Winter 2022/2023 snowfall predictions come together as the cold meteorological season is about to begin. From the United States to Canada and over Europe, we will look at the latest Full snowfall forecasts and trends, extending the view into early Spring.
We first have to take a quick look at the leading global weather driver for the upcoming winter season, La Nina. What does the latest ocean analysis data show, and what influence did it play on temperature and snowfall patterns in the past?
But the main focus is on global long-range weather forecasting systems. From that, you will see the snowfall predictions for the upcoming Winter and how they are changing as we get closer to Winter, with the forecast accuracy also increasing.
GLOBAL LONG-RANGE WEATHER CONNECTION
An important global weather factor is ENSO. This is a region of the equatorial Pacific Ocean that changes between warm and cold phases. Typically there is a phase change around every 1-3 years.
The cold phase is called La Nina, and the warm phase is called El Nino. We are currently in a La Nina phase, entering its third and final year, likely being replaced by a warm phase for 2023/2024.
ENSO phases significantly influence tropical rainfall, pressure patterns, and the complex exchange between the ocean and the atmosphere. The image below shows the circulation pattern of a cold phase and its ocean-atmosphere connection.
This way, the ENSO significantly impacts tropical rainfall and pressure patterns, strongly changing the atmosphere-ocean feedback system. The ENSO influence is spread globally through this feedback system, creating different Winter temperature and snowfall patterns.
Below we have the latest surface analysis of the tropical Pacific Ocean. Cold ocean anomalies extend across most of the tropical Pacific. This cold ocean phase is entering its final stage and will break down as we get into Spring.
La Nina usually forms during strong trade winds, which can tell us much about the state of global circulation. This way, we can use these anomalies as an “indicator” to better understand the current state of the global climate system and its seasonal development.
Below, you can see the progress of some historical multi-year La Nina episodes, with only two events previously having a 3rd-year event. Three events went neutral in the third year, and three phases shifted into an El Nino in the third season.
No cold event has gone into the 4th year in the known records, so it is expected that we will see the last La Nina phase this season for a while.
LA NINA WINTER FORECAST
Below we have an Official NOAA CPC probability forecast graphic, which shows the long-range forecast of the central ENSO region. As forecasted, the La Nina conditions will last over the Winter but will weaken. The La Nina is set to break down going into Spring, with a warm phase (El Nino) chances increasing for late 2023.
To better understand the ENSO changes, we produced a video showing the La Nina anomalies from Summer into Fall.
The video below shows the developing cold ocean anomalies in the equatorial Pacific as we head deeper into Fall, boosted by the strong easterly trade winds.
So what exactly does this mean for the winter weather patterns and snowfall potential? We will take a closer look at the weather influence that La Nina usually shows over North America, which is under a more direct influence.
Europe is not known to have any specific/direct influences, as it is too far from the source regions. But that does not mean it has no impact.
La Nina does change the weather globally, but apart from the direct influence over North America, places like Europe have many other factors in circulation before any La Nina influence can spread this far.
NORTH AMERICA WINTER WEATHER PATTERN
Typically, the first influence of these ocean anomalies can be seen in the jet stream patterns changing. The jet stream is a large and powerful stream of air (wind) at around 8-11km (5-7mi) altitude.
Historically, a strong blocking high-pressure system in the North Pacific is the most typical effect of a cold ENSO phase. That tends to redirect the polar jet stream down over the northern United States, with the cold air following.
The image below shows the average pressure pattern during the La Nina winters in the past 40 years. You can see a strong high-pressure system in the North Pacific and a low-pressure area over Canada and the northern United States. Images by NOAA Physical Science Laboratory.
The circulation of the strong high-pressure system promotes the development of a low-pressure region over Alaska and western Canada. It relocates the jet stream downwards between the two strong pressure systems, marked above by the blue lines.
Looking at the temperature analysis for the same winters, we can see a cold anomaly under the jet stream in western Canada and the northern United States. This is typically on the western and southern border of low-pressure systems, where the northerly and northwesterly flow pulls down cold air from the north.
Warmer than normal weather and mild winter conditions typically develop over the southwestern United States, eastern United States, and eastern Canada. The most dynamic winter weather is usually found between the warm and cold anomalies in the Midwest and the central United States.
Precipitation-wise, La Nina winters are usually drier over the southern United States. Drier conditions also develop in the southeastern United States as La Nina produces a weaker subtropical jet stream and less moisture over the southern United States. More precipitation is typical over the northwestern United States, the Great Lakes, and parts of the northeast.
