Yesterday, NOAA published its last winter forecast. The prediction puts Michigan in abnormal conditions for temperature and precipitation. I've talked to the NOAA forecasters and they admit that it's not really a confident forecast.
With a long-term forecast like this last forecast for two to four months, confidence can range from a toss-up situation to some certainty. To have a winter forecast with greater confidence, a strong El Nino is needed.
And that is the reason for a slight prognosis, but no high confidence.
Mike Halpert, Deputy Director of the NOAA Climate Prediction Center, is working on the team preparing the winter forecast. Halpert says the upcoming winter forecast revolves around an El Nino appearing this winter. Halpert claims that El Nino is expected to be weak.
El Nino is the time when a section of the Pacific Ocean along the equator becomes warmer than its long-term average. A strong El Nino brings a high chance of a warmer and drier winter in Michigan.
The forecast for temperatures in Michigan this winter tends to be a better chance at warmer than normal versus colder than normal. But Halpert wants to emphasize that there is still a chance for a colder winter. For the southern Lower, the forecast gives a probability of 33 percent to 40 percent for warmer than normal temperatures. This also means that there is a 33 percent chance of a normal winter and a 27 to 33 percent chance of colder temperatures than normal.
So if you see orange and red on the temperature forecast map, you're not getting too excited either way. There is only a slightly greater chance that it will be a warmer winter than a colder winter.
Driving north to the northern lower and upper reaches the chance of a warmer than normal winter. There is a 40 to 50 percent chance that it will be warmer than the average. But remember, this also means a 17 to 27 percent chance of a colder winter than normal.
The precipitation forecast for this winter shows a tendency to drier than normal conditions in most Great Lakes regions. Again, I would like to remind you that a slightly increased chance of drier conditions also means 17 to 33 percent chance of wetter than average conditions.
One condition Halpert expects this winter in Michigan is its high variability. This means that we can alternate between two and four weeks, alternately warm and cold, wet and dry.
Halpert also wants to point out that even a warmer winter in Michigan will have snow.
I will try to put this into perspective for you. If you are a winter hater, you will probably have one or two much longer stretches warmer than the average weather. You'll get a few breaks from the harsh Michigan winter weather. For winter lovers, you probably have the opposite. If Old Man Winter dominates, it will take a few weeks.
In the end, it could be a winter with something for everyone.
Watch for a NOAA winter forecast update on November 15th. 2018. The forecast would change if El Nino's strength is expected to be stronger or weaker than the current expectation.