The longer the weather forecast, the more unpredictable it becomes.
There are trends and patterns that can provide some insight into future weather predictions, but there are also other trends and patterns which can lead forecasters in a completely different direction.
And even the most highly qualified meteorologists will tell you that nothing is guaranteed due to the earth’s complex weather system - which is always changing.
“Long range forecasting is infamous for not doing very well,” said Fairbanks Museum and Planetarium Senior Meteorologist Mark Breen. “We don’t officially make any long-range forecasts at the museum.”
There are factors around the globe that meteorologists monitor including ocean temperatures which could translate into a mild winter or a cold winter. But locally, in the Northeast Kingdom, there are other factors that have a chance of predicting the weather.
“Usually, if we get early snow and cold in October, that tends to lead toward a mild winter,” said Breen. “We’ve had cool. I certainly wouldn’t categorize it as cold and we haven’t had any early snowfall or anything like that.”
And then there are the storms happening around the world which can also factor into NEK weather.
“If there are a lot of late season storms in the western Pacific, it often leads to a cold start to the winter - it may warm up - but a cold start,” said Breen. “I’ve seen hints of that, and again, there’s not always a nice clear-cut - ‘this is exactly how it’s going to play out’ - type of thing.”
And the long-term winter weather trends are completely unpredictable.
“It simply just goes back and forth,” said Breen. “It’s very chaotic. You don’t have five years of cold winters or five years of warm winters one after another. They usually go back and forth.”
But Breen did say, after gathering data from many different sources this year, he’s thinking that there may be snow arriving in the Northeast Kingdom as early as mid-November.
“An early start to the winter would not surprise me,” said Breen. “The odds slightly favor that.”