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It’s that time of year again when weathermen and women around the country try to forecast how much snow and cold their respective cities will receive this upcoming winter. Although it may seem that many people just pick a number out of a hat and go with that as their snow total or look at a similar years and draw exact parallels between now and then, there is actually a complex science behind long-range forecasting.

Recently, you may have seen reports in the news about the upcoming winter season, how much snow we could see, and how cold it will be. Over the next couple of weeks, you will most likely hear more about it as all sorts of people provide their thoughts and explanations as to what may happen. You may even hear some of the following terms: El Niño vs La Niña, ENSO, Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies, AMO, AO, PNA, ONI, PDO, EPO and many more. 

Many of these hemispheric cycles are crucial to understanding what may happen down the road, but there is no one single formula for creating a long-range forecast. However, I’m not going to overwhelm you with information that is unnecessary for you to understand what I believe we will see during the winter months. I will briefly go over what I expect these variables to lead to in terms of winter weather.

After analyzing these factors, I am expecting this winter to feature above-normal snowfall and below average temperatures. Currently, we are in a slightly-above normal temperature pattern, but I expect that to change after Thanksgiving as there are indications that our pattern will flip towards the colder side by the end of the month. Now, this isn’t to say that we will see boat loads of snow come the first week of December, but the chances of an earlier start to the winter season are higher than average. The cold will persist into the new year while snow chances also increase. I do think that we see a brief thaw in January where temperatures relax and we could see more average or slightly above average temperatures before falling back into winter’s wrath.

Summary

  • This winter will be significantly colder than last year’s
  • Winter will also start early this year (as early as late November in the coldest spots to early December)
  • More likely to see a brief thaw in the month of January as the pattern reloads, but if the ingredients align correctly, it may stay cold the entire winter
  • More frequent storms rather than a couple big ones
  • An early start to Spring with warming occurring by the beginning of March

Philadelphia will likely see between 25 and 30 inches of snow this winter season. The average snowfall for the city is 22 inches. In fact, if you’re in Philly for the holidays, I don’t think a White Christmas is out of the question!

Temperature & Snowfall Outlook

Month Temperatures Snowfall
December Below Average Above Average
January Below Average Above Average
February Average Average
March Slightly Above Average Below Average

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