Greetings and welcome!
It is the week after Labor Day and that means that Hay Days is this weekend over in Minnesota. Easily one of the biggest shows in snowmobiling, it is also the unofficial kickoff to the season.
I have never been there myself. I have always wanted to go but either didn’t have the time, the money, or both. Around here this weekend is also the kickoff of firewood and fall/winter prep season, and I did my first couple of carts full of firewood today.
What are we in for this winter?
I am getting some really mixed signals.
The fall colors in my travels actually started in late July on a couple of trees and some ground vegetation. I wrote it off as drought stress. As August progressed I was seeing more and more of it. I kept thinking to myself that this may be a heads up from Ma Nature to get going on winter preparations early this year.
I like to look at the paper wasp nest height for guidance. That isn’t much help this year, I don’t have any to observe. I am not sure what happened there, but there are none in the usual spots.
On the professional side there is not good news. According to the NOAA ENSO Update (PDF) dated three days ago we are ENSO (ElNino Southern Oscillation) neutral now, but have a 60% chance of ElNino conditions in fall and a 70% chance of ElNino this winter.
Usually that is a less favorable weather pattern for us. Nothing is carved in stone, last year was a LaNina winter and it wasn’t great. We did get a whole bunch of snow in April after the ground had thawed and the trails were closed, but that timed out with the transition from LaNina conditions to neutral conditions.
Right now my (little bit of) optimism is grounded in the fact that the models are predicting a mild to moderate ElNino, and they have it getting milder as winter progresses..
Here is the bottom line.. There is nothing carved in stone. An ElNino winter doesn’t mean that it is guaranteed to be terrible, just like a LaNina winter is not guaranteed to be great. It is my observation that the transition between the two or a mild one of either direction can bring snow bounty, and too much of either one can bring hard times.
Right now this is all a forecast 4 months away from the actual event. In the end we won’t know until the pages on the calendar flip and we get there. One of my little truths of life is that the forecast is often worse than the weather. Personally I plan on being ready for a hairy winter.
Have a good fall season and thank you for visiting!