Every year at the autumn equinox, September 21, the sun sets at the north pole and all that remains is twilight, until the first week of October. Then it becomes perpetual darkness for the winter. When the switch is flipped from twilight to perpetual darkness, a switch is also flipped beginning the new weather pattern for the next 12 months. This is exactly what is occurring now. We are beginning to see the new pattern, and along with it the new cycle length.
Although personally I have been using the cycling pattern for eight years now, it wasn’t until three years ago that I started getting organized by creating charts. They were crude at first, but they worked. I printed off blank calendars and pasted a couple together to create my first “cycle length” chart.
By using this chart I could track storms and snowfall amounts, then use the information in later cycles. The cycle length for the above chart, was 58 1/2 days for the 2019/20 season.
For the 2020/21 season, I started using spreadsheets. The spreadsheets were much easier to track from cycle the cycle. It also cut down on simple mistakes.
Pacific Oscillation PO
Now I am using XCel to create a powerful new tool that will help with forecasting. I am calling it the Pacific Oscillation (PO). The PO will index the Pattern similar to how the Arctic Oscillation charts it’s daily variability in winter. I will publish the PO index right here at FutureSnow. A good example of how it works will be forthcoming, however I can tell you that the storm that just came through Colorado, showed up very well on the index. The index will track the strength of the cycle against the other teleconnections.
Last year‘s La Niña winter produced below average snowfall for most of the country. The exception was the Pacific Northwest, specifically north of Oregon. There were two big systems that were about two weeks apart In the middle of this year’s 46.3 day cycle. I called them co-signature or CoSig storms because they were about equal in their production. They produced well in every cycle, with cycle 3, Feb 4th, being the biggest producer for CoSig 2 and cycle 4 March 14th for Co-Sig 1.
Below is the evolution of CoSig 1
The second signature storm occurred a little less than two weeks after CoSig 1 each cycle. A quick note about the second storm, when it came through in February, the energy from this system dislodged the polar vortex and caused it to wobble. A week later it hit Texas.
On April 10th I wrote a blog about how the pattern has the ability to predict hurricanes, you can find that post here. My peers have been developing this technology so I thought I would give it a go. So a little background on the previous blog post. When there is a hurricane during the new cycle, those hurricanes and their paths have a strong tendency to repeat the following hurricane season. The pattern sets up in the fall and then cycles regularly until the new pattern emerges in late summer.
On August 27th last year, Hurricane Laura hit Louisiana coast. Then on October 9th Hurricane Delta hit in nearly the same spot, the southwestern Louisiana coast, which was day 4 of the cycle (46.5 day cycle length). Fast forward to today there is a tropical storm forming in nearly the same place and is on target to hit the Louisiana coast on August 30th which is day 7 of this years cycle. Below is the charts of last years GFS and the predicted chart for August 30th. I chose September 4th as the likely date with a +/- of 7 days. Next year I will know that I can be sharper with my predicted dates. I won’t go into how I calculated the Sept 4 date with things like adding half days and lag, but I will say that I learned a lot from this experience. I will update with a new blog in the coming days. Thanks for spending a few moments reading the blog. If you have any questions be sure to ask them in the comments section or send me an email to Mike@FutureSnow.co.
Vail, Beaver Creek, Breckenridge and other Colorado Mountains
For skiers, snowboarders, and snow enthusiasts in Colorado, Utah, Nevada, and California, a La Nina or neutral winter can be an unwanted guest. During La Nina winters, the strength of storm systems are reduced meaning usually less snow accumulation. When comparing snowfall charts below for Vail Colorado, in the winter of 2018-19 (El Niño) versus 2020-21 (La Niña), there were 10 events over 6+ inches during El Niño , 7 for La Niña. Overall snowfall for the resort was 281” 18/19 and 192” 20/21 season. There were 77 snow events, in 18/19, where it snowed at least 1 inch vs. 56 events last season.
The Pattern for this Winter
The dynamic coupling of ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation) and the cycling pattern, create the path and strength of storms throughout the northern hemisphere . Since ENSO is predicted to be either neutral or La Niña for this upcoming winter, we can expect a similar amount of snowfall events and accumulation like last year. Each year is different, however, and the positioning of the other Tele-connections, such as the Arctic oscillation (AO), the North Atlantic oscillation (NAO), Madden Julian oscillation (MJO), and the Pacific North American pattern (PNA) can change the results—good or bad. Think of a vehicle with the four teleconnections as tires. The size of the engine is ENSO, El Niño is like a giant SUV (Excursion or Hummer) La Niña is like a minivan and Neutral conditions are like the huge car your Grandpa drove (Picture 1970s Buick). Neutral years are wild cards. That’s why I use the grandpa reference. Some grandpas drive 30 in a 50 mph zone, while others, like my grandfather, didn’t know there was a speed limit.
Much more to come as we get a little closer to October. Stay tuned.
Weather forecast for Vail Colorado. Weather forecast for Summit county. Weather forecast for Beavercreek Colorado. Weather forecast for Breckenridge Colorado.
