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Winter’s Million Dollar Question

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Will it come this year? Starting November, this becomes a question that many hope (or dread) will have “yes” as its answer. With the potential to be a major hindrance and excitement for people worldwide, discovering if it will snow or not this year has become important information to all those as it impacts across the globe!

As for the answer to this question, this year is going to be “mild or wild” stated the director of seasonal forecasts, Judah Cohen. In short, Cohen explained it all comes down to El Niño and La Niña, but she’s not referring to the Spanish words for “little boy or girl”. These are actually names for weather patterns that affect the temperature of the Pacific Ocean, making it higher or lower than average, respectively. In turn, this can also affect weather around the entire world!

When La Niña hits, the weather generally becomes drier and warmer. Contrastingly, when El Niño conditions occur (this year has a 95% chance) it causes an increase in rainfall, typically bringing colder winters and “numerous storms to the Southeast and Mid-Atlantic, where New Jersey is” (Cohen). However, there’s a minimum amount of cold air needed in order to form actual snow. Additionally, El Niño creates a subtropical jet stream in the southern states, and a polar jet stream, which separates the polar vortex from seasonable temperatures. After the polar jet stream moves from Western Canada to the Great Lakes, it either paves a path to New England, keeping NJ mild, or goes to the Mid-Atlantic, pushing the edge of the polar vortex into NJ. If the latter occurs and the jet streams combine, heavy snowfall can accumulate in the state. However, if the jet streams miss each other, NJ will unfortunately get below average snowfall once again.

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According to the Climate Prediction Center, the Garden State is expected to have a 40-50% chance of warmer than average temperatures, but with the expected wetter winter season it gives NJ the increased odds of a 30-40% chance of receiving above average snow this year. In addition, long range weather forecasters of the organization predict that this winter is going to be full of storms, ranging from rain, ice, sleet, and snow. Surprisingly, December is expected to have a mild winter this year, with the major threats of snow actually starting in mid-January. More specifically, mark your calendars for the second week of January, the second week of February, and the first week of March, for those are going to be the dates these forecasters will have high hopes for winter storms.

Overall, this year is definitely the time to flush ice cubes down the toilet, wear your pajamas inside out, hope that El Niño comes, and the jet streams will collide! I hope you enjoy the upcoming winter season, and stay warm!

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