National Weather Service forecasts a 42 percent chance of a ‘warmer-than-normal’ winter

Fog rolls in as rain falls on snow near the reflection pool at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs in 2018.
Fog rolls in as rain falls on snow near the reflection pool at Saratoga Spa State Park in Saratoga Springs in 2018.

While temperatures are expected to dip to near freezing in Schenectady Saturday, meteorologists are still predicting the Capital Region may experience a warmer-than-normal winter this year.

The Capital Region has a 42 percent chance of a “warmer-than-normal” winter, a 33 percent chance of “near-normal,” and a 25 percent chance of being “cooler-than-normal,” according to meteorologist Andrei Evbuoma at the National Weather Service in Albany.  But, Evbuoma said, these chances are only tilting slightly toward a warmer season.

“The last time we had cold winters [was] back in 2013-2014 and 2014-2015,” Evbuoma said. “Outside of that, winters of recent have been mild here in the Capital Region.”

On Friday, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shared its overall winter 2020-2021 forecast, which shows “cooler and wetter conditions” in the North, due to the ongoing La Nina, and “drier conditions” across the southern tier of the U.S.

“With La Nina well established and expected to persist through the upcoming 2020 winter season, we anticipate the typical, cooler, wetter North, and warmer, drier South, as the most likely outcome of winter weather that the U.S. will experience this year,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center.

This “cooler-than-normal” weather, however, will hit states like Washington, with upstate New York likely seeing “warmer-than-normal” temps, according to the NOAA outlook map.

“We are in a La Nina now and that is expected to persist through the entire winter

season,” Evbuoma said. “The north-central U.S. typically is most favored to see a cooler than normal winter in a La Nina. It’s worth noting however that all La Nina’s are different due to other very important intra-seasonal variables such as the Madden Jullian Oscillation, Arctic Oscillation, North Atlantic Oscillation, etc. as well as blocking patterns. These variables and the overall synoptic setup will dictate how a season turns out. Due to the chaotic nature of weather/climate is why we issue these probabilistic forecasts. That’s why there’s a 25% chance for things to be cooler than normal and 33% chance near normal.”

In terms of when we can expect snow this year, Evbuoma said there are no models or indications that can point to an exact time.

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