By Sarah Wroblewski

BOSTON (CBS) – Fall is a beautiful time of the year, well, most years. No one really wants to rush through the season, but when the leaves begin to change some people start searching for signs about the upcoming winter.

I mean, history has a way of repeating itself, right? So I’m sure you’ve heard the same folklore each year, from how many acorns fall on the ground to the length of a woolly bear caterpillar, each signifying a harsh winter. There are also signs from an autumn harvest. If the skin of an onion or corn husk is thicker than normal, then be prepared for a tough winter.

While these signs from Mother Nature year-to-year can start rumors about our upcoming winter, as a meteorologist, they don’t play a role in our forecast.

However, can we learn something from history? I decided to check in with Blue Hill Observatory‘s chief scientist Mike Iacono.

“I’ve been a volunteer at the Blue Hill Observatory for about 30 years. So I’m very familiar with the long term, very consistent climate records collected there now for over 130 years,” he told WBZ-TV.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

Blue Hill Observatory is closing in on one of the wettest fall seasons (Sept. 1- Nov. 30) since record-keeping began in 1894. With the recent rain and above average wet conditions this fall, I wanted to see if precipitation can play a role in winter snowfall. Basically, does a lot of rain, mean a lot of snow?

“September and October combined for this year was the seventh wettest on record and November is getting off to a wet start, so all of fall will likely be in the top 10 wettest as well.” Iacono said. “I’ve looked at this issue whether fall is connected to winter precipitation and there really isn’t very much.”

So while that’s a “no,” Iacono said there is a connection when you look at temperatures. “For temperatures we do see a moderate correlation between fall and winter.”

According to his research, when above average temperatures are observed in October and November, about fifty-percent of the time, above average temperatures are likely during the winter months.

(WBZ-TV graphic)

“Many of us have experienced the warm fall lasting into the winter, or the early part of winter.” he said. “So that happens on many years, but it doesn’t happen every year.”

So you might think since October and November have been milder than average, that trend could continue into the winter season, impacting precipitation types and snowfall.

However, the pattern looks to change to a more colder solution in the next couple of weeks. Could that be a hint of what’s to come? We’ll see, plus fall temperatures are not the only piece of the puzzle.

There are so many other factors and global patterns we look at to determine a winter forecast. Eric Fisher will dive deeper into explaining these patterns Thursday night on WBZ-TV News at 11. He’ll also share his snowfall projection as part of his 2018-2019 winter weather forecast.

Sarah Wroblewski


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