There are many ways I could explain why we didn’t really have a Winter this Winter. Philadelphia has had less than 8 inches of snow. Wilmington, DE has seen only 5. Baltimore has seen less than 5. Washington, D.C. has seen less than 3. Yet, points north of Philadelphia have seen an average or better than average snow season. From New York City on north it was a very snowy and cold Winter.
Until the Super Bowl, Boston had seen less than 15 inches. Then in a span of three weeks were pounded with over 40 inches. January and February have been much warmer than usual. Temperatures in February, I bet my house on it, will average over 50. And the Winter as a whole will be in the low 50’s for an average. For many of us “nothing” went wrong this Winter. I totally understand it. However, there are several reasons that went wrong that made us see almost no snow and sustained cold snaps. Here is, mostly, my assessment:
- HYPE: From Farmer’s Almanac to major experts mostly everyone saw this Winter as “Icy, and snowy” for the Mid-Atlantic region. No El Nino. A weak La Nina. And everyone went for epic past Winters such as 2009-2010; 2013-2014. And I even joined, not the hype, but things looking as even as they did I went with the over. Obviously, nothing really panned out for any of the “predictions” .
2. PATTERN: The signs were there in October. The West was starting to get snowy. Many saw this as the usual start that the pattern would shift sometime in December and move the trough east. It never did. The eastern ridge was very stingy. Moderate shifts in the jet stream caused it to buckle at the end of December into January. The East saw a significant cold snap and a potential nor’easter to blanket everyone. It gave some significant amounts to points south of us , but never shifted far enough NW offshore. We got side-swiped. Then the pattern just shifted right back to where it was. And it pretty much hasn’t changed. The northern jet was a dominant jet all Winter long. It moved way to fast for storms to phase, and there wasn’t any cold air around when systems did come through. Instead it gave us mostly rain, or a passing snow flake.
3. LACK OF COLD AIR: Simply, there wasn’t enough around . We had three cold snaps of any significance this Winter. One in the middle of December. One at the start of January. And one a the start of February. Each one lasted about 3 or so days. We didn’t have a stretch of cold weather long enough for anything that came towards us, with enough moisture, that would have given us a significant snowstorm. We had some really good set-ups, but there wasn’t enough cold air around to make the difference. The PV (Polar Vortex) saw significant atmospheric warming; however, was really strong. It did create some cross polar draining of cold air, but never came far enough south. It was locked up, mostly in Canada.
4. INTERIOR YEAR: The interior parts of the East Coast did significantly better than coastal areas. Upstate NY and New England were nailed with plenty of snow. There were more overrunning systems this year (Storms that come over an area as part of a normal west-east pattern). They cut through the lakes because there was no major blocking high in the atmosphere. These mostly give us rain because they pull warmer air up from the south. Interior PA in the Poconos did fairly well. Ski resorts are very happy this Winter. It was their year! Maybe that will change next Winter.
5. THE NEW “NORMAL”?: There are signs and signals we are going towards another El Nino year. It could be moderate. We will probably not feel it’s impacts until late Summer. This could mean that next year we see more of the same. Perhaps, not as warm or stretches of warm days in the Winter; however, the trend is dictating that areas south of Philadelphia and the lower Mid-Atlantic (Baltimore, Washington, D.C.) are going to have more Winters that resemble the lower south (Virginia, Carolinas) . This means average temperatures will be higher and to have a significant system dumping lots of snow, we will need a major drowning of Arctic high pressure sitting north of us and the exact track of a storm system to deliver snow. I suspect we are starting to see a global pattern not favorable for anyone. The new “normal” theory I’ve been purporting where we see things that we’re not used to seeing, but we need to start to get used to it. And this goes for all seasons.
OLD MAN WINTER VERSUS MR. HEAT MISER
WINNER: MR. HEAT MISER WINTER 2017