In my original update I talked about how I that the winter would start harsh with ups and downs and a warm end which would put us near a an average winter. The basis for the cold start was that at the time of writing the Wintercast I saw that the Arctic was prime for a release of very cold air. What I thought would happen in this winter was that the cold would first discharge into the western U.S. and then spread eastward. Though for the second year in a row, the arctic discharged more in other areas and spared us. Europe had a very harsh start to winter and now the arctic seems to be discharging into Asia. I'm not seeing a change in this situation until at least the very end of the month.
So what does this mean. I believe that because December is going to be mild on average, that we are still going to have our up and down stretches through the rest of the winter. While the snow pack is primed to give us some pretty good blasts for the winter, overall I think the temperature for the entire season is going to end up a little above average.
So in other words, yes, I think we have missed the boat for an extremely harsh winter.
For a look at what I see in the future, check out my long range outlook in the Weather Blog.
A record snowfall last October had many fearing a harsh winter. But we learned, an early blast of winter doesn't always mean a harsh winter. This October was stormy, but not as snowy, so what will this winter be like?
For the past two years the pacific was cool, known as La Nia. This year a warmer El Nio was forecasted but now looks to be weak at best. Why does this matter? This neutral condition has been present for some of our harsher winters, but it depends on other things
Such as the Gulf of Alaska, which is running cool and may help to push colder air more into the west and leave us a little milder
This cold air will be present with the snow cover growing much faster than last year. More snow means cold snaps for us.
Lastly, we need to look at the east coast. Warmer than usual water makes storms stronger. Good news is that the waters are cool except up to the north. Storms may tend to deepen once past our area. We've seen signs of this recently, and while we may get one big one, it may be rougher for New England.
Now the details of your Wintercast. I'm seeing a very up and down ride with a rough start and a smooth finish. It shouldn't be too harsh, but may feel that way compared to last year. I'm forecasting a cold December, about 4 degrees below average and much colder than last year. The early winter cold will open up the lakes for above average snowfall in the Laurel Highlands and may leave us with a good chance for a White Christmas. The cold may last into early January, but then expect some ups and downs through the heart of the winter. January will end up near average, the odds for a subzero day will be the same as for a warm day in the 50s.
The ups and downs will continue into February but while an arctic blast or two is possible, Punxsutawney Phil may not need his shadow as there could be a turnaround later in the month. Skiers may want to enjoy the early season as we may be prone to a milder than usual march, though likely not as warm as last year's amazing march.
It's impossible to forecast specific amounts of snow as we normally have a wide variety of snowfall across the region. I think it will be a slightly drier winter but what falls, can likely be snow so I am calling for 80-100% of average.