2018 winter weather outlook for New York area

- Both September and October 2017 had above-average temperatures this fall season leaving New Yorkers a little confused. Recently, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its winter weather outlook. Forecasters predict that our upcoming winter season will be milder than average. 

David Stark of the National Weather Service says that we should not be disillusioned by NOAA's prediction.

"The outlook is for above-normal temperatures. That doesn't necessarily mean that it's going to be warm the whole time," Stark says. "A lot of periods in there could be very cold and then warms up. When things average out, it could average out just above normal."

NOAA is contributing the predicted mild winter to an upcoming La Niña, which is a phase of cooler than average waters in the central and eastern Pacific Ocean. During a La Niña winter, the tristate area can experience temperatures 5 to 10 degrees above normal.

During the meteorological winter of December, January, and February the average high temperature in Central Park is 41 degrees. That could be skewed a little cooler this year, according to Steven DiMartino, the lead forecaster at Weather Optics.

"I think you're going to see a little bit colder winter than we saw last year," DiMartino says. "And a little bit colder than their forecast."

DiMartino predicts a stormier and colder winter than NOAA's forecast.

"The fact that we are seeing warm water building around the Date Line leads to a lot of thunderstorms forming," DiMartino says. "And that leads to a trough in the central Pacific and a ridge on the West Coast. As a result, we end up with more storms on the East Coast and the potential for stronger cold air masses."

Forecasters are also keeping an eye on the northern Atlantic Ocean. The warmer-than-average water helped exacerbate our recent hurricane season and could influence our upcoming winter season.

"If we do get a significant winter storm that may develop off the coast, the warmer waters could help to feed more moisture and then we could see more precipitation from that," Stark says.

NOAA predicts that we will have a normal amount of precipitation this winter. 

On average, Central Park usually receives about 21 inches of snowfall during the winter season. With NOAA predicting warmer-than-average temperatures, we could actually see more in the way of rainfall this year.

Just like last winter, which was also influenced by la Nina, things are expected to ramp up late in the season.

"And then January we'll see the potential for some major winter storms," DiMartino says. "kind of relaxing a bit in February, but watch out for a surprise in March."

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