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Winter Outlook: What Will El Niño Bring To The Party This Winter?

Jackson-Pow Last spring saw some unbelievable conditions at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort. Will we see more of the same this winter? (Jackson Hole Mountain Resort/Facebook)

As summer fades to fall, skiers and snowboarders across North America are chomping at the bit to strap on the boards when Colorado’s Arapahoe Basin and Loveland Ski Area, Vermont’s Killington Resort and Maine’s Sunday River prepare for the annual #racetoopen for the 2018-19 season.

While the calendar turns from summer to fall in a couple weeks, and winter is still on schedule to officially arrive December 21, the heat of summer may be holding on a bit longer this season, despite El Niño being invited to the party.

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center just released the long-range forecast for December 2018 through February 2019, and with a weak to moderate El Niño predicted, warmer temperatures and below normal precipitation are forecasted. However, the long-range forecasts are just that - long range - and are simply used to predict a pattern, not actual weather and snow conditions. Besides, with continued improvement in snowmaking technology, we will be skiing in every region of the country by Thanksgiving. Just no promises on how much terrain will be available.

Before we look at the December 2018 through February 2019 forecasts, let's take a look at the current September 2018 through November 2018 outlook.


Based on the September to November forecast, much of the country can expect above average temperatures, which will put snowmaking systems and snowmakers to the test during the early part of the upcoming 2018-19 season.

Looking ahead to the December through February outlook, the warmth will continue across much of the country. But remember, this is not an actual forecast, just an outlook based upon current conditions.

But wait, there is still time for El Niño to come to the party! But will it bring cheap beer or top-shelf tequila? Our friends at OpenSnow.com break down down the party possibilities. 

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