“If a groundhog sees his shadow on Feb. 2, six more weeks of winter will follow.”
We’ve all heard this old wives’ tale before, and many of us wonder if there is any scientific base for seasonal climate prediction. Here at Colorado College, where winter sports are so popular, many of us access weather forecasts to plan our outdoor activities. Guest writer Nila Horner spoke with some of our local meteorologists and accessed specific weather databases to gain insight on the snow prediction for this coming winter.
The first place most people think of when they consider seasonal weather predictions is the Old Farmer’s Almanac. This publication has been used for almost 250 years to predict weather patterns across the country.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac, “Winter will be much snowier than normal, with near-normal rainfall. The snowiest periods [in Colorado] will be in late November, early and mid-December, mid- and late January, mid-February, and early March. Temperatures will be below normal in the North and near normal in the South, with the coldest periods in mid-December, mid- and late January, and in early to mid-February.” While this news is great for skiers and snowboarders alike, some top meteorologists in the area were a little skeptical of the Almanac’s long-term predictions.
Matt Meister, the chief Meteorologist for KRDO News Channel 13 in
Colorado Springs said, “[Scientific] seasonal forecasting is in its infancy. While we continue to learn about the global earth, ocean, and atmosphere interactions that can drive our seasonal weather patterns, our knowledge base at the present time isn’t robust enough to provide a high degree of accuracy on a seasonal basis.”
Marty Venticinque, meteorologist at KRDO, agreed with his colleague in that he is “not a big fan of seasonal climate prediction…[however,] there are climatologists that specialize in attempting to make such forecasts.” Marty provided us with access to these forecasting maps, which are pictured below. He offered a warning by saying, “Understand that these are probability forecasts that use climatological norms as a base. The Above/Below contours that you see for the maps are just a percentage chance that the seasonal totals will end up above or below the seasonal averages. I guess I’m saying that personally, I wouldn’t make too many plans based on these forecasts.”
Finally, Justin Chambers, morning anchor and meteorologist at Fox21 Morning News in Colorado Springs, added, “While there’s no way to predict what Mother Nature will do, I hope that we will get good snow in the mountains that will help our snow pack. The recent rains helped the drought, but there is no real correlation that because of that we will have more snow.”
What is the best way to access winter weather information according to these professionals? Check out our local news stations either on television or on the web seven to ten days before a planned activity to guarantee more accurate weather predictions. These top weather-predicting professionals all seem to agree that while there is no way to project precise weather for the winter season—including groundhog predictions—they are hopeful for outdoor recreation enthusiasts that this winter will be nice and snowy.