Winter Weather Outlook 

With the holidays right around the corner, we already had our first treats of the year. Our first snowfall was on Halloween, but does Mother Nature have any more tricks up her sleeve?We were definitely tricked last year with relatively bare grounds and abnormally warm conditions, but why? In the eastern Pacific Ocean, the waters were warmer than average and El-Nino played a big role in our weather.Mike Cantin, a Warning Coordination Meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Caribou, weighed in on last year’s abnormality. “The El-Nino was definitely an impact, where a strong jet stream was down to the south, over the Mid-Atlantic. That helped to carve out and move storm systems that would typically impact the northeastern United States, and moved them to the south and east before we could get much of a cold weather impact.”When you take a look at the atmospheric set up last year, there was a large difference between the eastern and western part of the United States. A strong ridge kept the west warm and quiet last year, while the east was cold and extremely busy. Also, the axis of the jet stream fell from the Canadian Praries to Louisiana. Therefore, the cold air was held to the west of Maine, allowing warmer air to penetrate the region last winter. Also, the jet stream dipped into the Gulf of Mexico and rode up the east coast. Therefore, storms that develop had two sources of moisture to work with. Additionally, the storm track was to our south. That’s why “snowmaggedon” was over the Mid-Atlantic rather than New England, but this year will be much different.”This year we are seeing not only a change from El-Nino to La-Nina, but some of those oscillations are beginning to wane down as well. All signals are pointing to a more active winter season,” added Cnatin.The NAO, or North Atlantic Oscillation, will be in the negative phase this year. In other words, a strong high pressure cell will anchor over Greenland for a majority of the winter season. Therefore, the cold air that was west of us last year will shift back east. Temperatures this winter will be around average, but since we experienced our second warmest winter on record last year, this year will feel bitterly cold. During the negative phase of the NAO, the jet stream is coming from northern Canada. Storms will form in that region and will not pack much of a punch. There will be many episodes of snow, but all in all, minor events. One Nor’easter will slam into Maine this year with amounts between 12 and 18 inches of snow.On average, Bangor receives, 72 inches of snow annually. We received 56 inches last year. This year, my forecast is calling for 64 inches in Bangor. The January thaw will live up to its name with a few warm spells, but the cold will linger into April. Despite calling for less snow than average, there will be an abundance of cold air, so when the snow sticks, it will hang around for awhile. So all of you skiers and snowboarders out there, this winter is for you.