By Jesse Wood
Oct. 17, 2014. Even as accurate as RaysWeather.com usually is with its annual “Winter Fearless Forecast,” Ray Russell isn’t much of a fan of producing the report. But because it’s popular, the readers enjoy it and the success rate is better than most other forecasts, he continues to attempt to slay the beast that is a close-to-accurate, long-range forecast.
The “cliff notes” of the eight-page report, which Russell called the “most bullish forecast we’ll ever make” are as follows:
- 20 percent more snow than the 55-year average
- Temperatures averaging 0 to 1 degrees below long-term average.
“While some signals point to a snowy winter, good long-term forecasters rarely stray far from long-term averages. Every fall someone says, ‘This will be the worst winter ever’; unfortunately for them, they will be right only once in a lifetime,” Russell wrote.
To produce this report, Russell analyzes El Nino Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which Russell’s “take away” from this analysis is an expected snowier than average winter in the Southern Appalachians.
He also analyzes the average snow trends in Boone, which he states is representative of the Southern Appalachians. With an attached chart of yearly snowfall from the late ’60s to last year, Russell notes that annual snowfall decreased notably from 1985 to 2008 – yet has increased significantly in the past five years.
“However, it should be noted that only two of the last 10 years (and six of the past 25 years) have had more than the 55-year average,” Russell wrote. “
His takeaway: Curb your enthusiasm after reading the ENSO analysis if you want some big snow.
Russell also examines arctic ice and a few other “wildcard” factors that you can peruse in the entire report: http://raysweather.com/public/FearlessForecast.pdf. But don’t click on it just for the science behind the forecast, Russell also injects his usual wit that readers of RaysWeather.com have come accustomed to.
And as for why Russell doesn’t enjoy these winter forecasts in October:
– “Many published winter forecasts are just random shots in the dark. Trying to inject ‘reason’ into an already unreasonable frenzy is usually futile. How can anyone compete with fog, woolly worms, persimmons, acorns, hornets, squirrels, groundhogs, and a nameless almanac writer?”
– “Even the best-researched long-range forecasts are low-confidence endeavors.”