It’s that time of year! Jill and I have been working on predicting the upcoming winter for the past few weeks, and we are ready to reveal the outlook:
Our forecast is calling for a warmer than average winter with above average snowfall. We think the three month average temperature will end up about 4 degrees above average with 100-120” of snow for the City of Utica. The average snowfall for Utica is 95.6”. Our forecast is based on a weak La Niña and the much warmer than average temperature of the Great Lakes.
As we head into the winter it’s worth taking a look back at the fall. The warm, dry weather we’ve enjoyed was, in part, caused by the prevailing weather and jet stream pattern influenced by La Niña. La Niña is the counterpart of its brother, El Niño. La Niña occurs when the sea surface temperature across the Eastern Pacific Ocean drops below normal.
La Niña affects the weather in the winter. The jet stream set ups right over the Great Lakes and northeast, creating a conveyor belt for moisture and a path for storm system. In addition, with a stormy season, there are opportunities for cold front to slide in from Canada, bringing in cold temperatures as well as many opportunities for lake effect snow.
Speaking of lake effect snow, we think this year will be a particularly active year. The lakes are much warmer than average going into the winter, and the jet stream favors an early onset of cold weather. This combination gives us the chance of having a very busy season. Could we have a historic event in the mix? There’s no way to tell this far in advance, but the odds are better than usual this time around. We’ll see.
When we look at years similar to the upcoming winter, we do find similarities.
Winter Snowfall Temp
2008 2009 104.8 -0.7
2005 2006 106.8 2.4
1996 1997 123.5 3.8
1983 1984 85.3 2.8
1974 1975 97.7 3.2
Four of the five years saw near to above average snowfall, with four of the five years significantly warmer than average.