You can see that jet stream redirection in the image below. The image shows the average jet stream position in La Nina winters and the resulting weather patterns developing over the United States and Canada in a cold-ENSO dominant Winter.
The displaced jet stream brings colder temperatures and winter storms from the polar regions down into the northern and northwestern United States. Warmer and drier winter weather prevails over the southern states.
But what does that mean for snowfall potential? The data shows that the La Nina jet stream pattern also changes the snowfall patterns over North America as the pressure systems take a different path, along with the cold air.
The colder air is more easily accessible to the northern United States, which increases the snowfall potential if enough moisture is available. In the graphic below by NOAA-Climate, you can see the average snowfall pattern for weak La Nina years, as expected for this Winter season.
Besides the northwestern United States and the Midwest, we can see more snowfall potential over the northeastern United States and eastern Canada.
But now, we will look at actual Winter snowfall predictions from the latest forecast models. Since the latest forecast data was released in mid-late November, we now also have the March data included, so we can look at some early Spring snowfall potential.
The format of this forecast is simple. We will look at two highly regarded seasonal weather forecasting systems. First is the ECMWF, and then it is the UKMO. The data used to produce these graphics is the latest available at the present time, from mid-November.
You will see the average snowfall forecast for the meteorological Winter season, covering the December-January-February period. We will do a monthly breakdown, as there are a lot of details in the monthly forecast that the whole seasonal average does not show.
ECMWF WINTER 2022/2023 SNOWFALL LATEST FORECAST
As always, we start with the ECMWF, the most often used and highly regarded seasonal forecasting system. ECMWF data provided is provided by the Copernicus-EU open project.
Starting with the seasonal average, we see below-average snowfall over most of Europe, which is indicative of a high-pressure dominant pattern. This does not mean there will be no snow, but it indicates less snowfall than normal.
The December snow depth forecast shows widespread negative anomalies. The pattern seems to be under the influence of a high-pressure system, as the forecast does not permit a lot of large-scale snowfall scenarios and snow accumulation.
In the January forecast, there is no real improvement. Most of Europe is forecast to have less snow depth by mid-winter. A larger deficit can be seen over northern Europe and the Alps.
The February snow depth forecast shows the snowfall potential reducing further over most of Europe. This model has been quite consistent with low snow accumulation since the early September runs.
The next image below shows the change in the snow depth forecast between the latest model data and the previous model run. We can see that the latest ECMWF forecast shows less snowfall over most of the continent compared to last month’s forecast for the entire Winter season.
Also, we have the March snowfall forecast data. Of course, March can still be cold and usually provides snowfall. But looking at the March snow forecast image below, we can see most of Europe having a lower-than-normal end to the snow season.
NORTH AMERICA ECMWF SNOWFALL FORECAST
Over North America, most of the country has below-average snow accumulation, except for the northwestern United States, upper Midwest, and southwestern Canada. The rest of the United States shows less snowfall than normal, but that does not mean no snow at all.
The December snow depth forecast shows less snow cover over most of the United States and Canada. One exception is southwestern Canada and higher elevations in the western/northwestern United States. But note more snowfall potential remains over the u pper Midwest.
The January snow depth forecast shows a similar pattern of more snowfall from western Canada into the northwestern United States. We see an increased snow potential over the upper Midwest, with some other areas across the Midwest having normal snowfall amounts forecast this month (0/white areas).
The February snow depth forecast shows continued increased snowfall potential over the northwestern United States and expanding over western and southern Canada. More snowfall is still forecast in the upper Midwest, with some hints of more snowfall around the central Great Lakes.
Below is an image that compares the latest forecast to the previous one. You can see that more snowfall is being forecast across much of the western United States compared to the previous forecast. This is a reflection of the pressure changes in the latest model forecast. More snowfall can be seen in parts of the Midwest and the northeastern United States.
And we also have the March snow forecast data available for North America. Again, you can see more snowfall than normal, covering a large area from western Canada down into the northwestern United States and the far upper Midwest. The rest of the United States and eastern Canada are expected to see less snowfall in the early spring.
UKMO WINTER 2022/2023 SNOWFALL LATEST FORECAST
Long-range weather forecasting is not easy, and there are a lot of factors that impact seasonal climate. We always focus on trends and probabilities, but still, variation is key. The more forecast data you can look at, the better idea you can get about the expected weather patterns.
As you can never trust a single forecast model, we always tend to use the UKMO long-range forecasting system along the ECMWF. It was developed by the United Kingdom Met Office, which is where the initials UKMO come from.
