The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) makes long-range forecasts each month.
We are going to show you their forecast for the upcoming winter, 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 for the majority of the country with only a sliver of "Probability of Below" for the Pacific Northwest.
This outlook is based on a general trend of increasing temperatures during the past years and decades.
Precipitation Forecast During December, January, & February
Eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and western Montana, along with a good portion of the Midwest are in the "Probability of Above" zone, which means that the odds of above-average precipitation are higher.
Much of the middle of the country is in the "Equal Chances" zone, which basically means that the odds of average, above-average, or below-average precipitation are about the same.
The southern half of the United States, including California, Arizona, and New Mexico, are in the "Probability of Below" zone, which means that the odds of below-average precipitation are 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 2022-2023 winter season, a "Triple Dip La Niña” looks to be in-store and better yet, current sea surface temperatures are already showing a robust La Niña event.
For the graphic above, there's a 55% chance that water temperatures will stay below-average (blue bar = La Niña), a less than 5% chance that water temperatures will be above-average (red bar = El Niño), and a 40% chance that water temperatures will be near-average (grey bar = Neutral).
These model forecasts provide us with a good signal for La Niña to continue during the 2022-2023 winter season.
The official Climate Prediction Center outlook is also similar to these model forecasts. The CPC is giving a 60% chance of La Niña continuing during the December 2022 to February 2023 timeframe.
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:
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 OpenSnow All-Access for 10-day snow forecasts to help you find the deepest powder.
Download the OpenSnow app and stay tuned to our forecasts for the latest weather updates.