Saturday, February 24

NYC Should Brace for Snow’s Comeback Despite El Niño-Fueled Mild Winter

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(Bloomberg) — The northern US is on track for a mild winter, though New York and other East Coast cities should brace for the return of heavy snow storms after last winter’s virtually flake-free season.

“There is some hope for snow lovers,” Jon Gottschalck, a forecaster with US Climate Prediction Center, said Thursday in winter forecast briefing. “Snowfall tends to be above-normal because of a few strong events.”

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The southern US from California to Florida will be wetter than normal thanks to a strong El Niño that has emerged in the Pacific, according to Gottschalck. That pattern also means storms will travel up into US Northeast, unlike last year when systems focused on the Great Lakes region and left East Coast cities awash in rain. Only about 3 inches of snow fell in Manhattan’s Central Park from December to March, according to weather records.

The National Weather Service’s winter outlook is closely followed by energy traders, the tourism industry and transportation sectors. Most natural gas is burned in the US for heating between November and March, so an outlook for a mild winter could hold down prices with less fuel needed. Winter storms across the US also have a massive impact on transporting goods during the busy holiday rush.

The Pacific Northwest and northern New England have the highest odds for a warmer-than-normal winter, though the Great Lakes region, Midwest and mid-Atlantic regions are all expected to be milder. In addition to warmer temperatures, the northern Rocky Mountains and Great Lakes will likely be drier, adding to drought conditions, while rain and snow across the southern US could help improve parched conditions.

Beyond El Niño’s impacts, the Atlantic and Pacific oceans have had record warmth for months and such heat could also work to make the North American winter milder, Gottschalck said.

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