BOSTON (CBS) – There aren’t many headlines getting more clicks in New England than “Winter Forecast”.
I get it.
Winter is by far the most disruptive and life changing season in our region. And we all have our different interests and perspectives. For skiers, everything revolves around the snow in the north. For plow operators, a cold and snowy season can bring life-changing money. But for many of us, predicting a mild winter can take some of the stress out of the changing seasons.
Before I get into the National Weather Service (NOAA) winter forecast 2021-2022, I just have a few thoughts of my own. Winters here in New England have been (dare I say) a little easier to predict lately. Granted, there are a TON of atmospheric variables to consider, but in the end there are some things that almost seem like a barrier at this point.
First of all, at this point it is terribly difficult to imagine a winter that is colder than average. To predict a three month period (December to February) that is, on average, colder than normal, you would need to have some BIG evidence and MAJOR variables at play.
The last time we had a full meteorological winter that averaged below normal was 2017-2018, and it was barely below average (32.5 vs. 32.8). It’s been six years since we had a winter that was significantly colder than average.
I think we all remember winter 2014-2015 with record breaking snowfall. It’s just so hard to get a subpar month these days. Boston only had two – February and July – in 2021 and the rest are mostly way above average. The year 2021 in Boston is currently the warmest year ever recorded.
I could go on with the record breaking warm stats, but I think you get the point. To predict an above-average colder winter for 2021-2022, we would need to see some IMPORTANT, GROUNDBREAKING evidence of a significant global pattern shift.
That is currently hard to imagine. Perhaps the most important reason for this is the oceans. The most common and significant characteristic that the last few years and winters had in common is an overwhelmingly milder Atlantic and Pacific than the average. If you look at a map of sea temperature anomalies, almost all of the Atlantic and Pacific basins are yellow, orange, and red, with only a few blue “pools” (meaning cooler-than-average areas).
The most important area with cooler water is off the western South American coast. We call that La Nina. Sound familiar? We had almost the same setup last winter.
Against this background, it is currently difficult for me to predict anything other than an above-average mild winter (similar to last year). That doesn’t mean we won’t get cold spots and eruptions in the Arctic. It is inevitable.
Nor does this mean that we won’t get major snow events. An above-average mild winter does not always mean less snow. Winter snowfall is much more difficult to predict than winter temperatures. Snowfall is very moody. A few coastal storms that hit or miss can make the difference between above or below average snowfall times. However, we had three below average snowfalls in Boston, which is very rare.
So, in a way, you could say that we are “due”. However, this is not a smart way of making predictions. These things converge over time. However, our global climate is very different (warmer) than ever before. Comparing snowfall amounts and temperatures with past decades can therefore be dangerous and incorrect.
The official WBZ winter forecast will be released next month (but I think you can see which way we are headed). We will then have a lot more details about the coming winter.
Today we highlight NOAA’s winter forecast calling for milder temperatures in southern and eastern parts of the country, including New England.
You have an equal chance of above / below average rainfall in New England. They highlighted the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest as areas that tend to have above-average rainfall.
This is in line with our first thoughts on winter here in New England and across the country.
In the coming weeks we will be closely monitoring the development of the seasons. The weather at the end of October and November can often give us valuable insights into the coming winter.
In short, we’ve got you covered. Stay tuned for the full WBZ winter forecast in November!
Follow Terry on Twitter @TerryWBZ