Jon James guarantees record-setting winter

Blizzard Conditions

I guarantee the winter ahead will be record setting.

Just kidding| If I could guarantee that forecast I wouldn't be writing here. I'd be writing from the Chicago Mercantile Exchange and I'd be a billionaire!

Yes, if I could forecast the weather far into the future I'd be trading commodities... wheat, heating oil, etc. and cleaning up. If anyone around here tells you they can forecast what our winter will be like they are full of it and shouldn't be trusted.

I wish I could deliver a sure long range forecast - as that is the question I've been getting more than any other these past few weeks. When I tell them that I could give them an accurate winter forecast - but I'd be lying, the reply has 100 percent of the time (and that rarely happens) that the winter ahead will be cold and snowy. That is what EVERYONE says! Why?

I've seen a few Woolly Bears this fall, of varying stripes. One was even white! The squirrels in my back yard are busy, busy, busy. The fruit and nut production of our trees and shrubs has been high.

Is the Woolly Bear really telling us what is going to happen? Aren't our squirrels always busy? What else would they do? Doesn't abundant fruit and nut production mean we saw plenty of rain, warmth and sunshine over the summer? All true there.

The Farmers' Almanac prediction for the winter of 2011/12 is much the same as last year and I'll provide their graphic. They rely on sun spot activity for their long-range forecasts.

The Climate Prediction Center, NOAA's arm of long-range weather prediction is forecasting pretty much what we saw last year. With another La Nina, albeit weaker, in play this year that is not surprising. So, based of previous La Nina years we can expect slightly below normal temps and above normal precipitation. The predictions for the months of October, November and December, and that's as far out as they go for now, from the CPC only forecast that temperatures will be slightly above normal and precipitation will be near normal. Not much help there.

There is so much to look at when trying to figure out what the weather will do in the medium and long range... be it climatology, Rossby Waves, various oscillations, volcanic activity. The ocean of air that is over our heads is so large... if you think the world's oceans are big, imagine the ocean of air with wild and varying patterns and currents/streams and trying to forecast how that will look in three, four, five months.

To predict that with certainty and accuracy, well - folklore has about as much of a shot at verifying. And they're much more entertaining too.

The stories/tales are great humor as well. I'm not sure where it came from, but here is one of my favorites:

It was October and the Indians on a remote reservation asked their new Chief if the coming winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a Chief in a modern society he had never been taught the old secrets. When he looked at the sky he couldn't tell what the winter was going to be like.Nevertheless, to be on the safe side he told his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect firewood to be prepared. But being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked, "Is the coming winter going to be cold?""It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold," the meteorologist at the weather service responded.So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more firewood in order to be prepared. A week later he called the National Weather Service again. "Does it still look like it is going to be a very cold winter?""Yes," the man at National Weather Service again replied, "it's going to be a very cold winter."The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of firewood they could find. Two weeks later the Chief called the National Weather Service again. "Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?""Absolutely," the man replied. "It's looking more and more like it is going to be one of the coldest winters ever.""How can you be so sure?" the Chief asked.The weatherman replied, "The Indians are collecting firewood like crazy."

Hey, I hold a Master's degree in meteorology and here's the way I always prepare in the fall, in spite of thinking I know something about the weather: Prepare for the worst and hope for the best. It's never a bad thing to have firewood left over for next year.

So listen to who you like and trust and assimilate all you can from various sources. That TMs what I do each and everyday. Your forecast will likely be as good as anyone when looking more than a month out. I hope the winter brings the weather you are looking for and, hopefully, a white Christmas to boot:

And, oh yeah " my ski TMs are waxed and ready to fly!

Read more: Farmers' Almanac