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Long-range forecast: More storms possible on LI this winter

Trekking across the snow in Bethpage State Park 

Trekking across the snow in Bethpage State Park  on Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016. Photo Credit: Newsday / J. Conrad Williams Jr.

With autumn underway, can thoughts of winter be far behind?

Though it’s too early to fine-tune and pin down the prospects, long-range forecasters can make predictions for regional scenarios, based on various oceanic, atmospheric and solar patterns.

The thinking at AccuWeather is that the Northeast region, including Long Island, could see more frequent storms this winter, but not necessarily major snow producers. Meteorological winter runs from December through February.

Last winter saw fewer systems, but some were “big hitters,” said Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather long-range forecaster.

Indeed, Long Island saw two days that met the criteria for a winter storm warning — Jan. 23, when 23.4 inches fell at Long Island MacArthur Airport, and Feb. 5, when 9.8 inches fell, said Jessica Spaccio, climatologist with the Northeast Regional climate Center, based at Cornell University.

Even with more storms, Pastelok said, the question of snowfall amounts is still to be determined.

Earlier in the winter, Long Island could well be in an area seeing more “changeover systems” in which snow mixes with or changes over to rain, as milder air mixes in from the south, Pastelok said. January “may be decently cold enough to have more snow than rain events,” he said.

The thinking as of early October was that conditions in the Northeast will be “certainly colder on average than last year,” said Joseph D’Aleo, co-chief meteorologist with WeatherBELL, a Manhattan-based meteorological consulting firm.

He admits that’s a fairly easy call, given the above-normal conditions last winter, when MacArthur Airport came in at 6.1 degrees above the winter normal of 33.0.

One factor suggesting colder conditions, D’Aleo said, are expectations for “more atmospheric blocking in areas like northeast Canada, which would deflect cold air from the Arctic to the North Central and Northeast, much as water is forced to flow around a large rock in a stream.”

His thought is for a snowier season, also indicating a tendency for Long Island and New York City to see rain earlier in the winter, with those white flakes falling later in the season.

Still, he and his associates are waiting for later in October to make final calls, as they further monitor developing factors.

So, apparently, is the Climate Prediction Center — under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — which is scheduled to issue its winter outlook on Oct. 20.


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