A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky, unbidden, and seems like a thing of wonder. -- Susan Orlean

Saturday, October 19, 2013

2013-14 Winter Forecast & The Season's First Storm?

Welcome back, readers! Despite the absolutely lovely stretch of weather we've been enjoying this fall, we know the worm will turn at any point and we'll be bustling to find those sweaters, shovels, and snow boots tucked away in those corners of your homes and garages. In fact, we're going to see the temperatures nose southward this upcoming week and, without too much to get excited about, we could see our first flakes of the season. Hoo-ray!

The biggest recent weather news is that the Weather Channel announced its winter storm names that it will be using for the 2013-14 season, which is proof more positive than a narrow orange band 'round a wooly caterpillar that the first storm is around the corner.

Speaking of names...the GSD Staff had a long debate during our summer retreat on the beautiful shores of Lake Champlain about storm names. Should we jettison our naming system and go with The Weather Channel's? Around and around it went but ultimately we decided to keep our unique system. A) We enjoy receiving your input on names, and B) it gives us a good accounting of how many storms we end up having. Once again we remind you: female names for coastal storms; male names for storms that come out of the west (clipper-type systems). If a clipper system comes from the west and is expected to reform on the coast (a very typical pattern for us), we'll give it a female name. We will certainly acknowledge TWC's names, but our preferred storm names will be home grown.

But let's cut to the chase and get to the info you've all been waiting for. What kind of winter are we expecting for 2013-2014? Will we have the big fizzle of 2011-12? Will we have a normal winter, a la last year? Will 2013-14 just be one long blizztaculous snowmageddon? The early returns are in from all of our field experts and the word on the streets is we're in for--hold your collective breath now--an average winter with a slight chance of above average snowfall. Not exactly spine-tingling, is it?

First of all, what is an average winter? Around these parts, "average" means in the 50- to 60-inch range. Last year we Albany officially had 51.4 inches of snow (compared to 23.3 in 11-12 and 87.2 in 10-11). If we get 15" of snow in December, January, and February, and an outlier storm in November or March, we'll reach our average.

Unfortunately, the long-term forecast is indicating a very slow start to the winter for the Northeast. November will not feature the unseasonably warm weather we've been experiencing, but that dreaded warm weather is supposed to return for December.

At the moment, with all of our weather feelers out there, we don't see a stormy November or December in the offing. The good news is that there are indications that the second half of the winter will feature slightly above average moisture and slightly below average temperatures. More moisture + colder January and February temps = more snow. That's an equation even the most limited of math students can understand and one that the GSD Staff is embracing wholeheartedly. We think January and February are going to be exciting times indeed this year.

We wish we could announce the winter of 2013-2014 with trumpets, banners, and a pyrotechnics show, but Mother Nature will not be so munificent just yet. We are going to have to be patient this winter, as the really good storms will likely not materialize until 2014.

It's getting closer...and there are some rumblings that that swath of snow predicted for Northern New England will drop deeper into the mountainous regions of Western New England. Hey, that's us!

At the moment, though, we will hear "snow" and "snow showers" mentioned in the forecast for the middle of the week of Oct. 21st (see above). We'll certainly have our eye on this early storm to see if the snow area expands. Right now it looks like those lucky folks in the Adirondacks will be the ones seeing the first Northeast snow of the season.

Get those hats and mittens out--you're going to need them this week. And remember that you have to walk before you can run.






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