Co-Founder of Weather Channel Challenges NOAA’s Winter Forecast: 'Nonsense'

Barbara Hollingsworth | November 20, 2015 | 4:35pm EST
Font Size

( – The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is predicting above-average temperatures for much of the northern and western United States this winter due to the effects of the “strong El Nino that’s currently in place.”

But Joseph D’Aleo, co-founder of the Weather Channel and chief forecaster at Weatherbell Analytics, a meteorological consulting firm, called NOAA’s seasonal forecast for December through February “nonsense” - pointing out that NOAA’s predictions have been proven wrong the past two winters.

During a conference call with reporters on Thursday, Jon Gottschalck, chief of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center's Operational Prediction Branch in College Park, Maryland said that due to the effects of the current El Nino, which is “probably among the strongest on record,” much of the northern and western U.S. would experience “above-average temperatures” this winter.

Only a “small area” along the nation’s southern border would have lower than normal temperatures between December and February, he said..

But Weatherbell's forecast is for below-average temperatures for much of the southern part of the U.S.,with as much as 30 inches of snow predicted for Washington, D.C.

Weatherbell's prediction also calls for higher-than normal temperatures in the Pacific Northwest and along the northern section of the country due to the effect of El Nino.

"Overall, a snowy, colder than normal winter is experienced in the South and East. The core of winter will be late rather than earlier. December could be very warm, with February very cold. El Nino is a big influence, but not the only factor," according to Weatherbell.


Seasonal forecast for Dec-Feb-Mar 2015/16. (Weatherbell Analytics)

D'Aleo also pointed out that Weatherbell’s seasonal predictions for the last two winters were on target, while NOAA’s were not.

“Their forecast was warm for 2013/14 for the Great Lakes when Chicago had their coldest December to March on record,” D’Aleo told in an email.

He also pointed out that on Oct. 16, 2014 NOAA predicted “another warm winter” with “above-average temperatures…most likely in the western U.S., Alaska, Hawaii and New England.”

“They were warm in the Northeast last winter when the 10 Northeast states plus D.C. had their coldest January to March in the entire record," he noted. 

In contrast, “Weatherbell, in the summer of 2013, suggested the Great Lakes would have an historic winter, which it was. Last year, we forecast another very cold winter for the eastern Great Lakes and Northeast,” D’Aleo told

“Winters have been cooling in the Northeast at a rate of 1.5F/decade for 20 years,” he continued. “There has been a lot of complaints from the local offices and from the energy markets about NOAA's warm bias. A lot of money has been budgeted to try and improve their seasonal forecast ability.”

D’Aleo also challenged a prediction by Ahira Sanchez-Lugo, a climate scientist at NOAA’s National Centers for Environmental Information in Ashville, N.C., who said during the press briefing that “we expect 2015 to be the warmest year on record.”

“We also do not agree with the assessment of the current climate this year, either. Though we acknowledge there will be a bump from El Nino – always is,” D’Aleo told

“Satellites shows no change for 18.6 months. They suggest the year to date is not the warmest ever by a long shot. It’s in the middle of the pack for the last 20 years.

“This is the average of the two satellite sources (UAH and RSS) by month since 1997. The trend is flat,” he said.

Average of UAH and RSS satellite data. (Weatherbell Analytics)


Related: Weather Channel Co-Founder Predicting Snowier, Bitterly Colder Winter Ahead

mrc merch