Winter 2016-2017 Forecast Long Island
Winter 2016-2017 Forecast Long Island
Colder Than Average
Near Average Snowfall
Ii is time to put up my Winter 2016-2017 forecast Long Island. Seasonal forecasts are always difficult since you are asked to give a view of a three or 4 month time frame and there is really no way to be specific. In a average year there would be 1 snowfall of 6 inches or more peppered with a number of smaller snowfalls. Of course there is always the chance every winter of at least 1 major snowfall of 1 foot or more. During the last 16 or so winters Long Island has been hit with a large number of major snowfalls. In some winters we have seen 2 or even 3 snowfalls of 12 inches or more. And we have seen several snowfalls over the last 16 years that have produced mega amounts of 2 to 3 feet.
WINTER 2016-2017 THE CASE FOR A COLDER THAN NORMAL WINTER
The state of the atmosphere right now points to colder than normal conditions. We have no EL Nino and only weak La Nina conditions in the Pacific. The polar vortex in the upper atmosphere is extremely weak. A weak polar vortex in the highest levels of the atmosphere means warm air covers the polar regions which means cold air is displaced southward into Canada and into the East.
WINTER 2016-2017 GREENLAND BLOCK
This volatile feature which has been virtually absent in the last 4 winters looks to make an appearance this winter. The index has been negative for much of October and is forecast to remain negative for the start of November. This suggests a higher probability of colder air being displaced southward from Eastern Canada.
WINTER 2016-2017 PACIFIC OCEAN
Here the indexes are rather mixed at the moment. The dominance of the Pacific Jet stream and where it is with respect to other features can at times displace warm air northward and this part of the equation remains in flux at the moment.
WINTER 2016-2017 SIBERIAN SNOW COVER
Siberian snow cover has been the new “go to” indicator and it has been successful in non el nino years in forecasting colder winters in the Eastern US. This index finished at its second highest level in the last 12 years and is on par with the winters of 2014-15, and 2013-14, both of which produced colder than normal winters with snowfalls more than double the average snowfall of 25 to 35 inches. Below is the map of snowfall departures in the winter of 2014-15. During the three months December-February snowfall was 30 inches above normal.
Given all this I am forecasting below average temperatures for the 4 month period of December through March on the order of 2 to 3 degree below normal. Average temperatures from December through February (high and low divided by 2) are on the order of about 34 degrees.
WINTER 2016-2017 OCEAN WATER TEMPERATURES
The ocean plays a big role in Long Island snowfall as it tends to lessen it during the early part of the winter and then it tends to be higher once water temperatures catch up to the atmosphere. Early snowfalls on Long Island tend to come when the weather setup wedges cold air to the point where it negates the warm ocean. Right now water temperatures are running in the upper 50s to lower 60s which is a little above normal but within the range of 1degree or so from average. We will watch to see how these water temperatures cool over the next few weeks. Last year water temperatures were in the 60s in December which was incredibly warmer than normal. We do not have that huge anomaly this year.
WINTER 2016-2017 SNOWFALL FORECAST
Forecasting total snowfall is difficult because you can have a colder winter but it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be a snowier winter. The drought pattern remains unbroken despite some signs that the pattern might be on the verge of easing somewhat. Persistence here is causing me to to forecast normal snowfall totals of 25 to 35 inches across Long Island which would be an average year. If the drought pattern eases then we would feel more comfortable adjusting those numbers higher.
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