Posted by: pyeager | August 17, 2009

Cold In the Northeast this Winter–Look to Siberia

We’ve already received one long-range forecast for a cold, snowy 2009-2010 winter in parts of the East and Mid-Atlantic regions (Snowy, Cold Winter on the Way?) from AccuWeather. This forecast was based on myriad factors, including a weakening El Nino during the winter season; however, Dr. Judah Cohen from Atmospheric and Environmental Researchbelieves that there is a simple way to forecast winter cold in the eastern United States–by looking at the snowfall in Siberia during October.

Siberia Snowfall in October

In this Youtube video, Predicting Winter, Cohen says that he has been using this relatively simple forecasting method for the past 7 years (as of 2007), accurately predicting a colder 2002-2003 winter when many other sources weren’t. He also claims that, based on past data, his method would have been more accurate than traditional forecasting methods during the past 35 years. He wrote an article for the Journal of Climate on the topic, and I believe this is the article: Improved Skill of Northern Hemisphere Winter Surface Temperature Predictions Based on Land-Atmosphere Fall Anomalies. (I hope he’s better at forecasting than he is at writing short, snappy titles.)

I don’t know about you, but I’ll be following Siberian snowfall this October.

Initial Observations

I haven’t done enough research to make definitive comments about his research, but my initial thoughs are:

  • Teleconnections such as this can be useful, so it should not be dismissed because of its simplicity
  • Forecast information gathered from this method is limited, only giving an idea of a seasonal temperature forecast in one part of the country and not including a precipitation forecast
  • I would be interested to know if the weather patterns that result in the snow in Siberia in October could be correlated to a more global seasonal forecast (which is something Dr. Cohen plans to do, according to the video)

–Paul Yeager

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  1. Interesting teleconnection to cold winters in the NE. Without looking at the article, I’m assuming above-average snow in Siberia lends itself to colder NE winters. I suppose, everything else being equal, it makes sense. Heavy snow pack leads to colder temps, drops heights, and helps to create a trough in Siberia as well as the NE US. Definitely something worth watching this Fall.

    • Indeed–we’ll keep an eye on Siberia, which is one place that I haven’t forecast for!

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