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Recent Weather Happenings in the Pacific
Last year, the United States experienced a La Niña event. Since then, the water in the Pacific Ocean has been warming up. These recent warmer ocean temperatures have led to warmer nights, muggier days, and less refreshing breezes. The El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) has three phases, each of which impacts the weather significantly. The warm phase is called El Nino. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website at noaa.gov, El Niño is “an ocean-atmosphere climate interaction linked to periodic warming in sea surface temperatures in the central and eastern equatorial Pacific” The cold phase is called La Niña, which is defined as cooling of water in the Pacific occurring at irregular intervals.
Knowing the ENSO Phase Is Helpful
From Oct. 2017 to May 2018, temperatures were below normal. From June 2018 to Oct. 2018, ocean temperatures have been above normal. To reach the El Nino phase, temperatures have to remain 0.5ºC above normal for several months, which means the current temperature needs to climb another 0.2ºC. There is a 65 to 70% chance that El Niño will develop this winter. Water temperature anomalies greater than .5ºC are expected for a three month average from
Aug. 2018 to June of 2019.
As shown in the map at far left, above average temperatures are expected for most of the United States. Most of the Great Lakes and Northern Rockies will probably experience above average temperatures frequently. The central and eastern United States will have neutral temperature anomalies and frequencies, meaning there won’t be much change from normal. Drought conditions will likely continue in California, the Southwest, Central Rockies, and Northern Plains. Conditions will improve from drought (to less dry) in Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado.
Just as with temperature, El Niño can affect and predict snowfall anomalies. As seen in the map to the right, the Northern Rockies and Great Lakes should experience below average snowfall. However, southern states, cities in the Mid-Atlantic and in the Northeast will experience above average snowfall.
In addition to temperature and snowfall, there are other drivers in the forecast of a smaller scale. NOAA forecasts that the southeastern states from Kentucky to Louisiana and down to Florida will experience little to no change from typical winter temperatures. Typical precipitation is predicted in most of the country except for the Northern Rockies and all southern states. We’ll have to wait and see which aspects of each of these forecasts will prove most accurate.
Cold Outbreaks That Will Develop
It’s important to note that while some cold outbreaks will occur in the central and eastern United States, they will last less than a week. Ice and snow are possible in late December to late January in the South. The East Coast may see heavy snow in February through March.
Generac makes it a mission to keep you up to date on current and upcoming weather patterns, as well as real-time storm updates. As any winter storms may develop, we will bring you daily updates so you can prepare and stay safe. Speaking of preparation, our website has several winter articles designed to educate you on winter weather and storms. Stay warm out there.