Mild Winters

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sierra

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I may be jumping the gun, but I don't really think so. I'm hiking Thursday and I have to re-do my gear for the day based on the warm forecast. The winters are not that tough in the last few years at all. I grew up hiking in the Whites and I know our memories tend to focus on the worst, but I am not running into hardcore conditions much at all. I used my snowshoes a handful of times last winter, not 3 out of 4 trips like I used too. Do I have trail amnesia?
 
I may be jumping the gun, but I don't really think so. I'm hiking Thursday and I have to re-do my gear for the day based on the warm forecast. The winters are not that tough in the last few years at all. I grew up hiking in the Whites and I know our memories tend to focus on the worst, but I am not running into hardcore conditions much at all. I used my snowshoes a handful of times last winter, not 3 out of 4 trips like I used too. Do I have trail amnesia?
Last year was absurdly mild. It was so mild to the point that by the beginning of FEB I had started focusing on backpacking trips for the year and put away all my big boy Winter gear (which of course triggered some snow fall :LOL:). Last Winter I never wore snowshoes or crampons and only shoveled my driveway at home ONCE - in mid March. I can only remember one 36 hour span all season that I thought was cold.

This year has certainly started out mellow too. I think the forecast is for a good snow year but not overly cold. Who knows. I think we had this conversation on VFTT last year. I remember "back in the day" being downhill skiing once or twice before Thanksgiving most years and generally everyone was open by Thanksgiving with at least 8-10 trails. Christmas was a prime vacation ski week. Now they almost never have snow. Since I seriously started hiking in 2012 I too recall much worse conditions by now. I have many November ascents of the various 4ks in my saved photos that were worse than anything I have done in official Winter, and not even on the big peaks.

One particular climb that comes to mind was a sunrise hike I did on Jackson. It was -5 deg F on summit with a steady 20-25 mph wind and about a foot of snow up there and some new powder. I remember it being a JAN morning due to the weather but when it came up as a Facebook memory it was actually 11/16/19. Have many hikes like that past 10 years.IMGP0137_RS.jpg
 
Last year was absurdly mild. It was so mild to the point that by the beginning of FEB I had started focusing on backpacking trips for the year and put away all my big boy Winter gear (which of course triggered some snow fall :LOL:). Last Winter I never wore snowshoes or crampons and only shoveled my driveway at home ONCE - in mid March. I can only remember one 36 hour span all season that I thought was cold.

This year has certainly started out mellow too. I think the forecast is for a good snow year but not overly cold. Who knows. I think we had this conversation on VFTT last year. I remember "back in the day" being downhill skiing once or twice before Thanksgiving most years and generally everyone was open by Thanksgiving with at least 8-10 trails. Christmas was a prime vacation ski week. Now they almost never have snow. Since I seriously started hiking in 2012 I too recall much worse conditions by now. I have many November ascents of the various 4ks in my saved photos that were worse than anything I have done in official Winter, and not even on the big peaks.

One particular climb that comes to mind was a sunrise hike I did on Jackson. It was -5 deg F on summit with a steady 20-25 mph wind and about a foot of snow up there and some new powder. I remember it being a JAN morning due to the weather but when it came up as a Facebook memory it was actually 11/16/19. Have many hikes like that past 10 years.View attachment 7395
Nice pic!!
 
Nice pic!!
Thanks. That was an awesome hike. Was only able to last about 20 minutes on the summit though before my hands were frozen solid and I had to head out and start generating some heat. I've yet to figure out a good way to work a camera or phone in gloves when it is really cold. I have some fleece mittens that the fingers and thumb flip off of to expose the fingers. I was doing that and wearing a nitrile glove as a base layer and stuffing my hands in my pockets every few minutes. Only works for so long. Standing around in a 25mph doesn't help.
 
Most predictions for this winter seem to be lower thn normal snow pack for the whites over to VT. A warmer gulf of maine in combination with mositure come from the south along the coast versus west to east means the coast and southern NH get the moisture and most of the time the warmer gulf of Maine means rain. The whites act a barrier to coastal storms heading north so upslope snows can develop to the southern side of the forest and the Conway area will probably still get the jackpot while the RT 2 corridor ends up on the low end. If its like past years the snowmachine trails and ice up on the lakes in central NH are delayed unil mid to late February into March. Bretton Woods had a official opening today but the forecast indicates a pretty warm rain will get rid of the whatever they have made.
 
Been a pretty brisk November as things go inland. Eastern NY State by the Vermont border as well as up in Northern Maine.

