There are lots of factors all around the globe we look at when we put together the winter forecast. Unfortunately there are no clear-cut signals this year (like El Nino) and several other signals are conflicting. So we do the best we can and here goes...
I think we’ve already seen the early signs of the winter pattern setting up. In the 10 days leading up to Thanksgiving we went from temperatures in the 60s to one of the coldest November days in decades to a major winter storm for the Eastern U.S.
That’s a sign of the volatility and variability I expect this winter. We’ll see a lot of back and forth weather, from cold to warm and back to cold again. 30 and 40 degree temperature swings could happen a few times this winter. It already happened once.
I expect this back and forth pattern to dominate the early part of winter through early January. I think December will turn out to be warmer than normal. After a mild spell in January I expect it to turn colder later in the month. February appears to be the coldest month of the winter. It should also be the stormiest and our best opportunity to see one or two big snowstorms. It’s possible this cold lingers well into March meaning a delayed spring. Overall though with the back and forth early I expect temperatures to turn out near normal for the winter.
As for snowfall, I expect the winter overall to turn out near normal to slightly below. I think with a primary storm track through the Ohio Valley, we’ll see a lot of mixed precipitation events (snow to ice to rain). The farther north and west you live, the more snow you’ll see this winter.
December will feature that back and forth weather I mentioned but will be cold enough for a few snow events. It’s too early to tell whether we will see a White Christmas. The pattern might be too mild to support a good chance.
As it turns colder in January the storm track may shift farther south and keep major snow events away from PA. But as the cold really locks in for February and the jet stream starts to lift back north as we head into spring, that’ll represent our best chance for a big storm. March could
also bring the chance for a good storm.
If anything “goes wrong” with this forecast I could see it turning out much colder and snowier than I am portraying. Sun spots activity has really dropped off and should allow Canada to really get cold. Snow cover really has built up in the fall but has slowed as we approach winter. That impact is unclear but I could see it causing the cold air to really build. We just need a trigger to bring it south.
The combination of the Artic Oscillation (AO) and North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) is expected to remain unfavorable for significant stretches of this winter. That tends to keep the cold air bottled up. However signs of a +PNA pattern out west could help the jet stream transport some of
that cold air south into the U.S. If that pattern can lock in things could get very stormy around here.
Here’s the snowfall forecast:
Last year: 27”
Last year: 27”
Last year: 17”