La Nina Perspectives
Winter has Arrived in the Tetons
It was quite the winter weekend in Jackson Hole. A pacific storm system dropped nearly 26 inches of fresh snowfall and the forecast calls for continued accumulation throughout the week. As the opening day for Grand Targhee and Jackson Hole approach, we take a moment to reflect upon the long term forecast for the 2011/2012 winter season.
In a recent publication by the National Weather Service in Wyoming, meteorologist assessed the effect of La Nina on our state. Their conclusion: not all winters and not all La Ninas are created equal. This year’s La Nina is currently forecast to be a weak to moderate La Nina, as opposed to last year’s strong event. However, the potential is there for this winter to be similar to last winter.
“The evolving La Nina will shape this winter,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “There is a wild card, though. The erratic Arctic Oscillation can generate strong shifts in the climate patterns that could overwhelm or amplify La Nina’s typical impacts.” – NOAA
Current Snow Accumulations – 11/21/11
La Nina in a nutshell
During cold La Nina episodes the normal patterns of tropical precipitation and atmospheric circulation become disrupted. The abnormally cold waters in the equatorial central give rise greater atmospheric disturbances, particularly in the North Pacific. La Nina episodes are associated with three prominent changes in the wintertime atmospheric flows:
- Increased meridional (north to south) flow over the eastern North Pacific.
- Increased high pressure blocking activity over the North Pacific.
- Highly variable strength of the jet stream over the northwest and Canada.
In response to the more variable atmospheric circulation caused by the changing surface temperatures of the ocean, there tends to be increased rainfall and storminess associated with this weather cycle. A good thing for skiers and snowboarders intently watching the sky in anticipation of snowfall. – words and research by NOAA
Advancements in Weather Reporting for the Teton Region
Improvements and technological advancements continue to drive forward innovation in weather prediction. Regional agencies continue to make real time maps and other information easier to access.
Obtaining the data required to make responsible decisions is critical to safety in the mountains. Fortunately, the Teton Region is home to some of the best weather resources in the Rocky Mountains. Listed below are the three regional agencies advancing the use of meteorology in Jackson Hole.
Jackson Hole Weather Resources
The avalanche center provides a daily report summarizing weather conditions and their impact on avalanche activity in the region. They also maintain a variety of tools the public can use to stay up to date on current weather conditions. Commonly used data on their site includes:
The avalanche center plans to use new social media platforms to help raise awareness of hazardous snow pack conditions in the mountains.
MountainWeather is a meteorological consulting company located in Jackson, Wyoming and is owned and operated by meteorologist Jim Woodmencey. The MountainWeather Forecast for Jackson Hole and the Teton Mountains is produced each weekday morning.
Additional services offered by Mountain Weather include:
NOAA Riverton provides winter weather advisories for our region of the state. Their website offers links to reports, maps, current conditions, radar observations and more.
The Riverton station recently joined Facebook, offering new ways to stay connected to their forecast. Other services they feature include:
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