when to expect snow and storms
What’s in store for New York City in the winter: Many are wondering if it will experience extreme weather with lots of snow and storms. Or will it be a more normal winter with average amounts of snow? And, of course, everyone is interested in when the first snow will fall in New York.
Fox5ny looked at all the factors it studied to make its forecasts and answered common questions about the 2023-2024 winter season in the tri-state area (New York, New Jersey and Connecticut).
How winter in New York is affected by El Niño or La Niña
What is El Niño? When choosing components for making a long-term forecast, we must pay attention to weather conditions around the world. It is also important to study what happened in the past to see if we can apply it to the future. One of the main components is the El Niño-Southern Oscillation, or ENSO.
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In the modern world, when sea surface temperatures in the eastern Pacific Ocean are above average, it is called the El Niño phase. South American fishermen first noticed periods of unusually warm water in the Pacific Ocean back in the 1600s and gave the phenomenon the name El Niño, or “little boy.”
What is La Niña? When sea surface temperatures are colder than average, the phase is called La Niña. The last four winters have been in the La Niña phase, but we have now entered the El Niño phase, which results in a stronger subtropical jet stream.
This could lead to drier and warmer weather from the Northwest to the Midwest, cooler and wetter conditions in the southern states, and wetter than average conditions in the East Coast and Northeast. The coming winter is likely to bring a strong El Niño.
What happened in New York in past El Niño winters?
- 2015-2016: One major snowstorm brought a record 70 cm of snow in January, but little snow fell the rest of the winter.
- 2009-2010: Several snowstorms resulted in a total of 93 cm of snow.
- 1997-1998: During one snowstorm, which only happened in March, only 12 cm of snow fell.
- 1982-1983: Several storms resulted in a total of 54 cm of snow falling over the winter.
The oscillations can be explained by two more components – the polar vortex and the NAO, or North Atlantic Oscillation.
What is a polar vortex? The northern polar vortex keeps arctic air in Canada while the intermittent vortex brings cold air south.
NAO is the pressure difference in the Atlantic Ocean. The negative phase occurs with weak low and high pressure in the Eastern Atlantic forming a block. Cold air is pushed south, resulting in severe snowstorms along the East Coast.
The positive phase promotes the formation of a more northerly jet stream, leading to warmer conditions and light snowfall. The polar vortex and NAO can only be accurately predicted a few weeks in advance, but each phase can last several weeks.
Forecast for winter 2023-2024. in NYC
With a strong El Niño expected, winter in the US will be warmer than usual. NOAA predicts above-average temperatures for much of the northern and central U.S., with near-average temperatures in the South. In terms of precipitation, above-average amounts are expected in the South, also on the East Coast and Northeastern states, and drier than average in the northern Rockies and Great Lakes.
How cold can it get in the New York City area? Will there be a flood this winter?
Temperatures in the Tri-State will be above average for much of the winter, with no extreme cold or snow expected from December through mid-January. Historically, the first noticeable snow falls in the New York City area around December 13th. The earliest noticeable snow was on October 29, 2011, when 5 cm fell a few days before Halloween.
The really cold spells won’t arrive until late January through February, and that’s when most of the snow will fall. With a strong El Niño, a few nor’easters are possible, but many of them will likely be borderline rain/snow events for New York and coastal areas.
This is where we will see what role the polar vortex and NAO will play in transporting cold air. With luck, one or more coastal storms could bring heavy snow to the city.
How much snow will fall in New York and the coast this winter?
New York City and the coast could see 40 to 60 cm of snow this winter. This is slightly below the average of 70 centimeters. In the northern and western regions, 60 to 115 centimeters of snow may fall.