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Long Island winter weather outlook remains unclear, forecasters say

Mary Hirschhorn, of Lindenhurst, struggles in the wind

Mary Hirschhorn, of Lindenhurst, struggles in the wind and snow as she walks down Delaware Avenue in Lindenhurst on Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Credit: Steve Pfost

Though we all want the inside skinny on winter weather conditions, Long Islanders will just need to settle at this point for wait and see.

For the northeastern area that includes Long Island, long-range forecasters see a slight tilt in favor of temperatures averaging above normal for December through February — considered meteorological winter — though near normal and below normal would also be in the running. As for precipitation, there wasn’t a strong enough climate signal to favor one direction, so the call is for an equal chance of above, below or right near normal.

That’s according to Thursday’s monthly climate update from the Climate Prediction Center, which was in line with last month’s predictions for winter.

For Long Island MacArthur Airport, the average winter temperature is 33.1 degrees, with an average 10.96 inches of precipitation, which includes melted snow, according to Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional Climate Center at Cornell University.

Winter weather conditions were in somewhat better focus for parts of the country.

Much of the northern United States was leaning toward wetter than normal conditions, with a smaller area to the northwest also cooler. A stretch clear across the southern United States was leaning toward being drier and warmer, according to the outlook.

Forecasters did confirm Thursday that La Niña conditions are present and are likely to persist through winter. La Niña — a climate pattern originating in the tropical Pacific that can affect weather worldwide — is expected to be “weak to possibly borderline moderate,” said Stephen Baxter, seasonal forecaster with the Climate Prediction Center, part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Its “footprint” can be seen in predictions for much of the country, he said, though areas of the northeast were a bit more “on the fence,” as other weather influences can also come into play.

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