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Uh oh. Winter is hiding! Where'd it go?! We wrap up November around the norm, which mind you, was totally expected. I think this is a huge win in the man vs machine debate. Most models were bullish with the idea of a mild November, they were wrong. Outside of a few mild days here and there, a good chunk of this month was chilly. As we head into December, where do we go? There are a few different things we need to look at to get you an answer to that question. My personal thoughts? We get cold and stay cold for awhile and our pattern becomes active. We will likely see our first snow event by mid month. One thing I see happening for sure? Much colder temperatures for the holidays. That's a big change from the past couple years. 

Now, something I have to deal with on the daily are winter weather nay-sayers. These are people who will go against anything you have to say for the sake of doing it. I get it... it's fun to argue! I love doing it myself. I have close friends of mine IN THE FIELD whom I argue with constantly. They, along with many others, say this Winter will be a blow torch. That's simply not going to be the case. One of the reasons they say it will be is because of La Nina. 

What would make them say that? Well… we had a La Nina last year! Difference being is the POSITIONING of the coolest sea surface temperatures. That’s the part they don’t want to talk about. Position is key because it ultimately influences what the arctic jet stream does. Crazy, right? Our weather isn’t only a result of what happens locally, but rather what’s going on across the globe. Think of it as a very intricate puzzle. One piece impacts the other.

Let’s take a look at what the sea surface temperatures looked like exactly one year ago… Notice where the coolest water is? Almost in the middle of the Pacific. This would mean last year’s La Nina was Central-West based. That is why we had troughiness in the west and a persistent ridge in the east.

Now, take a gander at our current situation… the areas I have circled are what I’m trying to point out and are much different than last year. Notice where the coolest water is? We’d call this an Eastern based La Nina which would help promote as negative North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) and positive Pacific North America (PNA) pattern. These two oscillations work in tandem to bring colder air to the east coast.

I know you’re probably concerned about the very WARM water off the coast of Jersey… right? There are reasons you SHOULD be concerned, however, I think there is a greater likelihood of more snow as a result of this setup… why? You NEED warmth to allow storms to blossom. Plain and simple. Areas of low pressure that get out over open water THRIVE on warmth. The more warmth available in combination with cold air over land… the bigger the snow shield.

Of course track of any storm is key. Closer to the coast would mean more rain at the shoreline. But the big picture, OVERALL, looks much better than last year.

The thing that really concerns me though is the potential for a larger coastal storm that could bring significant impacts to our shore towns. More warm water equates to stronger storms which equates to flooding and wind issues. Form a storm at the wrong time (ie astronomical high tide) and you know the drill… but we will focus on that when and if it happens. For now I want to look at things in a more positive way and talk SNOW and COLD… ya know, WINTER weather?

It seems as though we’ve missed out over the past couple years. Last December was disgustingly warm. Record high temperatures all over the place. This year will NOT be a repeat. I promise you that. Quite the opposite, actually. Once our pattern flips by the second week of the month I think we get in on sustainable cold air. Several shots of reinforcing cold air will be seen as well.

Models are worthless. Specifically the climate models. Why? As I stated above they painted a very WARM scenario for November. That clearly didn’t happen. Better try next time perhaps? Funny thing is they are FINALLY starting to come around to my thoughts for December. MUCH cooler. Look at the comparison here…

The first image is what the CFS Climate model was saying for December just ONE WEEK AGO. A strong / persistent ridge through the southeast US which would pump heat into the Mid Atlantic and Northeast. The second shows you something completely different as that strong ridge kinda vanishes. This model just happens to be in the camp that many others are trending towards. I’ll say it one more time… Man Vs Machine and man is coming out on top.

Trust me, I don’t want to sound pompous here, I just want to point out that meteorology is about much more than looking at a specific model and running with its output to make a forecast. There are MANY things that need to be looked at that the models don’t really pick up on.

I’m sure the next big question is “When do you expect our first snowfall?”. Great question! I definitely think it’s before Christmas. And I’ll say this… I can’t promise a White Christmas, but I’d say there is a greater chance THIS year… probably the best chance since 2010. Here’s a look at when ON AVERAGE we see our first snow in South Jersey when a La Nina pattern takes control.

In a nutshell, I AM excited for this Winter. I’m not saying it is ALL going to be brutally cold. In fact, I’m forecasting temperatures to be at or even perhaps SLIGHTLY above norm as a whole. Keep in mind, we DON’T want brutal cold… it INHIBITS big snows in many cases.