ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has released its annual winter outlook. Among the many factors their forecasters considered was the high chance for La Nina conditions, with lower-than-average sea surface temperatures expected in the central Pacific. Believe it or not, this pattern has wide-ranging impacts on weather across the globe. In the U.S., we often see higher precipitation in the northern parts of the country and drier conditions across the south.
That is reflected in this outlook. For those in the Great Lakes region, including western and central New York, wetter-than-average conditions are slightly favored. The Pacific Northwest and parts of the Rocky Mountains are in the same boat. Meanwhile, for a wide swath of the southern US—from Southern California to Florida—drier than average conditions are favored. This will likely worsen the ongoing drought in those areas.
In terms of temperature, cooler-than-average conditions are favored for the Northwest and the Northern Plains. Warmer than average conditions are slightly favored across much of the south, as well as the entire Eastern Seaboard. Locally, that includes the Capital District, Mid-Hudson Valley, Southern Vermont, and Western Massachusetts.
NOAA specifically mentions that their outlook does not deal with snow totals. It is a forecast for averages over a three-month period, while the difference between rain and snow is highly dependent on smaller-scale weather patterns and can’t be predicted that far in advance. But we know that warmer weather lends itself to more precipitation falling as rain and, as a result, lower snowfall totals. It’s too soon to tell where we’ll wind up based on this outlook alone, but it could be seen as one data point in favor of slightly lower totals. An average winter in Albany brings 60 inches of snow. We’ll see where we land come springtime!
A final caveat—seasonal forecasting is notoriously difficult. It is hard enough to forecast for a week from now, let alone three months from now! Forecasters are looking at trends for the winter as a whole. There will always be cold snaps, warm-ups, snowy stretches, and dry spells. You still need to be prepared for anything everything this winter!