Warm autumn season does not predict warm winter

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With the completion of one of the warmest autumns on record in Southern New England, many people want to know if that trend will continue into winter.

Seasonal forecasting, three to four months in advance, though, is certainly not an easy task.

While specific details are difficult to predict this far in advance, the way the winter will unfold can be generalized by looking at numerous weather indices and patterns across the entire northern hemisphere.

One of the biggest factors are the oceans and sea surface temperature anomalies.

Temperature anomalies along the equatorial Pacific Ocean have names that the public is getting used to hearing in the media: El Nino, the warmer phase, and La Nina, the cooler phase.

This phenomena can alter weather patterns across North America and the United States. Currently, the La Nina phase is being experienced.

La Nina alone, while a big player, does not solely dictate the entire winter season.

There are a number of other global factors, including weather patterns both in the North Atlantic near Greenland and water temperatures in the Northern Pacific Ocean.

With all the global parameters at play, it is a complicated dance of “action- reaction” in the atmosphere.

Temperatures are expected to average “normal to slightly below” normal with a lot of roller coaster swings, both mild and very cold. Snowfall is expected to average “near normal to slightly above normal.”

Providence averages about 30 inches of snow, so it is expected to be at least that or perhaps slightly higher.

At this point an “extreme” winter with severe cold or excessive amounts of snow is not expected. However, it only takes one or two good sized snowstorms to throw the seasonal snow numbers into the slightly higher category.