Winter Forecast 2018-2019

  • Normal Temperatures
  • Above Normal Snowfall
  • Slow Start To Winter In December
  • February Most Significant Cold And Snow
  • January Thaw With Highs 50s
  • High Percentage No Snow On The Ground Christmas Morning (Portland)

Wow, where did the summer and fall go?  It’s that time of year, we’re taking a look ahead to the winter months here in Maine. Maine averages between 4 feet and 10 feet annually

This winter’s snow is expected to be slighter higher than normal in Maine and New England.

Snow lovers have been spoiled over the past decade. 7 of the last 10 years have been above normal in snowfall. Normal for the city of Portland is 61 inches.

If you’re familiar with my approach to the winter forecasts, you’ll know I play the numbers, and stay close to statics based on previous years similar to this one.  We’ve had good luck with this approach in the past.  A good starting point is to look at the expected phase of ENSO ( El Nino Southern Oscillation).  This winter ENSO phase has an 88% chance of El Nino. That means above average sea surface temperatures are expected in the Central and Eastern Tropical Pacific Ocean.

It’s hard to imagine the water temperature in the Pacific will have any effect on our weather in New England. If often does though.  The warmer than normal waters in the Pacific often results in an amplified storm track in the the US and often has an affect on temperature and snowfall here in Maine

The strength of El Nino is important in forecasting the winter months. A strong El Nino usually means below normal snowfall, and a weak El Nino provides above normal snowfall (Portland Maine).  Thanks @Joshtimlin for this graph

This Winter is forecast to bring a weak to moderate El Nino.

I’ve based a large portion of this forecast on previous years similar to this one for the months of December, January, and February. These are the 8 winters I’m looking at. Also included are their average temperature and recorded snowfall in Portland for the three month period.

December – February temperature looks like this. Around normal or slightly below normal temperatures. Average temperature Dec- Feb Portland is 25. 6 degrees.

Breaking temps down by month suggest warm December, near normal January, and most significant cold relative to normal February.

Warmer than normal Decembers might mean bad news for folks who want snow on the ground for Christmas.  30 year normals suggest a 53% chance of 1″ or more Christmas morning.

Of the 8 years I analyzed, only one Christmas (1987) had measurable snow on  the ground Christmas morning. That suggests only 12.5% chance of snow on the ground Christmas morning in Portland this year.

Forecast modeling suggesting a variety of solutions.

European Model

Canadian  Model


Precipitation and snowfall is highly variable.  The 8 winters analyzed show normal to slightly below normal precipitation in Maine. Normal snow for the 3 month period is 44.4″ in Portland

Forecast modeling is hinting at above normal precipitation. That might not translate directly to snow though, esp in December.

European Model

NOAA Forecast

In conclusion. This winter forecast isn’t quite as clear cut as last winter, but we’re getting a general idea how it will go down.  I wrote about the current and future state of ENSO,  but other teleconnections play into this forecast. They include Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, and Pacific Decadal Oscillation.  Low solar activity may skew toward the cool and snowy side of the forecast as well.  Many “chances” for storms is expected thanks to the active southern jet.

Normal peak snow is typically in January Portland.

That will probably not be the case this winter as data is pointing at February the big month in Maine.
Unlike last year, we’re seeing signs of a quick flip to spring at some point during the month of March. Rapid melt can often result in river flooding. That’s something we’ll be watching that month.  The warm temps will hang around and spring should average warmer than normal.

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Charlie Lopresti

About Charlie Lopresti

Charlie makes up the "Weather Part" of CBS News 13s evening edition. A native New Englander, he grew up enjoying the area's exciting and sometimes wild weather.