Welcome to my 2021 / 2022 Winter Outlook. As many of you know, THIS is my favorite time of the year. We will answer questions such as,
“Will it be a cold winter”?
“Will it snow heavily”?
What I can tell you is as always, we will see a multitude of conditions throughout the winter season. This year we should once again get familiar with the phrase “La Nina”.
Let me dig in and I hope you enjoy!!
What is La Nina?
La Niña is a weather pattern that occurs in the Pacific Ocean. In this pattern, strong winds blow warm water at the ocean’s surface from South America to Indonesia. As the warm water moves west, cold water from the deep rises to the surface near the coast of South America.
So... How will this Impact Our Winter?
This could mean a very stormy winter for the Hudson Valley, New York City, Long Island, New Jersey, and Connecticut region.
I anticipate mixed events near and along the coast- NJ and LI. For those inland, expect more snow as usual.
The strongest signals from La Niña are with temperature. On the whole, La Niña winters result in warmer-than-average winters in NYC and this is the official forecast from NOAA for this winter.
Six out of the nine La Niña winters had above average temperatures and two of those winters ranked in the top 10 warmest.
The average winter temperature for NYC is 35.1 degrees. The average temperature for a La Niña winter in NYC is 35.9 degrees. With a warmer-than-average winter expected, you may think that would also mean a low snow year, but that might not be the case.
NOW, Let’s explore the snow stats for La Niña winters in NYC.
Let it Snow??
I agree with the Accuweather winter forecast as being closest to how I expect winter to end up.
The snowfall numbers for La Niña winters may surprise you. Even though we are normally warmer in a La Niña winter, snowfall can be above normal due to the size and strength of storms, when they hit just right and meet up with the polar vortex descending down from Canada
The average snowfall for NYC in a typical winter is 25.1″. The average snowfall for La Niña winters is 39.2″. On the surface, it seems like a closed case: La Niña equals a snowy winter for NYC.
When we look closer, though, we find that the small sample size can yield deceiving results. Five out of the nine winters in the study did result in above normal snowfall, but one winter was an anomaly.
In the winter of 2010-11, we had 63″ of snow. That’s the third-most for NYC. That winter skews the snowfall average greatly. If we eliminate the La Niña year with the most snow and the La Nina year with the least snow (8.1″ in 1988-89), we get an adjusted average of 24.5″.
So what are my Thoughts?
Our region will see wide fluctuations of both temps and snowfall.
When blocking is not in place, the storm tracks are focused further north producing more ice and rainfall events.
I foresee drastic swings in temperatures from well above normal to well below normal temperatures.
- Dec– Temps Below Normal
- Jan– Starts off cold, then temps go above normal
- Feb– Back down we go and we stay cold until Mid Feb
- March– Warm start and cold finish. But sun angles are higher during march so snow has trouble accumulating.
So, for winter 2021-22, snowfall will likely average near to slightly above normal.
- NYC– Average Snowfall
- Westchester & Rockland– Slightly Above Average Snowfall
- Northern NJ– Slightly Above Average Snowfall
- Central NJ– Average to Slightly Above Average Snowfall
- Southern NJ– Below Average Snowfall
- Long Island– Average to Slightly Below Average Snowfall
- Connecticut– Slightly Above Average Snowfall