If all else fails, there’s always Anchorage. IMG_5444.jpeg
 
It has been statistically colder (and drier) in Boston through the first 1/2 of November. NOAA stats (columns are this year, average, difference, last year):

DEGREE DAYS
HEATING
YESTERDAY 22 20 2 25
MONTH TO DATE 278 248 30 117
SINCE SEP 1 532 645 -113 431
SINCE JUL 1 532 654 -122 431

So +30 degree days compared to average. Doesn't correlate to anything in the long run.

Concord, NH shows similar colder then average stats:

DEGREE DAYS
HEATING
YESTERDAY 29 26 3 32
MONTH TO DATE 376 330 46 195
SINCE SEP 1 817 978 -161 799
SINCE JUL 1 835 1009 -174 801

+46 degree days
 
When is the last time an agency nailed a 4-5 month forecast? As the saying goes in these parts you never know what Winter is going to be like until mid April or so.
 
No question it's warmer now than when I was a kid.

But when was the last time any "authority" or "expert" nailed a 5 DAY forecast? And folks run around trying to change the world, imagining that these same "experts" have nailed a 5 decade forecast.
 
I mean, 5 day forecasts get nailed all the time. More often than not. Most of us here plan trips off of them. Just saying.

My wife always teases me to not pay too much attention to the two week forecast but usually by the time it’s five days out, you have a pretty good idea. Perfect, no, but close enough as they say. Meteorologists are a pretty cool bunch.

But we digress.
 
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NHPR article (When El Niño and climate change collide: What it means for a New Hampshire winter – New Hampshire Bulletin)

When El Niño and climate change collide: What it means for a New Hampshire winter​


By: Hadley Barndollar - January 11, 2024​


The Granite State may have been pummeled by a good ol’ snowstorm on Sunday, but the 50-degree temperatures, rain, and flooding emergencies that followed a few days later were quick reminders that winters here are changing.

This year specifically has a unique fusion of factors: an El Niño weather pattern combining with the effects of climate change, said state climatologist and University of New Hampshire associate professor of geography Mary Stampone, causing “an enhanced warming this winter.”

El Niño and La Niña are two opposing natural climate phenomena that break from normal conditions, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The two contradicting patterns can impact everything from seasonal rains in Africa, to monsoons in Asia, to New England winters.

Trade winds are weak during El Niño and strong during La Niña, ultimately influencing “hemispheric-scale seasonal weather,” Stampone said. While their impacts fluctuate and vary based on geographic location, in northern New England, El Niño is historically associated with warming and La Niña with cold.

“During El Niño, you end up having a warmer water pool off the coast of South America, and that then influences atmospheric patterns across much of the northern hemisphere,” Stampone said.

An El Niño winter is occurring for the first time in four years, and NOAA first declared its arrival in June.

As a result, the agency’s U.S. Winter Outlook predicted warmer-than-average temperatures across the northern tier of the U.S. and much of the West, noting that northern New England is among the areas with the greatest odds for such conditions.
In fact, NOAA’s blog providing updates on El Niño posted in December about a 54 percent chance this El Niño event will end up “historically strong,” potentially ranking in the top 5 on record.

Neutral conditions are expected to return between April and June.

El Niño ‘on top’ of general warming​

While an El Niño winter is nothing new, its collision with climate change can make it more pronounced, scientists say.
“Climate change can exacerbate or mitigate certain impacts related to El Niño,” said Michelle L’Heureux, climate scientist at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center. “For example, El Niño could lead to new records for temperatures, particularly in areas that already experience above-average temperatures during El Niño.”

Stampone described it as El Niño occurring “on top” of general warming.

“Here, our winters are already warming faster than our other seasons, so there’s the climate change part,” she said. “El Niño tends to make things even warmer.”

A 2022 analysis by Climate Central – a nonprofit organization that analyzes and reports on climate science – found that winters have warmed by 3.3 degrees Fahrenheit on average across 238 U.S. locations since 1970. Parts of New England are far above the national average, including the city of Concord, which saw winters warm by 6 degrees. New England is losing temperatures below freezing, and in turn, consistent snowfall and snow cover, scientists say.

Stampone said an El Niño weather pattern also tends to make conditions a little bit wetter. The month of December in New Hampshire, she said, saw nearly double the normal amount of rain. Heavy rains on Dec. 18 prompted road closures and evacuations in parts of the state, as a National Weather Service meteorologist called the day “a historical river flooding event for this area.”
 
Its finally looking like winter in Gorham, yesterday's event did change to rain but really didn't eat up the snow that had fallen. My guess is there is going to be great crust forming, not good enough for the local snowmachine business as the streams are not bridged but still it looks like winter. First time this year that my driveway is not bare.
 
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