Will this winter be cold and snowy, or maybe warm and dry? The message, this year, is one of a wait and see winter forecast.
The winter weather outlook is calling for neutral conditions, according to the National Weather Service in Missoula.
Bob Nester, senior forecaster with the National Weather Service, says the winter will include cold and snow events, but the frequency of the events is uncertain.
“There’s no clear signal for western Montana,” he said Thursday. “There is no clear signal or strong confidence to show we will have above, below or normal temperature and precipitation.”
In issuing its annual winter weather outlook last week, the National Weather Service said for November through March, the forecast is for El Nino-Southern Oscillation-neutral or ENSO-neutral, which refers to the periods in which neither El Nino nor La Nina are present, often in the times transitioning between the two weather patterns.
However, Nester notes, some of the coldest and snowiest winter events have occurred during neutral years.
During Christmas of 1996, 40 plus inches of snow was recoded, and Missoula recorded its coldest temperature of 33 degrees below zero in January 1957, both during neutral years.
This winter it will be important to look at the weather service’s 10-day and two-week forecasts because that will be a greater indicator of the weather than the seasonal forecast, according to Nester.
“It’s a good indicator for how high of confidence there is for big changes,” such as for arctic outbreaks or big precipitation events, he said.