What does this winter have in store for the Midstate?

The Midstate hasn't seen a major snow storm in a few years. Will this season be any different? 

The last three winter seasons produced below-average snowfall for the area; you have to go back to the winter of 2009 to find a season that produced above average snow.

So what can we expect this season? In looking ahead at this winter's forecast, it is important to remember last winter.

March 2013 was the coldest month compared to December, January and February. The final snowfall tally was 13 inches below normal at Harrisburg International Airport.

Atmospheric signals, including El Niño, and Atlantic and Pacific ocean temperature patterns point to a similar outlook this year.

Pennsylvania State Climatologist Paul Knight explains: “The North Pacific is still cold. The Atlantic is still very warm. The ENSO, that is the El Niño South Oscillation, is giving us no message at all. So in one sense we would expect a relatively similar outcome, and I think that is where we are leaning now.”

However Knight does see some differences between last year and this year.

“I believe that the three month period will average above seasonal levels. So it will be milder than normal, [though] not quite as mild as last year. I think the important difference compared to last year, which was a relatively dry winter, [is] this one will be more moist.”

Peter Jung from the State College National Weather Service is not as bullish with the precipitation outlook. “We are in that equal chance category, not showing real strong signals either way of a wet or dry winter season,” Jung said.

Living in Central PA, we know can receive large temperature swings throughout the winter, which may make or break or snowfall chances. There is not a clear answer for this winter, but if last year is any indication, the winter in general should not be a rough one.

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