Winter Season Forecast: What an El Niño Year Means for us in the County

Chief Meteorologist Rob Koenig has a preview of the upcoming winter season in Part 1 of his Winter Season Forecast.
Published: Nov. 20, 2023 at 4:25 PM EST
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PRESQUE ISLE, Maine (WAGM) - After a wet summer across the state, we are looking at some pattern changes for the upcoming winter season. The first graphic I showed in the winter season forecast is the Oceanic Niño Index. This index is based off of temperatures in a part of the Pacific Ocean just to the west of South America. The heating and cooling above average in this part of the ocean turns out to be a bigger driving factor in our weather here in the northern hemisphere. While the past few years we’ve seen La Niña conditions, they’ve been fairly week, with no strong signs of La Niña over the past couple of years. This year, we’ve already seen moderate signs of El Niño conditions setting up, with much of the upcoming season still left to determine what the driving factor could be.

Oceanic Niño Index
Oceanic Niño Index(WAGM-TV)

With El Niño conditions expected at this point, and the National Weather Service giving us the higher chance of seeing above average temperatures, I’ve gone slightly warmer with my average temperature predictions for the upcoming winter season. My main reasoning for this is my forecast from last year and how that panned out. Last year’s winter season forecast did well at the beginning and end of the season, but struggled through the middle of the winter season after seeing above average temperatures. With that information, and looking at previous El Niño years, I’ve gone even warmer with my temperature predictions, especially in the mid winter months.

Month:2022-2023 Winter Season Forecast Temperatures2022-2023 Winter Season Actual TemperaturesDifference:2023-2024 Winter Season Forecast Temperatures2023-2024 Winter Season Actual Temperatures

Looking at this data based off of heating degree days does a better job of painting the picture in terms of heating for the winter. Heating degree days are calculated using a simple formula, with the average temperature for a given day subtracted from 65 degrees. The more degree days you have, the more you’ll have to heat your home. Looking at last year, with temperatures ending up above the forecasted average, its no surprise that heating degree days are the same way. This season I’ve aligned the heating degree day values closer to last year’s actual values, since we’re looking at a better chance of a milder winter season compared to what computer models were showing for the winter season this time last year.

Month:2022-2023 Winter Season Forecast Heating Degree Days2022-2023 Winter Season Actual Heating Degree DaysDifference:2023-2024 Winter Season Forecast Heating Degree Days2023-2024 Winter Season Actual Heating Degree Days
Last Year's Heating Degree Day Forecast & Actual
Last Year's Heating Degree Day Forecast & Actual(WAGM-TV)
This Year's Heating Degree Day Forecast
This Year's Heating Degree Day Forecast(WAGM-TV)

Precipitation chances for the upcoming winter season appears to bring equal chances of both below or above average precipitation. The early winter months are hard to see any significant changes in overall precipitation. It’s not until the later winter months of February, March, and April that we have a better chance of seeing fluctuation in precipitation, impacting the winter season overall. We still have a couple of months that will ultimately determine what impacts and patterns we see setup during the winter season, so make sure to stay tuned to NewsSource 8 for updates through the winter season.

Seasonal Precipitation Outlook
Seasonal Precipitation Outlook(WAGM-TV)