Good Question: What Happened To The Winter Forecast?

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The predictions all pointed to a snowy and cold winter. So far, it’s been anything but.

While there may be snow on the ground right now, it won’t be around for too long. And this got Mary Weekley wondering: How far ahead can predictions be made and how can the current one be so far off?

Both are Good Questions.

Joe Calderone, a senior forecaster with the National Weather Service, points out three factors at play: (1) surface temperatures of the Pacific Ocean, which were predicted to be below normal and ended up coming up; (2) a weakening La Nina trend; and (3) the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which can change from week to week.

“The NAO has always been a wild card, and in the climate forecast, it’s happened to play a major wild card … this winter,” Calderone said.

WCCO chief meteorologist Chris Shaffer said the winter forecast has seen a big change from a few months ago.

“Looking ahead to January, they’ve now adjusted and your starting to see long-term forecasts that more resemble what we have with milder temperatures and equal precipitation,” Shaffer said.

Shaffer and the other weather experts say it’s not out of the question for outlooks to take an unexpected turn mid-season.

“The 6 to 10 and 18-day forecasts are pretty reliable,” Calderone said. “It’s relatible to the 7 day forecasts that we had 10 years ago.”

While there are reliable forecasts in place for six months out, the weather can certainly stray from trends and patterns.

Shaffer said this winter is similar to 2006. There wasn’t measurable snow depth that winter until late February or early March. He also said we have to remember that there are still a few months to go and that it’s hard to stay in one weather pattern all winter.

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  • In Blaine

    Why did WCCO change to new weather page? Old one was GREAT! New one BITES! Can’t read satilite photos, all blue, can’t see map under blue. Please put old weather maps back.

    • Wild Bill

      I’ve left WCCO for the most part, used to be great and now things are getting confused. I preferred the old website, much more user friendly, I also preferred the weather page before this one. I now go directly to the National Weather Service for my weather info. Just looking at the radars on the National Weather Services gives more info than WCCO gives in a blog post+radar.

  • Kay-M

    I agree – I like the old weather page much better. I have found tho, that when it is on the Hyperlocal view – if I click on “map” instead of “satellite” – it makes it much easier to see (it gets rid of the topographical info).

    I also liked the WCCO website better before it became the CBS – Minnesota site!!

  • barrister

    Have also left WCCO . Onair people are terrible, except for Mischke!
    Lynch is the worst weather guy ever,Dave Lee is just an imbecile.Michelle Tafoya,Mike Max are a couple of conserative hacks who think they can mix sports and politics! I wont buy anything they advertise

    • M Ponens

      I love Tafoya and Max. I hardly consider them conservative, unless one’s definition of conservative is not being a raging liberal. They are fair and always have interesting shows. If that is the standard for deciding what to buy, I would expect “barrister” only eats tofu and wears hemp suits to court while arguing for voting rights for kitty cats.

  • Weather Nut

    What about the Arctic Oscillation? That index is a measure of how well the cold, Arctic air is swooping down over us. Right now that index is positive which means that the cold, Arctic air we’re familiar with does not move south toward us.

  • Julian

    I am simply wondering when your became the contraction of you are.

  • Swamp Fox

    WCCO really is making a muck-up of its weather forecasts etcetera. As one who needs to keep up on the weather, since I am outside in the elements for most of the day, ‘CCO really isn’t telling me or showing a good forecast. I am speaking locally, regionally, and nationally as it relates to Minnesota and WCCO land.

    Your weather maps have nice colors and readable numbers but where are the isometric graphics and weather symbols showing the overall big climatological picture? Let’s not hear the emotional mushy it’s cold outside when the winter temperatures are in the 30’s and it’s glorious winter sunshine! Didn’t I mention that it’s supposed to be in the minus(-) temperatures this time of year?

    Why aren’t we getting snowfall? Why is this another warm winter again here? Is this winter going to contribute to being a possible dry hot MN summer that is possibly going to be another drought year? WCCO has always been on top of the weather forecasting pyramid with factual, mostly concise, and information filled forecasts that kept us prepared for the vagaries of the MN climate.

    It’s unfortunate that these award winning weather-casts have turned into color-filled pablum forecasts that leave much needed meteorological information lacking. Those of us who spent most of our lives outdoors need solid climate and weather data in the forecasts to do our activities and jobs. Yes, weather forecasting is not always exact but the information provided can help all of us prepare for the unexpected that does pop-up in our climate region.

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  • Jack

    Don’t make me laugh. The weather forecast is generally not accurate beyond 48 hours, and frequently is atrocious even *within* 48 hours.

    I don’t know what this Calderone guy has been smoking, but he’d better make extra sure there are no police cars in his driveway. ;)

  • Jill

    Will we get any more freezing days or nights? I want to put out my Pomegranate tree and tangerine tree that can not be outside in the freezing weather? You are great and enjoy watching you on the 10p news..

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