“Grab Your Gloves! Fetch Your Fleece! Winter is going to be a season of flip-flop conditions with notable polar coaster swings in temperatures!” – Farmer’s Almanac
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — We have just one more night of heat and humidity around here, but let’s take a minute to cool down. I mean way down, like winter cool down. Yes, we’re going to talk about winter for a second. The season is still 130 days away as of this writing, but it’s the time of year where the Farmer’s Almanac comes out with their annual winter outlook for the U.S.
Summer is still very much in full swing, but it’s definitely something fun to look at. They’re calling for a “frosty flip-flop winter.” What exactly does that mean for us in Western New York and the Northeast?
Here’s a quick summary on what they had to say:
The Northeast and New England will have a “typical winter chill, a stormy January, and a tranquil February.”
- Winter’s chill will start off slow with a mild January before trending colder by winter’s end.
- Winter temperatures overall are expected to range from near normal to somewhat below normal across the eastern-third of the nation.
- In terms of snow totals expect near normal amounts of snow from coast to coast, but maybe not as much as winter sport enthusiasts would prefer with notable month to month variations.
- The Atlantic seaboard will be stormy with an abundance of precipitation types; all that include rain, sleet, and snow.
- Potent winter storms are likely for the Great Lakes and the Northeast during the second week of January, the final week of February, and second week of March on account of bursts of heavy snow, rain, or a wintry mix.
- They go on to say that they’re forecasting a “winter whopper” for parts of the Northeast towards the end of February.
- March precipitation looks normal and uneventful, but when it does storm it will mean business. They are also calling for a Nor’easter by March’s end.
In my professional opinion, that for sure sounds like a lot of flip-flopping to have going on this winter, and that’s just about the Northeast!
However, I would personally like to point out that even though The Farmer’s Almanac can be correct in their prognosticating, it’s really not possible to predict what the second week of January will hold in terms of how snowy, stormy, or even how cold it’ll be. It’s just not something we’re capable of doing with any true type of accuracy.
Precipitation type and totals in any given storm system depends on the track of the storm at the time, and the temperature profile and dynamics going on within the system. Not to mention the ground temperatures can turn any falling rain into freezing rain if cold enough.
The point I’m trying to make here is that we live in a unique area where any forecast can be skewed because of local discrepancies and of course, our Great Lakes. If lake effect snow bands decide to plop over us more than another town, then we could end up with some last minute surges in snow totals. Living around here, you know how it goes.
What we can do is start getting clues based on previous winters and perhaps how summers similar to ones in our past affected our upcoming winter if at all. If anything it’s just fun to see what numbers we can pull up, and if we can make an educated, scientific correlation, great!
According to the Climate Prediction Center there’s a 70% chance of La Nina persisting into the winter months of November through January. What does that mean? It could mean a milder and wetter pattern, perhaps similar to what we had last winter.
According to the CPC, the three month outlook for probability of having above average temperatures for December, January and February is 30-40%. The same outlook for probability of having above average, below average or normal precipitation is EC, which means equal chances of any of those outcomes. Basically, this far ahead of the game there isn’t any lean towards one or the other.
Bottom line, long-range forecasting is not an exact science, but we can use clues such as teleconnections, statistics or other climate signals to make generalized predictions.
Forecasts change because the weather changes every day. It’s a domino affect that keeps on going. Any stray from the forecast will cause a ripple in every other forecast going forward, so in order to have the utmost accuracy, keeping up to date with minor changes can make all the difference in providing the most accurate forecast for an area.
I think it’s super fun, but I wouldn’t necessarily start making plans revolving solely on this forecast. Keep an eye out in a few months, and we may have our own outlook produced courtesy of the News 8 Weather Team.
~Meteorologist Christine Gregory