Bolaris: Winter 2014: Is the worst yet to come?
The winter of 2013-2014 has been nearly right on target from my long-range winter outlook, which was posted here on Philly.com back in November.
I predicted the possibility of 30 to as much as 40 inches of snow, depending on how certain atmospheric players set up.
Without going through a total rehash (weather geeks, you can go to my wicked winter forecast on Philly.com with all the details), my key players were:
Arctic oscillation: When it's in a negative phase, think snow.
North Atlantic oscillation: Negative phase's better chances of snow with storms more prone to be blocked from heading out to sea.
Pacific North American, or PNA: Teleconnection should be locked in a positive phase (due to above-normal Pacific Ocean water temperatures). This leads to major high pressure ridging in the West creating an energized trough to set up in the East with maximum storm activity to develop from mid-January and into February.
EL Nino southern oscillation, or ENSO: Long range was for the Pacific to remain neutral (called La Nada) meaning the atmosphere is up for grabs. Should remain neutral through the spring.
I also compared this current winter season to the 1978-79 season (37.7 inches of snow) and the winter of 1960-61 (49.1 inches of snow.)
The biggest wild card was the possibility of a major to superstorm that can dump a season's worth of snow in 24 hours. This still remains a wild card.
Looking ahead, the East Coast storm machine generated by a re-occurring, energized deep Eastern trough looks to be with us through mid-February. That means above average accumulating snow potential. The next time frame for possible snow is Jan. 16-23. Arctic oscillation will become negative.
As of Jan. 13, we officially have recorded 20.2 inches of snow in Philly.
This is about normal for an entire winter season; obviously we have a long way to go.
The atmosphere is also signaling that the "Polar Vortex" will rotate and poke down (current location in Northwest Canada). Some unusually intense signals are taking place which should lead to a continuation of arctic blasts invading the east.
Combined with a redeveloping energized trough in the east, this will continue to allow for diving energy bundles and result in higher potential for secondary East Coast storms.
Nobody can predict just how much more snow will fall in the Philly region, but I can tell you this, the potential for accumulating snows and/or a major snowstorm is significantly above average.
The Wicked Winter of 2013-14 ain't over yet.