El Nino predicted for winter weather

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“If you see a wasp’s nest built low to the ground, expect little snow. If you see one built high, expect a lot of snow,” weather lore tells us. This year’s nests can be found low to the ground and low precipitation is predicted in the coming winter months. (Kathleen Woodford/Mineral Independent)

“See how high the hornet’s nest, ‘twill tell how high the snow will rest.” This is an old farmer’s saying, and if hornets’ behavior this fall holds true, there will be relatively less snow this winter. There have been a lot of reports of hornets flying close to the ground and getting into homes through doors and windows. An indication that their nests are closer to the ground. “If you see a wasp’s nest built low to the ground, expect little snow. If you see one built high, expect a lot of snow,” the weather lore tells us.

How accurate are these yellow-winged pests this season? According to the National Weather Service, pretty accurate.

“We’re still well below normal for precipitation and temperatures have varied over the last two weeks and have ranged from a bit below normal to slightly above normal,” reported Jim Ward, Superior District Fire Management Officer.

The three-month outlook shows normal precipitation and above-normal temperatures, Ward said. Also, the U.S. Drought Monitor shows areas to be abnormally dry with moderate drought starting to occur on the west end of Mineral County. However, the outlook through Dec. 31, 2018, does not show developing drought conditions.

THE FIRST reports of snow started to trickle in over last weekend for the West Glacier, Potomac/Seeley Lake region, as well as in the Northern and Southern Rocky Mountain Front, according to the National Weather Service — as well as some eastern Montana counties, including Rosebud and Stillwater, and in Cooke City near Yellowstone Park.

But these early snowfalls don’t necessarily indicate a bad winter. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a 70-percent chance of a El Nino winter season. El Nino and La Nina are opposite phases of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation cycle, which is a scientific study of the temperature fluctuations between atmospheric and ocean temperatures in the central Pacific Ocean.

OF THE two, La Nina is a cold phase and El Nino is warmer. With this cycle, the Northern Rockies and Pacific Northwest are predicted to have below average to average precipitation while Colorado, parts of Utah, and the Southern Rockies will have above-average precipitation. As for those pesky hornet, don’t worry because they start to die when temperatures start to drop.

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