Monday, October 8, 2012

Heavier snow fall may be expected for the Northeast this winter

original story in USA TODAY

A forecast by AccuWeather expects a snowier than average winter for the 50 million Americans living in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic region.

The AccuWeather forecast predicts that the Northeast and mid-Atlantic will have more snow than they did last year, and cities such as New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington and Charlotte are among those that should receive more snow than usual.

Meanwhile, in the drought-scorched central and northern Plains and upper Midwest, the news isn’t good: Below-average snowfall and above-average temperatures are forecast. According to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor, 98% of Wyoming, Colorado, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska and Kansas are enduring drought conditions.  The dryness will extend into the Northwest, adding to drought worries there.

A weak El Niño climate pattern is expected to be one of the major drivers of the USA’s weather this winter, according to an AccuWeather meteorologist. While earlier forecasts said El Niño (a warming of Pacific Ocean water that affects weather around the world) would be moderately strong, it’s now expected to be weak.

One of the hallmarks of an El Niño winter is a stormy weather pattern for the southern tier of the USA, expected this year.

Across the South, the rain will be mostly welcome, but severe weather could be an issue.

Potent storms formed by the clashing of cooler air to the north and milder air farther south will act as the trigger for the severe weather, which could produce tornadoes, high winds and flash flooding.

A snowy winter in the Northeast would be a dramatic switch from last year: During the winter of 2011-12, New York City received only 7.4 inches of snow, far below its typical total of just over 2 feet. Washington shoveled a paltry 2 inches, well below the city’s average 14.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

For the early part of the winter, the unusually warm Atlantic Ocean water should moderate the cold shots of air blowing in from the west, which also would reduce snowfall. However, later in the winter, as the water cools, there is the potential for big snowstorms in the Northeast.

January and Februay will be the best chance for the big snowstorms.