2020 Wintercast: What will this winter look like in Central PA?


(WTAJ) — This year there is likely going to be a moderate to strong La Nina.

Normally an easterly flow of water in the equatorial pushes warmer water toward Asia keeping our side of the Pacific a little cooler. In a La Nina year, these trade winds are stronger and cool water spreads across the equator. The result helps to promote cool wet weather for the Northwest and dry, warm weather to the south.

The correlation for La Nina is not quite as strong here in Central PA. This leaves us open to the other influences. Including what happens in other ocean locations and comparing them to similar setups from the past. The similar, analog years that I found for this winter include 2015,2010, and 2007.

There were other similar setup years, but frankly the oceans are much warmer now than decades ago which makes comparisons impossible.

Snow and ice in Siberia and Canada both play a big role in the growth of winter’s cold. Snowcover in the northern hemisphere grew fast which gave us our early November chilly,but has since stalled. This may limit arctic blasts this year. Lastly, water temperatures off of the east coast factor in our big storm potential. The core of the warmth seems offshore so the big coastal storm potential is smaller.

So let’s break this down to your wintercast.

I’m expecting December to be a touch bit above average, but not as warm as last year. There may be a push of cold closer Christmas.

January is the month that it seems like we will have our best chance for a week or so of what would be considered a pretty good cold snap. It will be significantly colder than last January but still a few degrees above average.

We’re going to have a lot of ups and downs in February. While we proably will have another brief spell of cold, it’s likely going to be the warmest month of winter compared to average.

March may not be as warm as last year, but it’s going to be a bit warmer than average.

It’s impossible to forecast a single amount of snow as we normally have a wide variety of snowfall across Central Pennsylvania. This year I believe most storms are going to cut to our west which usualy brings us a snow or wintry mix followed by a warm up. This won’t leave snow on the ground for too long this winter, but having more wintry mixes than usual can cause havoc on some travel. When we do get those cold blasts, it will help with snow over the Laurel Highlands, but I believe we will all finish with below average snowfall. Totals will range as low 10” in the deeper valleys to the east with some of the Laurel Highlands getting up to 80”.

Here is my forecast of the impacts to you. Utility bills will be below average but slightly higher than last year. Salt demand will be about average and a little more than year thanks to the mixed events. We’re probably going to have less travel issues again this year, but where will be some icy events. Last year there were virtually no school disruptions and I’m not not seeing many this year either.

Finally, I will leave you again with a couple of bold predictions for the upcoming winter. I think we will get one, maybe two big storms of 6″ or more. Also we’re going to have a lot of mixed precipitation and thaws that may cause some headaches on the roads but limit days with snow on the ground. Also, here are a couple of bonus bold predictions. I believe the winter will finish in the top 10 warmest winters and in the top 20 for the least snowy winters. In other words, I don’t believe it will be a harsh winter.

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February 07 2021 06:30 pm

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