After last year's winter, many are wondering whether we will have anything close to that this upcoming season.
Last season's total snowfall was in the 50-55 inch range and a cold February and March finally started to give way to some warmth by April.
A repeat of that would likely be unpopular!
When diving into this season’s winter outlook, a number of factors are used to determine just how it will play out. I look at El Nino Southern Oscillation, or ENSO, as well as previous winters to determine just how I think the upcoming December-January-February timeframe will play out.
Unfortunately, there is no clear cut El Nino or La Nina happening or in the forecast this coming winter season. We are just coming out of an El Nino cycle (warmer than average waters in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean) heading towards fairly average ocean water temps in that region.
At most, a weak El Nino may develop mid- to late winter. On that note, here is how I see the coming winter playing out:
December: The key to our winter
I think this will end up being the coldest and snowiest month and the key to our winter as a whole. It’s possible we could see 35% to 45% of our total snowfall happen in this month. Several bouts of arctic air plunging in from Canada are in my forecast as well. I believe that gives us above average odds of seeing a white Christmas in our area. A thick layer of snow cover may make it hard to recover and warm the rest of winter or at least cut into the warmth that will try to build the rest of the season though.
January: The cold hangs on
This month will be a struggle as we try to overcome the December that was. Snowfall should be near average — and temperatures will attempt to moderate some — but the layer of snow on the ground from December likely limits just how much we can warm.
February: Trying to warm
This is the month I expect to be the mildest. Snowfall will still be near average but temps should get a chance to recover and perhaps warm a bit above average. This would be quite a contrast to last February when we had a top ten coldest February on record. The 27 inches of snow in February 2019 was also the snowiest on record.
Snowfall: Watch for the late-season blast
I think the odds tilt to just above average snowfall in our area.
Average is roughly 26-32 inches across the area, but I think the best odds fall in the 32- to 40-inch snowfall range for this coming season.
December will likely be the snowiest month. January and February should be closer to average — but I think there will be one rather significant March snow as well.
Confidence in this year's winter outlook is lower compared to the last couple seasons due to weaker signals but that's how I see it playing out.
Now we wait...and watch!