As we approach the climatological coldest time of the year, much of local talk centers around the weather. Why, since the Halloween weekend storm, have we only had one measurable snowfall in December for the Pawling area, and none for the NYC area? Since 1860, weather records for NYC have shown only three Decembers that had no recorded measurable snow. As of January 21st (and yes, it’s snowing), no additional significant snows are expected through the end of this month.
The question that always comes up in conversation is how long can we go without snow? For some people like myself, a true weather weenie and one time snow lover, I’m happy that I do not have to make the long drive to work in snow and ice covered roads. For the skier, and businesses that rely on snow for income, as well as most school age kids, it’s been tremendously disappointing.
Why has this winter gone this way? Is it global warming? No. Is it the 11-year solar cycle? No. To this point, the configuration of the jet stream (steering winds aloft) has not allowed any east coast storms to develop and looking down the road, it appears this pattern may continue through most of January. I can recall many winters in the 70’s where snow was sparse, so while it’s unusual, it’s not unprecedented. After the near record breaking snow we had last year, what makes this season unusual is that we are in a typical La Nina year (colder sea surface temperatures in the Pacific Ocean). More snow storms usually occur in the northeast, not less.
What is the outlook for the rest of the winter season? Since I have a 50/50 chance of being correct, I would expect the pattern to change late this month, so the snow lovers amongst us will not be totally denied.