Will winter be mild or wild?

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Although the National Weather Service is predicting a mild to average winter for 2013-2014, the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a bitterly cold and snowy winter. The Old Farmer’s Almanac is also predicting a harsh winter, although shows Beloit as being in an area that won’t be hit as hard as the rest of the country.

For 2013 -2014, Farmers’ Almanac (www.farmersalmanac.com) is forecasting a winter with below average temperatures for most of the country. The coldest temperatures will be in the area from the Northern Plains on east to the Great Lakes, putting Wisconsin in heart of frigid weather. And when in comes to precipitation, Midwest along with the Southern Plains and Southeast will have higher than average amounts of snow.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac (www.almanac.com) is also predicting a bitterly cold and snowy winter. It goes on to say a decline in solar activity combined with ocean-atmosphere patterns in the Pacific and Atlantic will result in below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfall this winter.

Beloit, however, might be spared. According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac 2014 Long-Range Weather Forecast said winter will be slightly milder than normal, with near-normal precipitation and below-normal snowfall in most of the region. The coldest periods will be in mid-to-late December, early and mid-January, and in early to mid-February. The snowiest periods will be in mid- and late December and in late January. The first snow shower is forecast for late November.

Despite some of the cold and wet predictions, Rudy Schaar, a National Weather Service meteorologist in Sullivan, Wis., said October may be slightly warmer than normal, and this winter is likely to be mild to average. From November through January there are equal chances or it being either above, below or average in terms of both temperature and precipitation for the Greater Beloit area.

Schaar said the difference in predictions could stem from how other sources may rely on the solar cycles to make weather forecasts, while the National Weather Services uses ocean-atmosphere patterns.

Schaar acknowledged the Earth is in the peak of an 11-year solar cycle, which culminates with a high amount of solar flare activity.

“We are close to the peak and then we are going downhill,” he said.

At the peak it can be slightly warmer and stormier which could explain some of the warmer and stormier winters in the past few years. And since the peak is almost reached, the warmth could turn slightly cooler in the future. He said although solar flare activity can have a small impact on radio wave propagation, electromagetics and weather to a small degree, Schaar said the cycle is really not that dramatic.

According to the ocean-atmosphere patterns, there is a neutral phase in place.

“Signals show it’s going to be a normal winter for us,” said.

Schaar said he couldn’t predict when the first snow will fall but said it’s typically the middle or end of November.

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