention to both short-term and intermediate-term weather forecasts/scenarios.

 

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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.

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

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