"Siberian Snow Theory" Is Predicting A Freezing Winter For The US


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockNov 25 2016, 11:29 UTC

A NOAA snow cover chart of the norther hemispehre on October 31. NCDC/NOAA

There’s a theory among some climatologists that says if Siberia has a heavy snowfall in October, then the eastern US will go through a particularly chilly and early winter. Low and behold, it was snowing like crazy in Siberia last month.

The leading proponent of the "Siberian Snow Theory" is Dr Judah Cohen, a climatologist from MIT and Director of Seasonal Forecasting at Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER). He’s been studying the relationship between Siberia’s fall snow cover and resulting US weather since 2001 and argues his predictions are correct 75 percent of the time, Bloomberg reports.


Research on the trend was published in Environmental Research Letters in 2012 by AER, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

So how does it all work? They found that above average snow cover in Siberia during October is strongly linked to trends in the negative phase of the winter’s Arctic Oscillation, a pattern of climate variability in the Northern Hemisphere. During this negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation, the belts of wind that trap cold air in the North Pole weaken, allowing the super-chilled Arctic winds to reach south towards the US.


“This year, we have had this very textbook situation,” Cohen told Bloomberg. As such, he thinks this winter is going to be a lot colder in the mid-latitudes than most forecasters are currently predicting. He also tweeted that his estimates suggest that the UK will experience a winter “on the colder side of normal.”


In fact, as December creeps closer and closer, he says he’s becoming even more confident the theory will prove correct.

"Siberian Snow Theory" is not without its critics and doubters. As mentioned before, even Cohen concedes there's a 25 percent chance the model could be inaccurate, due to a wealth of other factors. Nevertheless, climatologists are excitedly and nervously awaiting to see if the prediction of a freezing East Coast US comes true. Only time will tell, it seems.

  • tag
  • weather,

  • snow,

  • Arctic,

  • NOAA,

  • Siberia,

  • climate,

  • winter,

  • season,

  • Climate science,

  • Siberian Snow Theory