Winter weather forecast: How much snow will it fall this year in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware
PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — This winter in the Delaware Valley, we know that El Niño will be the biggest player and that temperatures will likely be above average when you look at the three months as a whole.
However, the big question becomes: Can we, on occasion, get some buffers to set up, allowing enough cold air and a favorable storm track on the East Coast to get us near or above normal snowfall?
If we never see or take advantage of this blocking, it will be another useless winter. But if we can get two or three storms that each dump 4 to 6 inches, we will be near our average snowfall. As with most of these predictions, this is not an obvious solution.
We’ve been in a snow drought recently, with below-average snowfall in four of the past five winters.
And it was warm.
Temperatures have been above average in three of the past five winters. Last year was ranked the fifth hottest year on record. Why? In large part because of La Niña.
But this winter will be different.
Instead of La Niña, we will be dealing with the opposite – moderate to strong El Niño. This is warming the waters of the tropical Pacific Ocean off the coast of South America.
But not all El Niños are the same. Where the warmest waters are located off the coast of South America, they are in the east of the country. When the warmest waters are offshore, toward the central Pacific, it is called the central norm.
This is important because the location of El Niño can lead to different weather patterns across the United States
In the El Niño event that occurs in the east of the country, which we are currently experiencing, you typically see a lot of mild Pacific air moving quickly across the country.
When you have a more central El Niño, the jet stream is able to slow down allowing larger storms to form. It is possible to move from one type of El Niño to another during the winter, and that is something we will be monitoring.
Based on the current setup, we expect the Pacific jet to dominate in early winter, bringing storms and moderate temperatures to much of the United States, while the Polar jet is under lock and key to our north.
By late January and February, we may see further blocking pattern development, increasing the chances of polar and tropical jets converging, threatening the Northeast.
Here are the letter points
While we will see some cold snaps, we expect milder air to prevail. With an active storm track nearby, precipitation will be above normal.
The first part of winter appears to be mild and wet. Late winter will give us our best chance for a wintry mix or snow.
In an effort to use history as a guide to the future, we looked at several other strong El Niño winters. Snowfall totals range from the snowiest to the least snowy winters. Just a trace in 1972-1973 to more than six feet in 2009-2010. It was a wildcard pattern thanks to El Niño.
Frankly, this gives us relatively low confidence in our snowfall forecast. The majority of these totals will fall into two or three larger storms, which could result in a near-average winter.
Here in Philadelphia, we expect 18-24 inches of snow and 30-36 inches in the Lehigh Valley. Along the coast, we expect about 12-18 inches of snow.
No matter what Mother Nature brings us this winter, the AccuWeather team will be there to keep you safe and prepared.
(Tags for translation)Winter weather forecast