I’ve been doing a little research on snow predictions for the coming ski season, here’s my summary.

Last years snowy winter in the European Alps which was followed by great conditions 6 months later for the Southern Hemisphere ski resorts was generally attributed to a La Nina pattern in the Pacific combined with the Sun being at the solar minimum in its 11 year cycle.

The La Nina conditions which started June 2007, produced a remarkably cold and snowy 2007 winter in South America and a relatively quiet 2007 hurricane season. It was also blamed for the drought last summer in New Zealand and the floods in Britain too.

During late summer 2008, this La Nina pattern has finally more or less ended. Global models suggest an undeniable lull in the trend towards warming that may persist for a few more years, probably linked with the solar minimum.

Another important factor for Europe is the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) prediction. The cooler, drier winter northern Europe experienced in winter 2007/8 was when the observed index was +1.6.

The predicted winter NAO index for 2008/9 is weakly positive at +0.1. However, the prediction is consistent with the coming winter being likely to be less mild than last winter, when above-average temperatures were widespread.

So far this year in Europe we’ve had a few early snow falls in August, September & October. Just last weekend in Chatel we woke to find about 5cms of snow had fallen over the village. Also I’ve noticed quite a few spiders sneaking into the chalet recently !

So what does all this mean ?  Well it seems explaining previous weather conditions with a little hindsight is pretty accurate !

But the general consensus is for coming winter to be cold one again, and last year that produced great snow and ski conditions. At the moment it seems that the predictions are giving positive signs, I’ll keep checking back as more predictions come in and let’s hope the spiders know what they’re talking about.

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