Winter Forecasting from WETLAB – Western Environmental Testing Laboratory
This time of year, many skiers, snowboarders and other snow-lovers in Northern Nevada and elsewhere start to wonder what kind of winter is coming.
But the winter’s snowfall affects more than just the ski slopes – it’s what supplies water to much of Nevada, California and the rest of the west. Here in the Reno area, the forecasts that get the most attention is what will happen up the hill in the Lake Tahoe Region.
There are a variety of long-term forecasts to choose from, and all have varying levels of success.
Accuweather.com first predicted big snowfall in the Sierra, but in their October 14 forecast, they’ve backed off, not predicting above or below average snowfall for the region.
“Rain and (mountain) snow in California this coming season, I believe, will be near normal for the most part. A little bit more in the southern half than the northern half is expected,” said AcccuWeather Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok.
The long-standing Farmer’s Almanac calls for milder than normal temperatures than normal, with average precipitation.
Early indications showed the possibility of El Nino conditions, created by warmer temperatures in the Pacific that historically have meant more precipitation in the Southwest and less in the Northwest, but according to a local forecaster at tahoeweatherdiscussion.com, El Nino conditions continue to weaken.
It’s tough to tell what El Nino, or its opposite, La Nina, mean for the Reno-Tahoe area, as last year’s below average snowfall came with a weak La Nina, and the huge snowfall of the winter before came with a stronger La Nina.
On 14 of the last 60 winters have been neutral – neither La Nina or El Nino – making predictions even more difficult, according to tahoeweatherdiscussion.com.
So the bottom line? There don’t seem to be any strong predictors yet. We’ll have to wait and see what the winter brings, and hope for the best to replenish our water supplies.