For those of us in the Snow & Ice Management industry it is a question we receive with alarming regularity. How could we not know? Afterall, we are supposed to be trusted experts. Coming up with an answer is easy. Coming up with the correct answer is an entirely different ballgame altogether!
The true experts, experienced meteorologists who toil at The Weather Network or Environment Canada put a great deal of effort into providing long range seasonal predictions based on years of statistical analysis, satellite technology, computer algorithms, and, if I’m not mistaken, just a little bit of guesswork. They’ll toss around terms like polar vortex, La Nina or temperature inversion to solidify their standing in the world of weather prediction. They’ll huff and puff with the force of an Alberta Clipper, but at the end of it all, they turn out to be wrong just as much or more often than they are right. Mother Nature, just like the Casino, always seems to win in the end, surprising them all. I’d be more than happy if they got their 5-day forecasts correct on a regular basis to be honest, let alone long-term!
So, what are they predicting for us this winter? The general consensus seems to be for a colder than normal winter, with above-normal precipitation and snowfall. The snowiest periods will be in late November, early & late December (not mid-December apparently), and mid-January.
What about the Farmer’s Almanac though? Their mix of intuitive divination using natural clues in the behavior of plants and animals, mixed with a pinch of sorcery, leads to great success (according to them at least) in accurately predicting seasonal weather. The problem is, which version of Almanac? The one I have used in the past seems to agree for the most part with the meteorologists; they claim with a high degree of “certainty” that it will be a very cold, snow-filled winter, although mid-December will be one of the snowiest periods. Looks like December will be a whopper!
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So, it seems the forces of prognostication are speaking with one voice this year, and yet I still have my doubts. Call it intuition, or experience, or even madness, but I just don’t believe that after being so wrong so often, they have suddenly got their act together. Although a broken clock can still be right twice a day, I just don’t have faith in their predictions, for I have learned to follow a more philosophical approach in recent years.
What do I think will happen this winter? I will refer to Act V, Scene 1 of William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, and let Brutus speak for me:
“O, that a man might know the end of this day’s business ere it come! But it sufficeth that the day will end, and then the end is known.”
Wise man, that Brutus. I guess we’ll find out in the spring!