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NOAA Predicts a Big Snow Year

NOAA Predicts a Big Snow Year

[ Fri, 2009-12-11 14:49 ]
December Snow 2009
El Niño trends often mean heavy snowfall, but other effects -- warmer temps and drier weather for some parts of the country -- aren't as welcome. Will the weathermen get it right this year?

Maybe you hadn't noticed, but it's been snowing a lot this year. A lot: Sierra-st-Tahoe just reported another few feet on the way after a seriously deep early December; southwest Colorado is get positively hammered, with Silverton Mountain receiving close to three feet this week; and even the East Coast has broken into winter, with more and more trails opening earlier than ever. The reason for all this fluffy goodness? El Niño, of course. Now, a couple of years ago we wrote about the effects of El Niño and what it meant for skiers that year. We talked to weathermen and -women, and more than a few meteorologists, and the talk was data-heavy and laden with terminology -- Kelvin waves and the Madden-Julian oscillation -- that made us feel pretty righteous in predicting massive spring snowfall for all the world to enjoy. And we were almost 100 percent wrong: It was a warmer-than-normal spring almost everywhere, and the snowfall was weak. (Sorry about that, by the way.) Well, Outside magazine's Powder Feed blog has now taken up the weather-prediction challenge, recently speaking with a big cheese from the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Not to knock on a fellow mag, but some of their predictions are already ringing a little off. Drier than average in the Pacific Northwest? Whistler Blackcomb, up there in British Columbia, is sitting under 18 feet of snow right now. Warmer temps in the West? Colorado's just coming out of a subzero cold snap that made national news. Of course, the only prediction that really matters is more snow overall -- which just happens to be the one that, so far, is coming true. Nice work, NOAA.