Special Report: Winter Weather Outlook

After a pretty calm spring and summer in the Tri-State our attention now shifts to the winter season.

First let's recap this past winter. We were under the influence of the polar vortex for much of January, February and March sending temperatures to record lows.

Our biggest snow actually fell in December with just over seven inches.  The rest of the winter brought an additional five inches of snowfall for a total of just over a foot for the season.

El Nino was not a factor, since we were in a so-called "neutral pattern".

Now, the climate prediction center is forecasting a warmer and drier winter than last year.

The only hitch here is that this forecast is based on an early return of El Nino, and we haven't seen that yet.

To figure out what kind of winter may lie ahead for 2015, we looked back over several years to see if there was a pattern similar to this year's leading into winter.

Last winter the monthly average temperature was well below average, but we bounced back with a warmer spring, followed by normal to slightly below normal temps through the summer.

While we warmed a bit in October, we're now in the middle of an Arctic airmass that will likely pull November's average temperature well below normal.

The previous year had a very similar pattern, with a cold late winter, warmer spring, milder summer, warmer fall and a big drop in November.

That year yielded 12.3" of snow, almost the same as we had this year.

So, looking ahead, we believe that El Nino will begin to appear toward the start of spring.

This means we'll likely have a colder than average December with 3-4" of snow for the month.

The cold will linger through the first half of January with 4-6" of snow, and then we'll see milder air working in by February with a couple of inches of snow.

If the El Nino pattern strengthens, we would expect to see an early onset of active or severe weather in March.

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