Storm Team 2017-18 Winter Outlook

What to expect this winter?

SYRACUSE (WSYR-TV) - The Storm Team is forecasting slightly above normal snowfall and near normal temperatures in Central New York for the upcoming winter.

The key factors in the winter forecast were 1) a weak La Nina 2) an active season in the tropical Atlantic 3) a very wet October

La Nina flexes its muscle in the Pacific Ocean:

The La Nina pattern is characterized by cooler than normal waters in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. This has been showing up over the last few months and the forecast is for it to stick around into the upcoming winter.

The mean jet stream is fairly amplified during a La Nina winter, with a ridge of high pressure up near Alaska, then the jet dropping south into the Rockies and working east through the Ohio Valley. The Storm Team sees a pattern shaping up with an active storm track, but one that produces not only snow events, but mixed precipitation events as well. That means some storms starting out as snow, but changing to sleet and freezing rain.


Tropical Connection:

The next thing that caught our attention was the active tropical season in the Atlantic Ocean. As of early November the number of named storms is 17. In general, there is a tendency for Syracuse to have greater seasonal winter snowfalls as the number of tropical systems increases.

Turn on the Spigots:

Finally, we looked at particularly wet Octobers.  This year we went over 6” for October thanks to over three inches of heavy rain in the last few days of the month.  When we get a wet October like we just had, we tend to have above normal seasonal snow.

Lake Ontario Wild Card:

With the warm weather this Fall, Lake Ontario’s temperature has been consistently above normal. Late in October there was even a stretch where the lake temperature was running 5 to 6 degrees above normal.  

As we make this winter forecast, Lake Ontario’s temperature has backed off, but is still a couple of degrees above normal. This means the potential is there for for more lake effect snow to fall this winter.

So here are the bullet points:

-We expect near normal temperatures in Central New York for the winter months (December-February) but some variability with warm stretches, but also bouts of arctic air. 

-Snowfall will probably be just a bit above normal in the 125”-140” range.

-More lake effect snow than normal this winter.

-There will be more storms that give us a mix of precipitation: starting out as snow, then going over to sleet and freezing rain.

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