With the month’s first eight days registering an average 5.8 degrees above normal and no plunge to freezing in the short-term forecast, perhaps Long Island will see a rare snow-free December.
Look for above-normal temperatures into next week, said Bill Goodman, a National Weather Service meteorologist based in Upton.
Indeed, one computer model indicates mild temperatures leading right up to Dec. 22, said Rich Hoffman, News 12 Long Island meteorologist. And the Climate Prediction Center indicates a 70 percent probability for above-normal temperatures for the month overall — with 35.6 degrees the norm at Long Island MacArthur Airport.
But, as we know, weather always likes to pull a fast one.
“Not saying it is a lock we get cold,” Hoffman said, but a possible pattern shift after Dec. 21 could open the door to colder air.
Several chances for precipitation are being eyeballed, including potential for a system right around Dec. 24 and 25, said Bob Smerbeck, senior meteorologist with AccuWeather.com.
All it really would take is a dip to normal temperatures — high of 41, low of 26 — to result in a white Christmas, but he’s more inclined to advise umbrellas as opposed to shovels.
There’s a “slightly better chance,” he said, for snow the following week, should conditions align.
This balmy December comes on the heels of both a record warm November and meteorological fall, which runs from September through November. That’s according to data at the airport, for which the National Weather Service has maintained the Island’s official records since 1984.
At the root of that, weather experts said, is El Niño, a climate pattern originating with unusually warm temperatures in the Pacific that affects weather worldwide.
“El Niño has weakened the polar jet stream, so that it has stayed north of the Northeast U.S.,” with the subtropical jet stream blowing warmer air up from the Southwest, said Jessica Spaccio earlier this month. Spaccio is a climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center, based at Cornell University.
As for a rundown of December snowfall statistics, the highest amount in 30 years, 25.3 inches, fell in 2009; normal snowfall for the month is 5.4 inches and the only recorded year that saw no December snow at all was 2006, Spaccio said. No data was available for 2001 and 2003, she said.