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WINTER OUTLOOK 23-24
Winter outlooks contain a degree of uncertainty because many factors in the atmosphere do not completely present themselves months or even weeks in advance. However, ENSO (the El Niño Southern Oscillation) can provide some clues. So let's take a look under the hood.
Following a well below Normal 2022-2023 winter for the Northeast U.S. that featured well below normal snowfall in much of the big Cities of the Northeast, This was strongly backed by a La Nina Phase and a strong Pacific Jet Stream which is not expected to play a part in the winter of 23-24, so what is in store for this upcoming 2023-2024 season.
El Niño Has Arrived
As just mentioned We're coming out of a streak of three consecutive La Niña wintersl, a rare occurrence that has now happened only three times since 1950. So was there finally a change...yes during the spring months the pattern quickly reversed from our La Niña phase into an El Niño phase. This El Niño has continued to strengthen over the course of the summer as noted by the very wet summer and Tropical weather in the Northeast. This type of frequent Precipitation pattern will remain in place through the winter of 2023-2024.
Unlike La Nina, an El Niño refers to the large-scale ocean-atmosphere climate phenomenon linked to periodic warming in sea-surface temperatures across the central and eastern equatorial Pacific. El Niño represents the warm phase of the ENSO cycle and means that the ocean water temperatures are warmer than average, this is something we've not seen in quite some time, this causes the Pacific jet stream to move south and spread further east.
During winter, this leads to wetter conditions than usual in the Southern US while spreading this moisture up the Eastern US seaboard.
The current El Niño phase and what it's effects on this winter will be are an important factor when it comes to prevailing weather patterns. A given El Niño (or La Niña) phase is rated as weak, moderate, or strong depending on sea surface temperature anomalies, but it's only one part of the overall picture. We should see a strong El Niño this year, I'm not expecting this to be a super El Niño as dynamical models are averaging 1.5 lasting well through December-January-February.
I expect this El Niño phase to work in tandem with the equatorial Pacific pumping more moisture into the air, causing an increase in showers, and thunderstorms which lead to the Development of coastal storms driven along a strong dominant Sub Tropical Jet Stream.
It is also Important to mention that this will not be an East based El Nino..We're looking more at a west Based event..This lines up better for East coast winter weather lovers as an East Based El Nino would not favor the larger storms making the Trip all the way up the coast. There will be times some systems will slide south of the Region and this is due mostly to the system coming along during a time when the Sub Tropical Jet is reloading itself and just how much Blocking is in place at the time of the event.
The NAO best noted as the North Atlantic Oscillation....the NAO is a large-scale fluctuation in atmospheric pressure between the subtropical high pressure system located near the Azores in the Atlantic Ocean and the sub-polar low pressure system near Iceland and is quantified in the NAO Index. When this is in a negative phase it means cooler temperatures and wetter conditions are more likely for the eastern US. This is something that's been consistently showing up on the models, it's a great sign if you like your winter cold and snowy, the bigger question is will it hold through most of the winter and just how strong will it be and is it more west based opening a channel along the east coast for storm passage.
VERY IMPORTANT -NAO -North Atlantic Oscillation
The Quasi-Biennial Oscillation (often referred to as the QBO) is a stratospheric phenomenon that strongly impacts global weather on Earth's surface and is therefore an important consideration in the long-range weather prediction. This has been trending Positive since July revealing Westerly Phase Impacts. During the westerly (positive) phase of the QBO (often denoted WQBO) in the Northern Hemisphere wintertime, much of the Northern US is more likely to be cooler than normal. This means the winds are Easterly..This also means we get a weaker polar Vortex. When the Polar vortex is strong it tends to lock all the cold air up not allowing it to spill into the US, on the flip side a weaker Vortex is much more likely to spill the cold out..This is where the Positive QBO comes into play reversing the westerly winds to Easterly..The easterly flip is the first ingredient in Causing a Polar Vortex Disruption also known as a Sudden Stratospheric Warming event..When warmer air rises and cold air descends.
One Important thing to remember about an El Niño Winter is they tend to start on the later side and than Run well into Spring..So if you're looking for a warm Spring it's not likely in the cards.
Here are the current phases of the Arctic Oscillation, NAO, and the Pacific North American Pattern.
GETTING TO THE BASICS
We know we have El Niño in place..This should supply the Moisture as the Sub Tropical Jet becomes the main Jet Driver this winter..With this Jet running along the Gulf states this leaves plenty of room for the Northern colder stream to dip much further southward. I'm expecting these two streams to Phase on and off during the winter..At times when these two streams Phase it's likely we will be tracking a Coastal low pressure system..More like the Miller A type that run through our 40/70 Benchmark.
The Temps look to be on more of a plus 2 side..This is quite confusing to most people, I would say that many areas in the Northeast should run about +2.....this Is really nothing and it's not very noticeable...if You have an average Temp of 25 and we look at +2 above than we're only talking about 27 Degrees..Same Idea applies to a Temp of 30...add In the +2 and you're at Freezing and so on.
This is what I'm expecting for Overall winter Temps however all that nice planning can go right out the door if the weaker Polar Vortex comes to play..than we are dealing with a colder overall outlook, hard to nail that down since we're not in winter as I'm writing this outlook.
Based on all the Data I'm expecting a Late start to the winter other than the more notible areas that get snow during November and December with an overall look as shown here.
Across the East, wetter but also warmer than average conditions are favored on the eastern side of the Appalachians and in the Mid-Atlantic with drier conditions on the western side of the Appalachians. Please note that wetter does not mean rain all the time. The odds of above-average precipitation during Strong El Niños as opposed to weak/moderate El Niños is very high, temperatures are more likely to be warmer than average which does not indicate a higher percentage of rain vs. Snow events as I mentioned the temperatures earlier in this outlook and what they mean without any aid from the Polar Vortex.
WINTER OUTLOOK FROM ZONE 1-4
Persistent upper level ridging should remain anchored capping much of the cold keeping temperatures above normal and precipitation below normal,
ZONE 2 With some fluctuation of the Subtropical jet stream and Northern Stream Disturbances it looks more like a near normal winter outlook.
ZONE 3 Typical El Nino conditions apply here as abundant moisture will be available.. I may revise this Zone again in December as I'm quite tempted to go well above normal with Precipitation...There Will be plenty of snowfall chances in this zone and Temperatures are at Risk due to any polar Vortex Disruption ramping up snowfall numbers..For now will go slightly above.
ZONE 4 Typical El Nino... Strong Sub Tropical Jet Stream at play here with abundant Precipitation and cooler Temperatures...Locations Not use to seeing Ice and snow have a Greater chance with a Polar Vortex Disruption.
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