It's that time of year again when the questions start flying.....how much snow are we going to get, is it going to be a cold winter, do you think we'll get a blizzard?
When I think about the winter weather outlook. I start looking for signs.
No, not street signs or signs from the universe like in the movie Fools Rush In, but signs in the atmosphere that help me determine whether we are in store for a cold and snowy winter or a mild and dry winter.
The signs I look for come from all over the globe, from El Niño in the Equatorial Pacific which shows that we are currently in a neutral phase. Meaning, El Nino nor La Nina are influencing the winter storm tracks in the U.S. this season.
The snow cover over Siberia and its relationship to the cold over the Arctic is another sign and it has the tendency to push the polar vortex in our direction.
A giant patch of remarkably warm water off the West Coast in the northeast Pacific Ocean called The Warm Blob is also a sign. Another sign includes blocking patterns near Greenland which could keep our area cold and possibly snowy.
The last sign comes from the sun....the solar minimum. The solar minimum is when solar activity is very low. We are currently in the solar minimum and it has an impact on our atmosphere and the weather we can expect. During solar minimum, Earth tends to cool slightly but any cooling during the winter months could mean colder temps and more snow.
When the signs align they point to an above average season in terms of temperatures and snow.
December and January will end up above average. With that said, there will still be days where temps dip below freezing but they will be short-lived. February and March will be months when the real cold settles in putting us in the deep freeze.
As for the snow, the signs are pointing to an above-average snowfall this year. We normally receive about 20.1" of snow a year in Baltimore. This year, I'm expecting 21- 26" of snow in Baltimore.