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Patty Craig: A Slice of Time

Winter is not my favorite time. During this season, I watch the weather more than in any other. I have a need to know just how uncomfortable I’m likely to be on any given day.

In the fall, I read long-range predictions for winter weather. Although, meteorologists can only make an educated guess, their long-range predictions are fun: I like to see what they get right. Below, you’ll find my understanding of some long-range winter weather predictions.

The NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) early forecast for the 2011-2012 winter was based on the return of La Nina (A La Nina is a cooling of sea-surface temperatures in the tropical region of the Pacific Ocean, and it influences global weather patterns.). Last year, we had a La Nina; but, this winter’s La Nina is not expected to be quite as intense as that one. The early-season forecast predicted the likelihood of a continuation of the dry weather pattern in the Southwest and southern Plains.

The Farmers' Almanac warned of a wet 2012 winter. Highlights of the forecast included the following:
• Very stormy and wet conditions in the mid-Atlantic region and in southern New England
• Very snowy conditions in the Midwest, northern New England, and upstate New York
• Very wet conditions in the southern Plains and Southeast
• Very cold in the northern Plains
• Dry in the Southwest

The Weather Centre forecast included information about the projected position of the La Nina, the North Atlantic Oscillation, and past winter seasons with similar climatological factors. Highlights of this forecast included:
• Colder-than-normal conditions across much of the northern part of the country, including bitterly cold conditions in the northern Plains.
• Above-average snowfall in mid-Atlantic region, Northeast, Midwest, and eastern Plains
• A continuation of the drought in much of the southern U.S.
• More precipitation than normal along the West Coast predicted that Kentucky and Tennessee will have slightly above-average precipitation and slightly below-average temperature. The early forecast indicated that temperatures will not be extremely cold for the country and predicted Kentucky having near-normal snowfall.

My grandparents used to say that the number of fogs we had in August would be the number of snowfalls we would have during the winter. (That’s about my level of scientific inquiry.) Every year, I start to count the number of fogs. But then, I’ll sleep late or something else will happen, and I’ll quit counting. I’ve heard others say that almost every August morning in Kentucky has a little fog. My grandparents never took the fog count too seriously, and as you can see, I don’t either.

Someone jokingly said, “Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.” And, Ecclesiastes 8:7 (NIV) says, “Since no man knows the future, who can tell him what is to come?” So, like much in life, I’ll just wait to see what winter brings us.

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