Siberian snow cover growth is underway and this has become the new heavily watched indicator and one that JOESTRADAMUS watches with keen interest. For those of you unfamiliar with this indicator there seems to be a link between the rate of snow cover growth (not the actual snow cover) and the severity of winters (or the lack thereof ) in the Eastern United States. Now as with any indicator, it isn’t perfect. I believe that from a long range forecasting perspective the best perspective is to look at a range of indicators rather than focus on one specific indicator. Given that we have a fairly strong el nino underway plus a number of other longer range weather phenomena underway, we will watch this with interest. In the end we won’t know until the winter is over whether it worked or not.
What we focus on specifically is the rate of growth south of 60 degrees north. North of 60 degrees north is not considered in this. The map above is the GFS model forecast of total snowfall forecast for the next 10 days and it is quite substantial. How much of this becomes permanent snow cover remains to be seen but you have to have snowstorms in order to develop snow cover. The map below shows the snow cover on the ground right now.
Looking at the current map you can see the snow cover, what there is of it, is mainly north of 60N so the the GFS model is forecasting a very large expansion of this over the next 10 days. The other important factor to consider is the area of ice shaded in yellow. The lack of ice cover means we have open ocean and a large moisture source to tap until the Arctic Ocean freezes over. Note that the ice after reaching near record lows is growing at a rapid rate so how fast that freezes over is very important. We really won’t have a good sense of this for another 10 days. In the meantime we watch and wait to see what happens. For more snow cover maps see the National Weather Service website.
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