Winter 2012-2013 Forecasts for Connecticut

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By Daniel Bittner on September 24, 2012, 11:10am

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Well, now that it is officially fall, one might be looking forward (or not) to this upcoming winter. In this wordy article I will show you not my thoughts, but the thoughts of others.

What do I mean by this? I mean that I will not make my own forecast for this winter, I will let Accuweather, The Old Farmer’s Almanac, and the Weather Centre forecast it for you!

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The first company to give its predictions is Accuweather.

These words are from Accuweather, “Following a snow drought during winter 2011-2012, the mid-Atlantic and southern New England will get a snow dump this winter.

Above-normal snowfall is forecast for the major I-95 cities, including New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C., during winter 2012-2013.

"The I-95 cities could get hit pretty good. It's a matter of getting the cold to phase in with the huge systems that we are going to see coming out of the southern branch of the jet stream this year," AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said.

The cold is expected to phase with the big storms during January and February with the potential for large snowstorms to make headlines and create travel headaches in the major cities.

On the other hand, the ski industry, which despite an early start for some resorts suffered a slow season overall last winter, will benefit from the above-normal snowfall.

Factors Behind the Above-Normal Snow Forecast
The presence of El Niño or La Niña - and their strength - is used to project how active the winter season is going to be. AccuWeather.com Long-Range meteorologists are projecting a weak to moderate El Niño by the fall.

An El Niño pattern is classified by above-normal water temperatures in the central and equatorial Pacific Ocean. Warming the ocean water in turn warms the air above the Pacific, causing weather patterns to change globally.

El Niño winters feature a strong southern branch of the jet stream across the U.S. When the strong southern jet stream phases with the northern branch of the jet stream (see graphic below), big storms can impact the East.

It should be noted that no two El Niños are the same. The strength of this phenomenon can mean a great deal for winter weather.

Furthermore, there are other factors that influence snowfall amounts for the winter. Enough cold air must meet with big East Coast storms for snow to fall in the I-95 corridor.

Blocking is a term that meteorologists in the Northeast use to describe areas of high pressure that dominate eastern Canada or Greenland at times during the winter, forcing cold air to reach to U.S.

"When blocking occurs, storms tend to slow their eastward progression off the East coast. You also get moist flow off the Atlantic to help enhance snowfall rates," AccuWeather.com Meteorologist Brian Edwards explained.” 

Well that sounds pretty good for snow lovers in Connecticut.

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The Old Farmer’s Almanac winter forecast

Here are the words from The Old Farmer’s Almanac winter predictions,

After a year of unprecedented warmth – both during the winter and summer months – the great debate over whether or not Old Man Winter will return with a vengeance is on.

Last winter was the fourth warmest for the contiguous 48 since record keeping began in 1895, with 24 states experiencing below-normal precipitation. In fact, California experienced its second driest winter ever. In only 10 states—chiefly across the nation’s midsection— was winter precipitation above normal.

The situation became critical this past spring and summer with broiling hot temperatures across much of the country and the most severe drought conditions the nation has seen in more than 50 years.

For the coming season, we’re predicting that winter will return to some – but not all – areas. We think it will be a “winter of contraries, as if Old Man Winter were cutting the country in half. The eastern half of the country will see plenty of cold and snow. The western half will experience relatively warm and dry condition. In other words, as in the political arena, the climate this winter will render us a nation divided.

We predict that real winter weather will return to areas from the Great Lakes into the Northeast. Most eastern states – as far south as the Gulf Coast – will see snowier than normal conditions and cooler temperatures.

We are “red flagging” February 12–15 and March 20–23 for major coastal storms along the Atlantic seaboard; storms bringing strong winds and heavy precipitation.

But on the other side of the country, winter will continue its hiatus for another year. The forecast for west of the Continental Divide – the Pacific Northwest, desert Southwest, Pacific Coast – calls for mild temperatures and below-normal precipitation.

For much of the drought-stricken prairie region, an average amount of winter precipitation will bring long awaited relief.

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And now for The Weather Centre’s Winter predictions,

“Precipitation-wise, one can expect a wet winter across the Gulf coast and Southwest, as the sub-tropical jet stream heralds in storms over and over again. It should be noted that there is an increased severe weather risk in the Southeast/Gulf Coast region this winter, as the jet stream combines with storm systems and Gulf air to produce strong thunderstorms, potentially on numerous occasions. Using analogs shown above, I did put a 'possible dry conditions' over the southern Ohio Valley, but I'm not confident in that just yet. The Northwest should remain dry due to a lack of incoming storm systems that have been displaced south. The Northeast and Mid-Atlantic will get their more-than-fair share of snow this winter, as countless storm systems barrel through the region and dump more and more snow. Should we see a pouring out of arctic air from Canada, the Great Lakes should end up snowy, thanks to lake-effect snowfall.

The snowfall forecast calls for a snowy time across the Great Lakes if Canadian arctic air is able to push down south and ignite the lake effect snowfall machines. The Northeast will be the hotspot this winter, as many Nor'easters push up the coast and create a chaotic scene in the worst storms. Due to the storm track entering the Southwest, skiing conditions should be better than normal in those areas, while the Northwest stays high and dry due to the lack of a storm track in the vicinity.”

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Well it looks good for snow lovers here in Connecticut. Well, I said I would not but, I guess I will do it. My opinion for this winter is leaning towards the cold and snowy side. Now I did not pick the forecast sites that only had a cold and snowy outlook. These sights are the three most popular sites that issue winter forecasts excluding NOAA and The Weather Channel.

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Daniel Bittner

Town: Madison, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since March 2012.

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