Free-Range Weather

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Battle of the Winter Forecasts

Accuweather Winter Forecast

Accuweather Winter Forecast

Not to be outdone by Accuweather, The Weather Channel peered deeply into their crystal ball and published their winter 2013-14 forecast. They’re radically different, except for the Northeast.

Whom to believe? Who knows? Without an El Nino or La Nina to guide them (“neutral” conditions are expected, which means that an easy El Nino winter forecast like drier and warmer in the Northwest and rainier in the Southwest, is not available), long-range forecasters have to work a little harder to nail down their predictions. (How do forecasters create their long-term forecasts? That’s a topic for another day.)

Let’s break the forecast down by region:
Northeast – Accuweather says mild early with winter arriving way behind schedule (or – in like a lamb, out like a lion). TWC says pretty much the same thing.
Southeast – TWC forecasts cold early on, then moderating temps. Accuweather says the opposite and adds in risk of severe thunderstorms in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.
Midwest – Accuweather forecasts “cold shots” with above normal snows for the upper Great Lakes. TWC basically punts and says “variable.”
Southwest/West – TWC says the ”¬†strongest signal for a warmer-than-average winter is from the the Desert Southwest into the south-central states” with the West Coast and Northwest getting the variable tag, while Accuweather states that the Southwest will have “wet episodes” and the Northwest will be wet and snowy, depending on how far inland you are.

To hyper-localize things, TWC says that my little town of Sisters, Oregon, will have a normal winter and Accuweather says it will be snowy. Here’s hoping TWC is right.

What do you think of the forecasts for your area?


Can Lasers Change the Weather?

cloudsLet’s see, we know that cow flatulence is a potent (ahem) greenhouse gas and that some unlucky scientists in the UK have been tasked with measuring the unfortunate gas. Billions of tiny termites can also pump out an amazing amount of methane, making the little insects potential weather changers as well.

Homo sapiens have been pumping out greenhouse gases since the Industrial Revolution in the mid-1800s. Scientists are constantly looking for ways to ameliorate our climate-changing ways by blocking the amount of sunlight that hits the Earth, and they may have found a new way to do it. reports that European researchers have created artificial cirrus clouds using high-energy lasers. It’s not a practical solution for limiting the amount of solar radiation we receive – yet, but it might be in a few years. Cool beans.