Mild winter remains good bet, feds say

Snow shoveler on South Broad Street last February taking a break from labors. Federal forecasters are favoring a mild 2017-18 winter.

The trends, the computer models, and the La Niña cooling in the tropical Pacific all argue for a winter on the mild side, according to the government’s winter outlook updated on Thursday.

The Climate Prediction Center made no guess on snowfall, and it never does, citing the limits of the science.

Camera icon Climate Prediction Center
Feds winter outlook

The mild-winter idea is getting some support elsewhere.

For example, AccuWeather’s most-recent 90-day forecast for Philadelphia has a mild look for December and January.

After a cool start, Glenn Schwartz, the NBC10 meteorologist, foresees a slightly warmer-than-normal January and even milder February.

He also offered some cold water for snow lovers. “I’m not expecting that we’ll see a single huge snowstorm,” he wrote in releasing his forecast last week.

“We will likely get several smaller snow events.” He’s calling for 12 to 18 inches for the season for Philly; the long-term average is about 22.

WeatherBell Analytics is more bullish: It’s going with 30 inches, with temperatures about normal. So far from what we’ve seen, that outlook is an outlier.

Schwartz noted that all the long-range computer models he’s looked at argue for mild in the East.

The Climate Center said the models and other indicators are “consistent with typical La Niña impacts.”

We note that the forecast for the East from the Delmarva on south is for below-normal precipitation, which would imply a lack of coastal storms.

Our own analysis of La Niña-influenced winters shows a wintry mix of outcomes.

Our own analysis also shows that the atmosphere typically doesn’t consult the long-range computer models.

Not that winter will pass without at least a few good scares. We share this from Gary Szatkowski, erstwhile chief of the National Weather Service Office in Mount Holly.