The National Weather Service winter forecast looks like Montanans may want to dig in and bundle up for another long, cold winter.
National Weather Service Meteorologist Ben Schott of Great Falls said that it looks like another La Niña weather pattern is setting in, with cooler temperatures in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean increasing the chance for cool, wet weather in the Pacific Northwest and the High Plains of the United States, including Montana.
“This winter, look for above-normal snowfall, below-normal temperatures, ” Schott said during a meeting of the Hill County Local Emergency Planning Committee.
“Well, that was positive wasn’t it, ” said Jim Donovan, who was chairing the meeting.
“(Schott has) been three for three the last three winters. so that’s depressing, ” Donovan added.
Schott said the winter may not get severe until about Chrismas-time or the first of the year, but there is a strong likelihood of high levels of snowfall and below-average temperatures.
“It doesn’t mean we won’t have any winter before then, but it doesn’t really start taking hold until about then, ” he said.
He added that the forecast is for a warmer- and drier-than-normal October, which may be good news for some, but not all.
“Depending on how dry your fields are already, (that) may not be a good thing, ” Schott said.
Weather experts last year said conditions around the world look like they are moving into a pattern to create colder, wetter winters in this region.
The scientists recorded numerous meteorological conditions around the world — including a shift in the temperatures of the northern Pacific, which had been in a 30-year cycle contributing to warmer, drier winters in Montana — leading to the forecast by many weather predictors ranging from U. S. government agencies to private-sector forecasters.
While the prediction cannot forecast when or where cold temperatures or precipitation can hit, it creates the expectations of the reversal of a 30-year cycle starting from about 1980 of warmer, drying winters in the Pacific Northwest and High Plains — and the likelihood of 30 years of colder, wetter winters.
Schott said the strengthening La Niña makes that very probable this year.
“Of course, every winter has its own little flavor, but typically when we’re dealing with a pretty strong La Niña, which looks like this is heading that way, things pretty much hold to form, ” he said.
Chances are it also will lead to a late spring and summer, he added.
“So maybe you might be able to take off for the park by July Fourth, ” Schott said.