The emails have been rolling in for weeks and everyone is asking, “Will this winter be bad? Or will it be another dud like last winter?”
Indications earlier this year seemed to lean toward a strong El Nino pattern developing that could have impacted the upcoming winter.
El Nino is warmer than normal waters in the Pacific. That can influence the U.S., but we are much closer North Atlantic where something called the “North Atlantic Oscillation” occurs. This is going to be our main influence for this winter, especially since El Nino is not exactly developing.
What North Atlantic Oscillation does is it fluctuates between a positive, or warm phase, and a negative, or cool phase, for the Mid Atlantic. This is only just one piece to the puzzle.
Sometimes meteorologists take a look back in history to see what the future may hold.
Carl Quintrell is a weather watcher in Stanley and has weather records that span decades.
"In 1961, 62 and one of the memorable snows of that winter was the 35" we received in March of 1962", said Quintrell.
Most of the Valley's snow actually happens in January and February. 1961 and 1962 may have been one of the snowiest years, but neither of these years holds the record.
"The snowiest winter was in 1995 and 1996 we had 67 inches that winter."
Sixty-seven inches would be over three times the average snowfall for the Valley. Here is a look at some of Quintrell's snow records:
While snow totals can vary greatly with individual storms, the average is between 20 and 23 inches with temperatures in the low to mid 40s.
Because last winter was really the winter that almost wasn't, can we assume there will be more snow and colder temperatures this year?
"It seems like looking over past history here whenever we have a much below normal snow one winter it's definitely higher, sometimes above normal", says Quintrell.
It all goes back to the North Atlantic.
Last year we were in a positive phase, so all that cold air was trapped to the north for most of the winter, at least for the U.S. It was not the same story for Alaska or Europe, who saw record snowfall and record cold temperatures.
So far since August, we have continued to be in the negative, or cool phase, in the North Atlantic and that could continue into at least part of the winter, meaning we could experience quite the opposite winter from last year.
You may follow the Farmers Almanac, wooly worms, or other signs of nature. WHSV First Alert Storm Team gathered to talk about what they think this year's winter will look like.
Due to the way the patterns are setting up, they all agreed that this year would most likely be an average winter, which means around 23 inches of snow for this area, but weather can always change. We'll check back at the begining of the year to see how the winter forecast is holding up.