Another Slow Start to Winter...(12-11-12)
For the second year in a row, the Syracuse winter season is getting off to a slow start (of course, last winter it was a slow start, middle and end). This is making skiers and snowmobilers nervous again. We have yet to have a day here in Syracuse this early winter in which a full inch of snow has. It is one of the latest times into the year we’ve gone without an inch of snow.
Since we are approaching our latest first 1” snowfall it also follows that we are going to see one of our longest stretches between last 1” snowfall last winter and the first 1” snowfall this winter. Here is that list.
|Year||Date of First 1” Snowfall|
|2012||December 11th |
Even though this winter may seem to be unfolding like last winter in terms of snow and temperature, the underlying patterns are different. Gone is the La Nina pattern (cooler than normal waters in the equatorial Pacific) that was with us the last two winters. In addition, the Arctic Oscillation index (which focuses on pressure differences over the polar regions) has been in a negative phase so far this winter season while last winter it was positive much of the time. So while our snowfall may be down so far, like last winter, the underlying fundamentals are different. This makes me think that the rest of this winter may not behave like last winter.Here is something that will give snow lovers some sign of hope. Here is a list of winters that had less than 20” of snow by the end of December then what those winters finished with.
|Year||Days Between 1” Snow||Dates|
|2009||287 Days||February 24 - December 9|
|2010||280 Days||February 26 - December 4|
|1946||276 Days||February 27 - December 1|
|1998||274 Days||March 22 - December 22|
|2012||272 Days||March 11 - December 11|
Obviously we have a long way to go before the end of the month but I wanted to show you some other winters here in Syracuse that got off to a very slow start with snow. There are two winters on that list that still managed to end up with near normal snowfall (1965-66 and 1949-50) and two more that actually exceeded our ‘normal’ (2006-07 and 1957-58) During the winter of 2006-07 we had nearly 100” of snow just during the months of January and February! February 1958 was the snowiest February on record with more than 70” of snow. That means 40% of the sample I looked at had quite a bit of snow the second half of the winter season so just because we’ve had a slow start to the snow season doesn’t always mean it necessarily will stay that way.Way out in the crystal ball we are able to see some signs on both the GFS and European model’s ensemble means that a trough of low pressure will try to build into the East. This could start to show itself very late next week or next weekend. Here is a look at what the main operational GFS model is saying 276 hours out into the future (Sunday December 23rd). Of course, this is just speculation this far out in time so you need to take it with a big grain of salt but it provides some hope for those looking for true winter weather. A pattern like this at least opens the door for lake effect possibilities. Whether this is a pattern change that would last for more than a few days is up for debate
|Winter||Snow Thru Dec. 31||Total Seasonal Snowfall|
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