The leaves are nearly gone, the mowing has come to an end, and jackets are once again a necessary part of morning attire. Yes, it's time to once again blow summer a gentle kiss goodbye and steel ourselves for what's to come. After last year's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad winter, everyone is understandably a bit anxious about a repeat showing.
So what can we expect from Old Man Winter for 2015/2016? Seasonal forecasts are notoriously tricky, but we've gathered a bunch below from both scientific and less-than sources. Throw a "Godzilla" El Niño to shake everything up and, as a NASA climatologist recently said, this year's winter is "definitely not going to be normal."
So yeah, I'm throwing my money on the caterpillars.
Forecast #1: AccuWeather
According to AccuWeather expert long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok (who also has a glorious job title), the Northeast will get a pass on a repeat of last year's brutal cold. California meanwhile will get some drought relief from El Niño in the form of rain and decent snowfall in the mountains. Conversely, the Northwest and Northern Rockies will experience mild temps and little snowfall. Wet conditions will grip the South, with severe storms from Florida to Texas.
Forecast #2: Woolly bear caterpillars
I saw one of these on my doorstep this past weekend and thought, "Oh man, summer is really over." What I should have done, as the people of Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, have for the last 19 years, is use its colors as a winter forecast. Since 1997, the Woolly Worm Festival has been examining the "size and plushness" of the black bands on the woolly as indicators of the winter to come. "The thicker the black, the worse the winter will be," festival founder Mike Glazer told PennLive.
As for this year's forecast, organizers say the caterpillar's colors allude to a milder winter, but with some significant snowstorms. They added that their "predictions are 108 percent accurate."
Forecast #3: The Farmer's Almanac
Using a formula that's said to include an analysis of sunspot activity, planetary position, and "many other factors," the Farmer's Almanac has for nearly two centuries provided guidance on future winter weather. Let's hope this year that they're completely wrong.
Going against woolly bears and AccuWeather experts, the Farmer's Almanac is predicting a near-repeat of last year's awful winter. Bitter cold will once again grip the Northeast, California will apparently (and unbelievably) recieve no impact from "Godzilla" El Niño, and everyone else will just be wet and frosty. Their advice? "Stock up on lots of winter survival gear: sweaters, long johns, and plenty of firewood.”
Forecast #4: Weather Channel
If El Nino holds, the U.S. could be looking at a warmer than normal winter, according to the Weather Channel. (Photo: Weather Channel)
Factoring in impact from El Niño, the Weather Channel is predicting above average temps for the Northeast, with colder temps for the southern half of the nation, and unusually warm weather for the Pacific Northwest. "The strength and location or 'flavor' of the El Niño event suggests that a very warm 1982-83 or 1997-98 winter is quite possible," said Dr. Todd Crawford, WSI chief meteorologist.
The network did not disclose precipitation estimates, but did mention a wetter-than-normal winter season for California. It also released its full list of storm names for the 2015/2016 winter including Yolo, Mars, Ursula and my personal favorite, Zandor.