Knowing what to expect as the winter approaches gives your facility a better chance of continuing to operate as seamlessly as possible through challenging weather conditions. Fortunately, weather professionals love to make predictions, so there is no shortage of opinions as to how the 2015-2016 season is shaping up. Here are what various experts have been saying so far:
How Cold Will it Get?
February of 2015 was one of the coldest months on record in many states in the Midwest and the Northeast. Many people are asking whether the upcoming season could possibly be as cold as last year. The Farmer’s Almanac has been a trusted source of information for long-range weather predictions since 1818. The Almanac’s editor, Peter Geiger, predicted that those in the Northeast may experience a repeat of last year, saying, “New Englanders will once again experience a very frigid (shivery) winter.”
The unseasonably cold weather is expected to reach as far south as Kentucky, with chilly and wet weather farther south and milder weather in the West. Boasting an uncanny ability to predict weather on specific days long in advance, the Almanac even makes a bold prediction that voters on Election Day 2016 will enjoy mild weather across the country.
These types of far-reaching predictions don’t have everyone convinced, however. The Farmer’s Almanac’s accuracy has been called into question by modern scientists due to the fact that it prides itself on using a mathematical and astronomical formula that remains top secret. Penn State meteorologist Paul Knight questions the Almanac’s lack of peer review and claims, “I don't know anyone short of the prophet Elijah who has any skill in foretelling precipitation more than a couple weeks, perhaps a month in advance.”
Nevertheless, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Weather Service does provide some data that could be useful to facility managers. It predicts that for the most part, 2015-2016 temperatures in the majority of the country will be in the normal range, with unseasonably warmer weather in the Northwest, and slightly colder temperatures in the Texas area. These conditions are in line with what is expected in winters with a significant El Niño event.
What About Snow?
Last year, Boston broke the record for seasonal snowfall with 108.6 inches (2.75 m), and New Englanders and others in the northern regions are wondering what’s in store this year. The NOAA’s predictions are not as dire for the upcoming season. They indicate greater than average precipitation in the southern states and unusually drier conditions in the Great Lakes area and in the northern portions of the Mountain Time Zone.
A more specific regional breakdown can be found on Firsthand Weather, a popular blog that provides breaking news on weather conditions and makes detailed long-range forecasts. If these predictions are accurate, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, the Dakotas, and part of Montana will get a break this year, with above average temperatures and less snow than usual. Firsthand Weather takes a more pessimistic view than the National Weather Service, however, with regard to the Northeast and Southeast regions of the country. If the blog is correct, these areas can expect to be hit hard with snowy or rainy conditions.
No matter what this winter has in store for us, facility managers must take steps to ensure visitors to their facility are safe from the effects of inclement weather.