This morning I woke up to a layer of fresh, fluffy snow. It’s October 24.

After living on a mountain in northern Vermont for the last 12 years, you’d think I would be accustomed to the occasional mid-autumn snowfall. Not so much. Each year it seems to come earlier and earlier; a sneak preview of what’s sure to come in the long, cold months ahead.

I’m fortunate enough to spend my winter workdays in the comfort of a warm office building, but for you tree care pros in northern regions of the country, the winter months can mean long hours in frigid temps in the wake of snow and ice storms. So, what can we expect from Mother Nature this winter? Depends on who you ask.

The meteorologists at predict that the northeast part of the country will see above-normal temperatures and below-normal snowfall for the first half of the season, while the northern plains and upper Midwest will face bitterly cold temps and several strong storms bringing above-normal snow totals. California may see heavy precipitation, which could bring relief from the extreme drought parts of the state have seen this year. The Northwest is predicted to see above-average precipitation (both rain and snow), while the Southeast will be sitting comfortable in above-average temps.

For those of you more inclined to heed the predictions of a 197-year-old publication that uses a forecast formula based on sunspots, planetary predictions and lunar cycles, the Farmer’s Almanac is using a four-letter word to describe the coming winter: snow. According to the publication, “the days of shivery are back,” and below-average temperatures are predicted for two-thirds of the country. The Midwest, Great Lakes and New England can expect to receive lots of snow, while the Pacific Northwest is forecasted to have a drier-than-normal season.

The publication’s most interesting – and specific – prediction is that there will be a massive storm in early February, possibly interfering with the first Super Bowl to be played outside in a cold-weather venue, scheduled for February 2 in New Jersey. The publication is so confident about this prediction they have already dubbed the game “Storm Bowl,” and encouraged fans and players to allow plenty of travel time and pack extra warm clothes and rain gear.

We’ll have to wait a few months to see how accurate these forecasts are, but it’s always smart to plan for the worst and hope for the best. Take stock of your equipment, make sure your maintenance is up to date, and when the first snow flies, you’ll be ready for action.

Katie Meyers