2019-2020 Winter Weather Outlook: Likely to Bring More Snow than Last Winter
Last winter was a disappointment for snowlovers across Delmarva. We didn’t receive nearly as much snow as we have in recent winters. So what can we expect this winter?
Let’s take a look back at what we experienced last winter on Delmarva. In terms of our temperatures, we were above average each month. Believe it or not, every few weeks we made it to at least 50 degrees. The longest Salisbury went without going above 50 was only 10 days! We only went 19 days without going above 60 degrees. The warmest temperature last winter was 69 degrees on February fifth. And interestingly enough, the coldest was 8 degrees a few days earlier on February second.
In terms of snowfall last year, we were well below average. Salisbury’s average snowfall each winter is 9.9 inches, and last year we only received 5.3 inches total. Our first measurable snow of the year was on December 8, and we received .8 inches of snow. Total January snowfall was 3.7 inches – and total in February was .8 inches. On March 1, Salisbury received a trace of snow, but northern areas received more.
Last year we dealt with the El Nino, where waters are warmer in the Eastern Pacific; but this winter we are headed for a neutral setting, in which the waters are average. This leads to cold conditions in the Midwest, cooler than normal in the Northeast, wetter than normal in the Tennessee Valley, and drier than normal over the Ark-La-Tex. Conditions are doubled in Florida & California, as they are both drier and warmer than normal. The ENSO neutral digs our subtropical jet stream a bit more south, lessening the chance of coastal storms. On the flip side, this creates for more clipper systems from the northwest to swing through Delmarva bringing quick bursts of snow.
ENSO Neutral simply means there will be no El Nino or La Nina present. When you look back at the last winter that was ENSO neutral, 2013-2014, it’s good news for snow lovers. Salisbury received well above average snowfall with 21.9″. But, the winter before that one, 2012-2013 was also ENSO neutral and Salisbury only got 2.8″ of snow that entire winter. So it can really go either way.
This winter, we’re going to have to rely on some other factors to help determine what kind of winter it will be, such as the AO or Arctic Oscillation. This can help bring in the cold air when it’s in the negative phase. So we’ll be paying attention to that and several other factors this winter.
So here’s our forecast is a nutshell…with an ENSO neutral winter expected, we’ll likely have more influence from the polar jet rather than the southern jet. This increases our chances of having smaller snowstorms rather than the large coastal ones. But that doesn’t mean we won’t have any coastal storms. The polar jet will also bring Delmarva several arctic blasts this winter, but we believe we’ll be in the battleground between the cold air and mild air. We will likely have average to slightly above average temperatures, and average to below average snowfall. We average 9.9″ of snow per winter and we’re predicting 6-12 inches this winter.
Overall, we’re expecting more snow than what we got last winter, several arctic outbreaks that won’t last for too long, and a better chance at smaller snowstorms rather than larger ones. However, there have been some interesting studies that are hinting that we may get more snow than we’re currently forecasting. One is the sunspot cycle. When the sun is inactive with a lack of sunspots, it’s called a solar minimum. Previous solar minimums have brought us cold and active winters, and this year will likely be a solar minimum. And lastly, if the snow growth in the Siberia/Eurasia area is above normal in October, that can correlate to colder winters along the east coast of the U.S., and this year it is above normal. So it’s a tough call this year, and we’re getting some mixed signals, but we’ll keep you updated if our thoughts change.