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Do weather forecasters really know what is coming this winter?

The NOAA is playing a cruel game of "She loves me, she loves me not"

catskiing noaa 2017 forecast

Is predicting the weather science, art or a dangerous game of darts?

Every year we are bombarded with rhetoric from the trusted weather predictors about what kind of snow season will be bestowed upon us powder junkies. We all just got over the emotional rollercoster of ol' Punxsatawney Phil and his prediction on the whether early Spring cometh or if we will be plunged back into a pow filled winter for another six weeks.

2016 17 farmers almanac

*Actual farmer

Now it is the NOAA (The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) we are entrusting with the prediction of the winter to be. With a name like that, they sound like they should know what is happening. Back in the summer while we were re-hydrating with micro brew, the braintrusts at the NOAA opened up the magic box and told us it was going to be a banger La Nina follow up to the El Nino season we just had. We saw charts, read articles, heard from experts and generally bought into what they were selling.

I mean, look at this chart below. I'd believe that. It is sciencey looking.

LaNina Jet Wintertime Pattern

Then about six weeks later (friend's of Phil I think) they yanked the carpet out from under us and said, "PSYCH! La Nina isn't coming". And there we sat, wallowing in self pity. Like a pimply teenager whose been stood up for prom...again. No winter. Only rain. Warmth. Depression. Nothing.

But today is a new day! Skiers everywhere rejoice. The NOAA has come out from hiding and told us that the wicked temptress La Nina has a 70% chance of returning. They have re-calibrated there weather predicting machine and are back on to promoting a winter full of powder dreams. A 70% chance anyways. There is still that pesky 30% hanging out there like the guy you didn't invite to the party. We will call him the 30% scape goat if things don't go as planned.

NOAA predicts la nina 2017

The west coast is getting hammered with a fierce weather system as I type this. The alpine passes are piling up with snow. Resort webcams are being loaded with hits with the powder afflicted checking all day while they should be at work or school. Ski sales have spiked. Tire shops are over run with tire change overs. Ski movies are being watch and people are generally stoked. This news is a welcome message to get us through this purgatory we call Fall. 

We skiers are collectively praising the NOAA once again. Or are we? Or are these guys just full of it. Time will tell. I'm going to play darts.