What does winter have in store? It’s the time of year again when Central New Yorkers begin to ponder what weather patterns lie ahead. Bitter temperatures and above-average snowfall have battered the region over the past two winters. But one forecaster says this year’s models suggest this season may be a mild one. New York State climatologist Mark Wysocki spoke to us from Cornell University. He says there is a 73 percent chance this year’s temperatures will be warmer than average.
"This is the event that we call El Nino. This is where the sea-surface temperatures in the region of the central pacific becomes warmer, above average. Right now, they are about 1.7 degree Celsius above average. That is actually approaching a record that we had set back in 1997, where the sea-surface temperatures were about 2 degrees Celsius above average."
Wysocki says the precipitation forecast is a bit more of an unknown. He says it could go either way because we’re dealing with rare events—a fierce jet stream and an El Nino effect-- that don’t allow for predictions to be made with much certainty. On top of that, he says the models don’t factor in lake effect snow. But Wysocki considers one possibility.
"With these above average temperatures now, you might be sitting there going 'what is the chance for lake effect? Does that mean we get more lake effect or less?' If the air is not as cold going across the water then that means that the lake effect won't be as energetic."
Wysocki warns that the forecast periods cover averages over three months. In other words, one or two large storms could comprise all the snowfall for the winter. He says other factors that show up in November could cause them to modify the forecast.