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Tri-state winter weather outlook: El Niño brings more rain — plus 1-2 major snowfalls

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If there’s one thing we know about winter in the tri-state, it’s that we have to be ready for anything.

Recent past seasons have ranged from mild (like last winter, with barely any snow to speak of in New York City) to wild (we can all remember mounds of snow burying cars, part of record-setting days in previous years). So what will this one bring?

After studying the models and talking with the experts, here’s the Storm Team 4 winter weather outlook for 2023-2024.

El Niño could bring 1-2 huge storms

This season, we’re in for a strong El Niño, defined as warmer-than-normal water in the Pacific Ocean near the Equator. 

Last year, during La Niña, northeast storms tracked farther inland, leaving us with mainly rain. This year, El Niño will drive the tropical jet stream farther south, so we should see more offshore storm tracks. The key for one storm to produce snow is for it to tap into frigid arctic air.

“Typically during these El Niños, you have maybe one, two, you know, really big snow storms when all of this comes together,” said Nelson Vaz, a warning coordination meteorologist at the NYC office for the National Weather Service.

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Vaz’s team issues watches and warnings when winter weather hits the tri-state. And there’s recent history that points to conditions being ripe for plenty of watches and warnings to be issued this winter.

Case in point: The biggest snowfall on record in Central Park happened during our last strong El Niño: 27.5 inches in Jan. 2016, which was also during one of the warmest winters on record. Predicting exactly when the cold air intrudes is the hard part to forecast far ahead of time.

“We really won’t know until a week or two out. You know, are there signals where things could come together,” said Vaz.

The official winter outlook for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) indicates the East Coast will most likely be warmer-than-normal and wetter than normal. However, “it will still get cold enough to snow for the tri-state area,” said NOAA Climate Scientist Tom Diliberto, promising this winter will be an adventure.

“This year is not necessarily going to be the same as last year,” Diliberto said.

So what does it all mean?

Here’s your Storm Team 4 winter weather outlook and checklist:

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Invest in a good pair of waterproof boots, a rain jacket and an umbrella, as the tri-state is expected to get much more rain than snow this year.

But get a parka as well, as there will be at least a few Arctic outbreaks.

And finally, it’s more likely you’ll need a snow shovel. Unlike last year, the set-up is better for one or two hefty snows that could bring us close to our seasonal average of around 30 inches.

Source: NBC New York

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