What Goes Into Forecasting The Long-Range Outlook

Weather Blog

The winter outlook this year predicts temperatures to be slightly above normal and perception to be right about normal, but how does the NOAA, the national Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration come out with this long-term outlook.  

Like putting together a puzzle, meteorologist look at many different factors to put together the full pictures of the forecast. 

Start the puzzle by looking at sea surface temperatures, especially in the area of the Pacific Ocean that will determine the strength of the El Nino or La Nina pattern.  

When water temperatures are unusually warm the pattern is concerned to be El Nino, cooler water temperatures would be considered a La Nino pattern. 

This is where the picture starts to come together, this is because the temperatures of the Pacific Ocean is really key is driving Global circulation for both temperatures and precipitation.  

After determining the pattern in place, meteorologist then look at secondary elements such as North American Oscillations, also known a NAO, this is the fluctuation in the difference of Atmospheric pressure at sea level. They also look at convective trends in the Pacific Ocean, as well as a few other elements. Meteorologist take this data in different combination to see how it has worked out in the past, they put all this data into a matrix to get a probability of the outcome. This gives us our long range outlook. 

The current weather plays into these predictions, right now most the south east is in a drought and it is tough to break out of those patterns.  

Meteorologist look at all these signals, create patterns and then look at how these patterns have acted in the past. This data is used to predict the probability of how the same pattern would act again, and that gives us our outlook. 

Many farms turn to the farmers Almanac for a long-term forecast, while no one really know the secret behind the farmers Almanac forecast. Many meteorologists say while they may be right sometimes, there is no way from a scientific standpoint to produce detailed longer-term forecast.  

This forecast is just a prediction, it is important to keep up with daily forecast because short terms trends can change. And maybe just maybe we will see some wintry weather this year. For Storm Team 2 I’m Meteorologist Arielle Whooley.   

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