Pretty hazy in Colorado the past couple of weeks but there have been some spectacular sunsets. I will post a La Nina update on FutureSnow.CO soon. Will there be good snow for CO next season? Stay tuned!
Impressive numbers for a May storm. Eldora had over a foot, Vail 10, Winter Park 7, Breck 6, Copper and Snowmass 5, Arapahoe Basin a thick 4. Disappointing numbers at ABay, I thought they would at least get 8. I will investigate and see how well it skis today. Tons of terrain open and I’m thinking the Cornice and Beavers should be fantastic.
This puts a wrap on the predictions chart. This storm was a great punctuation mark for showcasing the Pattern.
Winter storm warning issued today until 3pm–that will be extended. Paltry totals for most mountains yesterday, but that will change today with 4-8″ at Breck and ABasin. Eldora was the winner yesterday with 4 or 5″(cam est) Eldora should do really well today, as well, but the bullseye of this storm is the RMNP area and Winter Park.
Expect snow showers today with heavy snow at times. Temps will be in the mid 20s with highs near 30 today. Tonight much colder air will move in with temps in the teens. RMNP and Winter Park area will have winds in the 5-10 range with gusts of 15 mph. ABasin and Breck areas will have stronger winds of 10-15 with 30-35 mph gusts. 3-5″ today with 4-8″ after the lifts close. The movement of this storm has slowed a little so expect snow showers to continue through the night and tomorrow morning. Below is the GFS projected totals.
We are wrapping our inaugural season of FutureSnow with a great storm that was predicted way back on February 21st. We predicted 10 storms on that day and had just 1 bust. 90% for the last 10 storms and 87% for the season (43/49 87.7%). Here is the link for our complete scorecard:
This ability to be able to predict storms months in advance allows you to ask off from work, or be able to book trips for the cheapest possible prices and not be let down by bad snow conditions. Busts still happen but with a record approaching 90% the odds are ever in your favor–much more than just throwing a dart. Also, there are better years than this La Nina season. El Nino years produce much larger snowfall totals with the same ability to predict “Pattern” systems.
Do you know that this year the same number of snowfall days occurred in Colorado than last year, but with 30% less snow? Its true, 58 snowfall days this year vs 58 snowfall days last year–example from Beaver Creek if it had the same season length due to last years shortened COVID season.
Forecast for Sunday 1-2″
Today expect scattered snow with an inch or two at ABasin, and Breck. The main energy will start after the lifts stop spinning Sunday night.
Monday 2-4″ Daytime and 4-8″ Overnight
Snow throughout the day Monday. Larger totals will be in the RCMP area so a good place to make powder turns at the old Hidden Valley Resort. They took the lifts out in the early 90’s but the runs are still there and not overgrown. You can skin up or carpool to the top (if the road is open).
Powder day. The bulk of the snowfall will occur before the lifts start spinning on Tuesday. However, there will be scattered snow throughout the day with a couple more inches possible.
We are tracking a large spring storm that will begin in Colorado’s southern mountains late Sunday night. As of now, expect snow, off and on, throughout the day Monday and then scattered snow showers on Tuesday. This is a cold storm, especially for this time of year, It has produced in every cycle and is part 2 of this years Co-Signature (CoSig) storms. Below is the results of this impressive repeating system. When we get a little closer I will dial in the amounts, but it looks like solid double digits as of now. This storm’s history tells us that the GFS can be trusted. Below are the results throughout cycles 1-4.
Last Cycle (4)
Wolf 14″, Telluride 14″ Vail 9″
Cycle 3 Storm a day early)
Vail 29″, Breckenridge 23″, Crested Butte 14″
Cycle 2 (Tracked more favorably for Utah)
Breckenridge 6″, Alta 20″
Wolf 25″, Vail 15″, Crested Butte 16″
Here is a look at the signature troughs that occur with this system. Notice the similarities with the position of the ridge and the shape of the trough. Remember, the teleconnections drive the shape and strength of the storm with ENSO (LaNina) being the biggest influence.
We have one last prediction, May 9th, that was predicted way back on February 21st. Presently it is looking like a good storm and we will go out with a bang–with some double digits!
We will keep an eye on this storm and I’ll update you in a few days. If it holds together I’ll head out to Arapahoe Basin one last time–or maybe not the last–we will see. The snowpack will definitely not make it to July and probably not even June either.
If all holds together we will finish the year with an average accuracy of 87%. In this La Nina year we got it mostly right. In fact, this year is similar to last year if you look at the number of days it snowed. It snowed at Beaver Creek 58 days this year compared to 58 days last year. I had to shorten this season to match the same length last season because of the shutdown. So it snowed a very similar amount of days but the snow was about 30% less.
Below is the updated chart or you can access the spreadsheet here: https://www.dropbox.com/s/9qkwjg6yxrrb3a1/Snow%20totals%202021revised.xlsx?dl=0
There are other ways you can use your knowledge of the pattern. It is useful for predicting severe weather outbreaks. Look for May 18-20th for this possible strong setup for tornados. Thanks for spending a few moments reading the blog. Mike