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Lots Of Snow? A Deep Freeze? Experts Weigh In On What To Expect This Winter

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The Tri-State area has seen some brutal winter weather in the past two years, with record-setting snowfall and record low temperatures.

So how bad will it get this time around?

As CBS2's Lonnie Quinn reported, the winter forecast holds some good news for those who have grown tired of winter over the past couple of years.

"I really don't want as much snow as we had last year," said Emmett Green, of Harlem.

"We're all commiserating and worrying," said Upper West Side resident Shelley Huntington.

Huntington can easily recall how she felt last winter.

"About to lose it. Too cold and I hear it's going to be worse this coming year," she said.

For those who have heard the same, listen up because some experts disagree.

"This has all the signs of being what we call an El Niño winter," said Dr. Dave Robinson, a state climatologist at Rutgers University.

During El Niño, unusually warm water piles up in the pacific and becomes a driving force in weather patterns over the United States.

This year, El Niño is so strong, it's likely the area will trend wetter, and will get hit by a nor'easter or two, Quinn reported.

"We have seen some El Niño winters -- major El Niño winters -- where we've had very little snow," said Dr. Robinson.

Big winters require moisture and cold air, and that that was certainly the case last year.

Researcher Judah Cohen nailed last winter's frigid forecast by first looking at the Siberian snow cover in October.

"Last year was a really big number, it second highest on record," said Cohen.

The greater the snow cover, the more cold air builds up over Asia. It needs to go somewhere, so it spreads over the North Pole and oozes in our direction, Quinn reported.

"Like pouring molasses on the table," explained Cohen.

That's exactly what happened in February, which was the third coldest on record.

But this year looks less impressive.

"It's lagging in the past two Octobers," said Cohen.

With less Siberian snow and a strong El Niño, the final forecast looks more like this:

  • Fewer seemingly endless cold outbreaks
  • Fewer snow days
  • Smaller seasonal snowfall totals

But a couple of big storms could mean big problems if the cold air moves in at just the right time, Quinn warned.

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