The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) makes long-range forecasts each month.
We are going to show you these forecasts, but first, a warning.
WARNING: Long-range forecasts are rarely accurate. These forecasts cover three months but we know that skiing quality improves and degrades with storm cycles that last a few days to a week.
Paying attention to the 1-10 day forecast (All-Access only) is the way that you'll find powder and give you the best information for your weekend trip or destination ski vacation.
Temperature Forecast During December, January, & February
Warm. This outlook is based on a general trend of increasing temperatures during the past years and decades.
Precipitation Forecast During December, January, & February
Most of the country is in the "Equal Chances" zone, which basically means that the odds of average, above-average, or below-average precipitation is about the same.
Coastal California is the "Probability of Below" zone, which means that the odds of below-average precipitation is higher.
Much of the Upper Midwest is the "Probability of Above" zone, which means that the odds of above-average precipitation is higher.
But remember, 3-6 month forecasts have little to no value so don't get too excited or upset by where your favorite areas fall on this map.
What about El Niño or La Niña?
A strong El Niño or La Niña (which refers to ocean water temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean) can help us predict snowfall patterns during the winter.
For the upcoming 2019-2020 winter season, there's a 10% chance that water temperatures will reach below-average (blue bar = La Niña), a 41% chance that water temperatures will be above-average (red bar = El Niño), and a 49% chance that water temperatures will be near-average (grey bar = Neutral).
Overall, this does not provide us with a strong signal for an El Niño or La Niña event.
Since long-range forecasts are rarely accurate or useful for finding great snow, here is a quick recap of our strategy for finding the deepest powder:
If you want the highest odds of deep powder, here are our six tips:
1) Live in a location that's close to mountains with the deepest snow.
2) If you can't live close to deep powder, wait until 7-10 days before booking your trip.
3) Even if you wait until 7-10 days before booking your trip, consider only booking to a general area.
4) If you have to book a trip far in advance, pick locations that statistics show have the deepest powder.
5) If you can't execute any of the above strategies, change your expectations for your ski trip.
6) Upgrade to All-Access for 10-day forecasts to help you find the pow.
Download the OpenSnow app and stay tuned to our forecasts for the latest weather updates.
Never miss another powder day with All-Access.
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- 5-Day Hourly Forecasts
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"It is well worth the All-Access upgrade considering you get access to a 10-day HIGHLY accurate forecast. It’s a small price to pay for finding fresh powder."
— App Review