BOSTON - The National Weather Service released their 2023-2024 winter forecast Thursday.
Not surprisingly, they stated that a very strong El Nino, already in place, will be the predominant driver of global weather going forward and throughout this winter.
What is El Nino?
El Nino is a warming of Pacific Ocean sea surface temperatures off the west coast of South America. These warmer than average water temperatures start a domino effect throughout the atmosphere, leading to a variety of effects depending upon where you live.
In a typical wintertime El Nino setup, you tend to get wetter than average conditions in the south and milder than average temperatures across the northern-tier.
Here is the official National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) winter temperature forecast.
You can see that in New England, the NOAA forecast shows a high probability of a warmer than average winter (Dec-Jan-Feb), particularly for portions of far northern New England.
This doesn't mean that we won't have some cold periods, just that taken overall, the three winter months will likely average out milder than normal.
As for precipitation, NOAA highlights a higher probability of above average precipitation across much of the southeastern U.S. The above average precipitation forecast also extends up the East Coast, including parts of southern New England.
Above average rain or snow?
Of course, this leads to the big question - will this come as rain or are we in for a bunch of snow?
NOAA says this is less clear. While they are forecasting warmer than average temperatures for our area, that does not preclude us from getting some big snowstorms. It only takes one (or a few) big nor'easters to tip the scales and the perception of the winter.
Looking back at other winters with strong El Ninos, nearly all of them finished with below average snowfall in the Boston area and most of New England. Many times, we end up with a lot of mixed precipitation events in El Nino winters.
Our WBZ Weather Team will issue their own winter forecast, focused on New England, in November. Stay tuned!
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