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Forecaster: Hot Summer to Make Way for Cold, Snowy Winter

While this year's summer heat throughout most of the U.S. remains one of the largest supporting factors to skyrocketing energy prices, one forecasting firm warned that the winter could be a real doozy on the temperature charts. Calling this summer "one of the hottest U.S. summers of all time" from coast to coast, Weather 2000 warned that the country is not completely out of the woods yet heat-wise and that this winter could see significant snowfall and ample cold in certain regions.

"The impressively hot summers of 1995 and 1988 are the only somewhat comparable years in the past two decades to the heat we've witnessed across the entire Central and Eastern U.S.," the forecasting firm said in its Aug. 2005-Feb. 2006 El Niño/Southern Oscillation Predictions and Analysis report. "While most of the blistering heat and humidity is now behind us, substantial anomalies and CDD [cooling degree day] tallies are still likely, as such dominating patterns tend to have thermal inertia and momentum that carry above normal themes right into September."

As an example, Weather 2000 noted that Newark, NJ has already tied its record for most separate official heat waves in a summer with six, adding that a seventh down the road would not be out of the question.

The forecasting firm blames severe drought for many of the heat waves this season. "In an enormous swath of territory from the Western Gulf up through the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and out to the Atlantic, moderate to extreme drought has been a driving force this summer, helping to sustain heat waves, spiking afternoon temperatures to record levels, and yielding meager overall precipitation tallies not seen this low for some areas since the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s," Weather 2000 said. "In August, drought has also redeveloped across the Northwestern states, spurring forest, brush and wildfires for yet another year. Considering the climatologically hottest temperatures don't occur until September for some western cities, be prepared for several more weeks of summer weather west of the Rockies before you turn your attention to the autumn."

Focusing on the rest of 2005, Weather 2000 noted that the autumn months notoriously have the lowest predictive skill. "In addition to summer themes continuing into September for many locations, the eastern portions of the nation should also witness a sizeable and significant 'Indian Summer' episode(s) this autumn," the company said. "This will be an important reminder that any cool spells witnessed in the next several weeks are not the onset of winter."

In addition, Weather 2000 noted that because Great Lakes water temperatures are currently at near historically-warm levels, any warm spells this fall will only sustain this surface warmth up to the doorstep of winter.

"Subsequently, we are anticipating an extremely heavy and frequent lake-effect snow season for the conclusion of 2005," Weather 2000 said. "Besides the local impacts to downwind locales, an early and intense lake-effect snow season can have far reaching and long-lasting cooling and albedo impacts as far away as the Ohio Valley and Mid-Atlantic."

Reiterating its position on this winter, Weather 2000 said its research continues to point toward yet another cold and stormy winter for the eastern U.S. "While the previous two winters yielded some very frigid weeks and months for the East/Northeast during the heart of the winter, this winter should more closely resemble the warm-West versus cold-East national divide we witnessed during 2002-2003 or 1995-1996."

Under this scenario, the forecaster said the Midwest and Southeast are placed much more under the gun of Canadian cold air masses. "We caution that our winter forecasts for ample cold and snow are again in direct contrast to popular government outlooks and other forecast services (calling for a warm winter or only brief Northeast cool), in much the same way that we were out on a limb with our very hot 2005 summer predictions."

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