This winter outlook is for Northern and Northeastern NJ.
Things I will be looking at to put this forecast together :
Keep these factors in mind when we get to the actual forecast
1. La Nina – Strength/East Based VS West based
West based La Nina is when the coldest waters are in the western regions of the NINA/NINO zones in the Pacific. A west based la Nina typically torches to east coast as it places a ridge over the SE US and sends storms systems well to the west, over the Great Lakes leading to us being on the warm , eastern and rainy side of storm systems. The stronger the La Nina the stronger the ridge and the warmer the winter
East Based is when the coldest waters are in the eastern NINA regions of the Pacific , this leads to a ridge weaker and farther south or non-existent depending on strength of the La Nina event
2. PDO WARM PHASE VS COLD PHASE
Just keep in mind that we are now in a cold phase which typically lasts 20-30 years also if you around in the 50s and 70s , we were in a cold phase which lead to some of the nastiest and snowiest winters on record. This means that for the next 20-30 years there’s a better chance for colder snowier winters. We entered the cold phase in 2008 and look back at the winters of 2009-2010 and 2010-2011
3. NAO AND AO- The pattern supports these to remain dominantly negative through the winter months. Also keep in mind that the NAO is the biggest influence on the winter pattern over the NE United States
This is what a -NAO and AO lead to which is a trough over the east coast allowing arctic outbreaks to come south and lead to below average temperatures as well as set the stage for coastal storms and nor’easters and the cold needed for them to provide snow/ice.
4. PNA- The PNA looks to be neutral to positive which means a ridge in the Western US and a trough in the eastern US which also sets the stage for coastal storms
5. I will be looking at some of the natures signs also.
So lets dive in and see what all this means for the Winter of 2011-2012!!!!
1. La Nina is going to be east based which typically leads to slightly below normal temps and average snowfall without the -NAO and AO factored in
2. The PDO is in a cold phase which means a better chance of a bitter winter
3. NAO and AO look to be slightly negative through the winter which provides the cold air needed for snow
4. The PNA looks to be neutral to positive through the winter which drives storms from the Pacific NW SE to the Gulf of Mexico and then up the East Coast
5. If you noticed , the squirrels tails are very big and bushy this fall which tells us the animals are expecting a bad winter
Walking my dog the last few days I’ve been looking around at the trees and a lot of trees are already reaching peak foliage (about 2-3 weeks early)
6. We have an enhanced southern and northern Jet stream with very active and dynamic storms ( thus the 40 inches of rain we got in the last 2.5 months)
So based on these factors it makes me very happy being I am a snow lover
If you are south and east of I95 you are not going to like what im going to say next though.
Being the NAO is only going to be weakly negative it is looking like the dominant storm track will be right along the coast which drives in warmer air off the Atlantic into coastal regions and thus you will have to deal with snow to rain storms very often this winter if you are SE of I95.
I95 looks to be on the border line , so the cities of NYC Philly may have to deal with the mix line a lot this winter, especially later in January and February. So I expect a decent a decent amount of slushy and sloppy storms along I95 ESPECIALLY in February so I am very concerned about Ice storms this winter season for I95 and within 30 miles west as the NAO will be negative so we will have the cold needed for these storms to be wintry but maybe not all snow with every storm.
The last 2 years the NAO was deeply negative which lead to tracks well off the coast which secured all our storms to be all snowstorms , I don’t expect that this year mid January on through February. I AM NOT saying there wont be any all snowstorms in February but I think many of the storms will be sloppy Snow to rain or snow to ice storms for I95 or just ice storms. I don’t see many if any all rainstorms this winter season for I95 and NW. Most of the forecast area Union , Morris , Somerset, Passaic counties and the rest of the forecast region is NW of I95.
I think December into early January will be our best chance for all snowstorms before turning more icy and slushy by February.
Month by month break down
December : Brutal cold with temps 2-4 degrees below normal and well above normal snowfall. I think we see our first real snowstorm well before Christmas and I do think there will be a very good chance of a white Christmas and holiday season!! Lat year we missed it by 1 day and got 32 inches on December 26th. I expect this month to be the best chance of storms taking a classic nor’easter track giving the area all snow storms and I expect several clipper like systems with those 1-3 and 2-4 inch snowstorms. I expect a dominant Miller A or nor’easter like storm track this month
January – I expect the month to start off very cold and snowy before perhaps a small January thaw mid to late month , im not expecting any big thaw this year as La Nina will be weak and the SE ridge will be weak but there may be a day or 2 where its above normal. I expect temperatures to end up being 1-3 degrees below normal and above average snow. I’m concerned about ice storms and slop storms later in the month as the SE ridge influences our weather slightly more and brings the storm track right along the coast or over the forecast area.
I also expect Miller B storms later in the month , which are storms that track towards the Great Lakes but then transfer to the coast due to a -NAO and leads to rain changing to snow or all snow. These Miller B storms are very hard to forecast and something that we will have to predict when that time comes
February – I expect the active pattern to continue with plenty of storms. I expect mainly ice and slop storms this month , but I expect at least one all snowstorm later in the month that could be very big. I am very concerned about Ice storms this month also. Temps I expect to be around average to slightly above average and I expect average snowfall. Also an other month where Miller B storms may be the snow makers.
March – I think winter will continue this month with perhaps a late season snowfall and a very cold and active month with slightly above average snowfall especially towards the beginning of the month before spring takes over later in March
Some storms will be very dynamic and strong this winter
So with all these factors I expect
Several to numerous clipper systems with small to moderate snowfalls throughout the entire winter
3-4 major snowstorms – 4+ inches
1-2 blizzards 15+ inches of snow these are the dynamic storms
2-4 Major Ice storms (freezing rain and or sleet)
Overall for Northern NJ I expect 36-48 inches of snowfall this winter. I know that’s a pretty big spread and that’s because 1 storm can ruin the whole snowfall forecast , such as the December 26th 2010 blizzard that bought 32 inches in 1 day
So in summary
I expect the worst of winters snow and cold to be December through Mid January
I expect slop, slushy and ice storms Late January through February with a few all snow storms mixed in especially mid to late February
A small January thaw
Maybe 1 or 2 all rainstorms but not many
Overall I expect this winter to be below average in temperatures and well above normal in to snowfall category and very active with storm after storm after storm.
I am going to do a revision and an actual forecast by November 15th as I will have a much better feel for the pattern by then. I am also going to make maps for this update
LET IT SNOW!!!