Winter Predictions: Place Your Bets; The Exercise Imperative

Squint hard and you can see a dusting of August snow at Arapahoe Basin. First of the 2019-20 season. Credit: Arapahoe Basin

The cusp of summer’s end is upon us. We’re not quite there, but back to school, shortening days, last concerts in the park, tennis tournaments, and thinking about hauling the boat after a couple of more weekends away, are all pointing to a winding down of summer. After Labor Day, the whole gestalt changes, and we are basically all back at work or fall regimen, regardless that there are three more weeks of actual summer to go before the Autumnal Equinox.

It is time, therefore, for predictions of what kind of winter lies ahead to emerge from official sources as well as unofficial observers of winters past. who stir their secret formulas and produce a forecast. If, however, you believe in regression to the mean—a statistical phenomenon that says there is high probability an extreme instance will be followed by a more moderate instance—then after last season’s snowgazilla, we should be predicting a meh to moderate season ahead. Let’s see.

But first, let’s look back at what the experts said the 2018-19 would be and see if they came close and what they see as the cause that produced the effect.

Our friends at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center forecast a warmer-than-average winter just about everywhere except the East Coast and the South East. The reality was just the opposite, temperature-wise. It was colder everywhere, except the South East where it was warmer. According to the CPC’s own internal indexing scoreboard, this was the biggest prediction miss in over six years.

On the precipitation side, CPC forecasters said it would be wetter-than-average across the southern swath of the country and drier-than-average more northward. The reality was it was in fact wetter across a broader band in the country, so points for getting the wet right.

The big surprise was February’s temperatures. That’s when, if you recall, the bottom dropped out of the thermometer in the West and maintained normal in the East. It was a bifurcated temperature system; cold as the frozen hinges of the Martian Outback in the West combined with precipitation, and you get the monumental snowfalls we saw. That’s what threw off the CPC predictions, and what brought a record year to many ski resorts.

Why the February freeze? It was a random anomaly in the atmospheric pattern over western Alaska that brought down cold area and planted it. The key word here is “anomaly”; it was unexpected, hence, an aberration, an unexpected fillip, a black swan, a…surprise. And we got an unbelievable season for the record books.

So, can an anomaly repeat? Remember regression the mean, everyone.

Here’s the Farmer’s Almanac vision of 2019-20.

Normal-ish in the West, cold, snowy in the Midwest, a “Polar Coaster” as the venerable publication calls it, in the East. Wintry Mix=miserable.

Now the Old Farmer’s Almanac, a different and still venerable publication, calls it like this:

And from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, looking ahead to January-February-March 2020. [Two maps, one for temperature, the other precip.]

We’ll leave it to you to compare and contrast. One thing is certain, these predictions do not reflect the snow-a-rama we had last year. But neither did last year’s predictions. So, place your bets.

Meanwhile, it snowed 30 inches in Pink Mountain, British Columbia. So it begins.

Pink Mountain’s August 19th dump.

The Exercise Imperative

All readers of report they are active in summer, non-snow activities, from hiking and tennis, to golf and fishing. With the season coming into view on the horizon, it would be wise for all hands to start thinking about toning up with whole body exercises.

Why? Biking strengthens quads and back, not so much arms and hamstrings. Kayaking goes for arms and abs, not so much legs. Pick your sport, the chances are some muscle groups are over-used, some under.

Hence, the pre-season workout. We are reprising a series of progressive exercises demonstrated by Physical Therapist and Exercise Guru, Rick Silverman of Ipswich, MA. We have three “flights” of these basic exercises from easy to more strenuous, and we’ll be re-publishing each flight over the next few editions.

Here’s the first level. Shape Up 1: Easy Starters For Seniors.

One of five get-started exercises demonstrated by PT Rick Silverman.

If you are in a rush, you can find them—and many other exercise articles—in our archive under Health>Conditioning.

Happy Labor Day! Thanks for hanging with us through the summer. We’ll see you on the other side, and, remember there are more of us every day, and we aren’t going away.

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