BUFFALO, NY - Winter is looming, and this weekend we are expecting some of our first accumulating snows of the season, so we felt it was time to take a look at our upcoming winter.
Last winter was rather tame with well-below normal snowfall. We don’t believe that this is a trend as this winter has an opportunity of being far more active and colder than last year.
The first step in making a winter prediction is to look at the state of the tropical oceans. Are we in an El Niño or La Niña state?
Last winter we were in El Niño state. Warmer than normal tropical waters in the Pacific encouraged a warm winter that featured little snow.
Now, we are in a weak La Niña state. The tropical waters in the Pacific have cooled which will open the door for more intrusions of cold air for the eastern half of the country.
During a typical weak La Niña, cooler air from the north meets up with an active storm track through the Ohio Valley. That could lead to above normal rain and snow for the Great Lakes during the winter months.
Storm Team 2 went back and looked at past winters that had a similar set up with a weak La Niña season following a strong El Niño season. The winters that were similar in set up were the winters of: 1967-68, 1983-84 and 1995-96. The winter of 1967-68 did not have much snow, but the winters of ’83-‘84 and ’95-‘96 were blockbuster snowfall winters.
Another phenomenon that we are noticing now, is the buildup of cold and snow in Eurasia. There is a link between early-season snow and cold in Eurasia, and the eventual development of cold air for the East Coast the following winter. We believe this set-up will help enhance cold weather outbreaks for us this season.
At the same time, we are noticing an enhanced jet stream crossing the Pacific Ocean, that is flooding North America with very warm air. This is why October and November have been so warm.
A developing active storm track across the Pacific and into the United States meeting up with cooler air coming down from Canada will set the stage for a potential snowy winter season.
We are calling for snowfall this winter for Western New York to be 100 to 130% of normal. Normal yearly snowfall in Buffalo is 94 inches. So, the higher end of that scale would bring our totals possibly closer to 110 and 120 inches for the season.
We will see numerous shots of cold air but right now with such a warm start to the season and not expecting the cold to lock-in as strongly as it did, let’s say in the winter of 2013 and 2014, we think when all is said and done the winter will feature average temperatures.
So, yes, I think it would be a good time to get the snow blowers ready and tuned up.