Starting with the seasonal average for Europe, we can see another weak snowfall forecast similar to the ECMWF. Most of the continent is forecast to have less snowfall than normal, except for far northern Europe. UKMO uses a different parameter than the ECMWF but correlates directly with snowfall also.
The December snowfall forecast shows some areas with more snowfall over northern, western, and central parts. Overall we still see less snowfall than normal for the first Winter month.
The January snowfall forecast shows more potential in northern and western Europe. Overall, the UKMO is much more dynamic than the ECMWF and leaves more possibilities open regarding pattern development.
The February snowfall forecast indicates continued potential over the northern parts of Europe. But otherwise, the rest of the continent shows less snowfall than normal for this month. Given the distribution of snowfall anomalies, it shows a likely low-pressure zone over northwestern Europe.
Looking at the overall average forecast and comparing it to the previous forecast, we can see that the latest run has less snowfall over most of Europe, except towards the east and south. We can also see more snowfall hinted in this run over southern Great Britain.
NORTH AMERICA UKMO SNOWFALL PREDICTIONS
The average seasonal forecast for the United States and Canada shows a typical La Nina snowfall pattern. We see more snowfall over the northwestern and northern United States and southern Canada. This is not too far from the ECMWF prediction, but we generally see more snowfall in the northern United States.
The December snowfall forecast shows the snowfall increase over the northwestern United States. More snowfall is also seen over parts of the upper Midwest. The rest of the United States is forecast to receive less snowfall than normal this month, with the expectation of the far northeastern United States and parts of the southeast.
January snowfall forecast shows a similar pattern, with more snowfall over much of southern Canada and the northern half of the United States. This looks close to a usual historical snowfall pattern in a La Nina winter. There are also some hints of a cold event reaching down to the south-central United States.
Less snowfall is forecast in the eastern half of the United States for the month of January.
The February snowfall forecast shows snowfall potential remaining over the northern parts of the United States. This is mainly a result of warmer-than-normal temperatures expected in late Winter by UKMO in the south/southwest. But we can still see an area of more snowfall potential in the Southeast, which can be a single large event.
The southeastern United States snowfall is perhaps an unlikely scenario at first, but just one intense cold outbreak could bring some snowfall further far into the south.
We have also produced an image that shows the snowfall forecast change compared to the forecast from the previous month. This latest forecast cycle interestingly shows more snowfall over the western United States and also the Midwest. It has reduced the snow potential over the eastern United States.
Ending with the March forecast, we can see a decent snow season continuing over most of the northern half of the United States. You can see a strong snowfall anomaly over the Midwest and the Great Lakes, expanding over the northeastern United States.
More early Spring snowfall is also expected over the northwestern United States and the southern half of Canada while the La Nina influence slowly lets go.
Overall, the UKMO shows a decent snow season across the northern United States. It also shows some snow scenarios over the eastern and southeastern United States.
NOAA OFFICIAL WINTER 2022/2023 FORECAST
We can also track snowfall potential on normal temperature and precipitation Winter forecasts. The highest snowfall potential is usually in regions with colder temperatures and more precipitation.
This is can be seen in the NOAA’s latest official Winter 2022/2023 temperature forecast for the United States. It shows colder temperature probabilities for most of the northern United States. The southern half of the country has a higher probability of warmer than normal weather.
But take note of the trough of “equal” temperatures probability extending down low into the south-central states. That can be interpreted as a potential route of winter cold air outbreaks down from the Midwest to the south, creating occasional snow events.
The official NOAA Temperature outlook points:
- Warmer-than-average temperatures are favored in the Southwestern United States, across the Southeastern states, and along the Atlantic coast.
- Below-normal temperatures are favored from the Pacific Northwest eastward to the western Great Lakes.
The official precipitation forecast is also quite similar to the latest model forecasts. We see an equal-to-higher probability for more precipitation (and snowfall) over the northwest, extending into the Great Lakes and the eastern United States. The southern United States is forecast to have a drier-than-normal winter season.
NOAA Official precipitation outlook points:
- Wetter-than-average conditions are most likely in the Pacific Northwest, the northern Rockies, Great Lakes, and Ohio Valley.
- The greatest chances for drier-than-average conditions are forecast in portions of California, the Southwest, the southern Rockies, the southern Plains, the Gulf Coast, and much of the Southeast.
Also, we will keep you updated on other developing weather trends, so bookmark our page. Also, if you have seen this article in the Google App (Discover) feed, click the like button (♥) there to see more of our forecasts and our latest articles on weather and nature in general.
Don’t miss the full Winter forecast with pressure and temperature patterns: