fter considerable review, it appears that some of The Almanack's early winter predictions have not come to pass. The Gruber Almanack, LLC offers the following update clarifying some of the discrepancies:
Weather forecasts that appear in The Hagerstown Town and Country Almanack are calculated and written each year in June for the following calendar year. As of June 2015, it was apparent that an El Niño event was brewing in the Central Pacific Ocean. There was disagreement at that time as to what strength it would have. The Almanack predicted that it would be weak, leading it to a forecast of a severe winter in the East, at least for the first half of the season. it was thought that the second half would be warmer, ending the 2-3 year cycle of severe winters in the East.
In actuality, this turned out to be a mistake. The El Niño has evolved into one of the strongest on record, resulting in upside-down conditions all over the globe. Above-average temperatures have persisted since October. Many records have been broken. As this is being written in mid-December, record warmth covers the East Coast. In contrast, the West Coast is receiving much-needed rain and snow, due to a growing and persistent trough over the western half of the continent. This complements the ridge that has spent much time over the eastern half. The northern jet stream rides over the top of this ridge, locking most cold air masses up in Canada. There is a frequent invasion of storms along the West Coast as a massive low pressure system in the Gulf of Alaska spins off pieces of energy every few days. Normally, a weaker El Niño would have these storms hit farther south, in California. But this one is so strong that Oregon and Washington are the targets, since tropical events have been pushed farther north.
In the East, we have seen the strange phenomenon of a winter-time Bermuda High, pumping warm air northward from the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico. Several locations have broken records for the latest snowfall of the season. Owners of ski resorts are in desperation, wondering if they will see any business at all this season. The Almanack is holding out for a major East Coast snowstorm on or about Presidents Day weekend. This sometimes happens during years of a strong El Niño. So stay tuned. Time will tell.
Submitted by Bill O’Toole
Gruber Almanack, LLC
December 12, 2015