Developing El Nino could mean snowier winter
NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has noted that sea surface conditions in the Pacific Ocean are evolving this spring away from the current "neutral" temperature pattern toward a new warm phase, also known as El Nino. And for us, El Ninos mean an increased likelihood of large snowfalls in the following winter.
For the last two winters we have been in a "La Nina," or the cool phase of what is known formally as the El Nino Southern Oscillation, or ENSO. And we have experienced unusually mild and dry winters, with little snowfall. But a study of winter storms from 1950 to 1998 found that El Nino conditions in the Pacific correlate with a greater frequency of snowstorms of 8 inches or more in Baltimore.
Here's what Sterling forecasters have written on the topic:
"Of the 9 El Niño winters, there were 5 winters with significant snowstorms (8+ inches) and 4 winters without. That is an increased risk to near 1 in 2 chance of a significant snow event.
"El Niño winters tend to be all or nothing. Either you get hardly any snow, as in the case of the last few El Niño events, or you get 150% above normal snowfall with one or in many cases, two or three significant storms."
So, all you snow lovers out there can now have some scientific reason for hope.
(SUN PHOTO/Frank Roylance/WeatherDeck station)