Coastal winter expected to be degree or two warmer than normal

November 19, 2021

Expect weather in the next three months of winter to look a lot like what we’re expecting next week. That means prepare for quick-hitting cold spells of short duration followed by weather warmer than normal by a degree or two. Those short-duration cold spells may be signaled by storms like the one coming in advance of Thanksgiving – maybe the season’s first snow flurries – but storms are not expected to last for long.

That’s all according to Accuweather Meteorologist Joseph Bauer, who specializes in longer-term forecasting. The Cape Gazette has contracted the services of Accuweather for a couple of decades for our weather and tide pages. I like to check in with their meteorologists from time to time to get a sense of what the next months may look like from a professional’s point of view.

“This is a La Niña year, which means cold-water upwellings off the coast of South America, which is usually a big indicator of weather coming across the United States,” said Bauer. “Those upwellings will push easterly winds across the western Pacific toward Indonesia, which in turn will push precipitation and high-pressure systems into the Pacific Northwest. Of course the weather in Delaware comes from the west.”

That may be why the Old Farmer’s Almanac is predicting a cold and snowy winter for Canada and the western states, as the jet stream influenced by that high pressure pushes into the Canadian Rockies. Bauer said systems like that often make their way into the nation’s northern plains and the Great Lakes region.

But, he said, because of unusually warm sea-surface temperatures in the coastal waters off the mid-Atlantic coast up to the Canadian Maritimes, the cold-air masses coming across the country will warm as they near the Atlantic.

“Those sea-surface temperatures are running one to three degrees above normal,” said Bauer. “So when that storm arrives next week to cool us off in this region, it will quickly warm up after that. The system will drop by a shot of cold air, but then that will be pushed off to the northwest. We will get active storms over the next three months into February, but periods of warm weather will overwhelm the cold air. The odds of having cold air in place when storms come will be lower. We will get normal amounts of precipitation, and some snow will move through quickly, but those storms won’t get much opportunity to wrap up along the coast and create any big snowstorms for this area. The best potential for big storms out of all of this will be up in the area from Boston into Maine rather than farther south.”

He said coastal Delaware’s winter weather should be one to two degrees above normal.

In larger and longer terms, Bauer said global warming has been noted and tracked since the 1950s. “Now we're starting to see it filtering into the sensible weather – the weather that we sense from day to day. Fifty and more years after we first started noting it, it’s moving the climate, getting into the heart of it.”

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