47 ABC Storm Team Releases 2020-2021 Winter Outlook
Salisbury, MD (WMDT) – Last winter was disappointing for those who love snow. We barely had any snow and it was the 5th warmest winter on record in Salisbury, being 5.9° above average.
Looking back at last winter, snowfall at first looked promising as Salisbury received 0.5″ of snow on November 12th, which ended up being the heaviest snowfall of the season and the total for the season. The actual months of winter ended up being a bust, with only a trace of snow in December & February and no snow in January. Wallops Island saw the heaviest snowfall of the season with over 2 inches recorded in February.
When it comes to this winter, the main driving force will be the El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO), which is a recurring climate pattern that involves the cooling and warming of the waters in the central and eastern tropical Pacific. This year we are experiencing La Niña conditions, which is the cool phase of ENSO. What this means is that the Northwest U.S. will have a wetter winter, while the southern part of the country will remain dry and mild. In the Mid-Atlantic, we could see quick cold spells due to the positioning of the polar jet stream.
Based on data from winters 1949/50 through 2019/2020, we will likely see average to above average temperatures this winter. La Niña winters are generally warmer than ENSO neutral winters by over a degree. Last winter was an ENSO neutral winter. When it comes to snow, we generally see less snow than average during a La Niña winter. But, that does not mean we will not see snow this winter. We have had La Niña winters with a considerable amount of snow. A prime example is the winter of 2017-2018 when we had around 17 inches of snow. And since we are witnessing a weak to moderate La Niña now, we could expect more snow than if we had a stronger La Niña. The stronger the Niña gets, the chances of having more snow decreases.
Now, the question I’m sure you’re all asking, how much snow will you get in your backyard? So here’s the wrap up of our forecast:
-We’re expecting a weak to moderate La Nina this winter.
-La Nina’s favor smaller storms, but there’s still a chance a bigger storm could happen.
-We’re also expecting a better chance for arctic outbreaks this winter, but they’ll likely be short-lived and impact norther U.S more than our area.
-Temperatures will be above average overall and snowfall will be average.
Salisbury averages about 9.9 inches of snow each winter and we’re expecting right around that with more as you go west. On average, we’ll probably see anywhere in the range of 6-10 inches of snow this winter. So there you have it. A milder winter with average snowfall. So if you’re a snow lover, look at it as a win. That’s a lot more snow than we had last winter.