As some parts of the Northeast experience their first frost/freeze of the season, this is a good time to make some cold weather preparations.
NOAA’s recently issued U.S. Winter Outlook said the development of La Niña, the climate phenomenon and counterpart of El Niño, is expected to influence winter conditions this year.
La Niña favors drier, warmer winters in the southern U.S. and wetter, cooler conditions in the northern U.S. but because forecasters expect it to be weak and short-lived, we probably shouldn’t bet against snow.
Other factors that often play a role in the winter weather include the Arctic Oscillation, which influences the number of arctic air masses that penetrate into the South and create nor’easters on the East Coast, and the Madden-Julian Oscillation, which can affect the number of heavy rain events in the Pacific Northwest.
NOAA explains that its seasonal outlook does not project where and when snowstorms may hit or provide total seasonal snowfall accumulations.
“Snow forecasts are dependent upon the strength and track of winter storms, which are generally not predictable more than a week in advance. However, La Niña winters tend to favor above average snowfall around the Great Lakes and in the northern Rockies and below average snowfall in the mid-Atlantic.”
Whatever the outlook (and some forecasters have a different take on how this winter may turn out), it pays to be prepared. As Mike Halpert, deputy director, NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, says:
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has resources on how to protect homes and businesses from winter weather damage here.
Winter storms are historically very expensive for insurers, and the third-largest cause of catastrophe losses, behind hurricanes and tornadoes, the Insurance Information Institute reports.
Winter storms caused an estimated $3.5 billion in insured losses in 2015, up from $2.6 billion in 2014, according to Munich Re.