People make their way on a snowy Main Street in...

People make their way on a snowy Main Street in Patchogue on Feb. 27. Credit: John Roca

National Weather Service meteorologists expect the coming months will bring warmer than average temperatures and more storms to the East Coast than last year’s winter, a mixed bag for Long Island.

“The main story is that, for the northern tier of the continental United States, there’s the expectation that temperatures will run above average,” said Jay Engle, a weather service winter team leader, in an online briefing for reporters on Thursday.

December is likely to be warmer than January and February, with March warmer than normal, meteorologists said. There is no strong signal about major cold outbreaks, driven by winds miles above the earth’s surface, that sometimes drive frigid air from northern and central Canada south into the continental United States. Precipitation is expected to reach near normal levels, or slightly above.

Those “long-lead” outlooks are based on weather data stretching back decades and current observations of the volatile El Niño system, a global climate pattern that affects the jet stream and ocean temperatures and generally indicates warmer, wetter weather. They do not account for “shorter term and potentially large fluctuations from the averages,” according to National Weather Service guidance. 

Past seasons in which meteorological factors were similar to those forecast for this winter recorded as little as 2.8 inches of snow in 1972-1973 and 51.4 inches in 2009-2010. Normal snowfall for the area for the period from 1991 to 2020 is 29.8 inches.

Forecasting snowfall can be difficult, said David Stark, weather service decision support leader. Bands of heavy snow can be as narrow as 20 miles across, yielding sharply different totals over a relatively small area. And storms often start a snow that turns into rain. The timing of that changeover might mean the difference between 1-2 inches of snow or 4-6, but may not be predictable until a few hours in advance.

Last winter, Central Park had no days with at least an inch of snow, with the last snowfall of at least 1 inch in the park recorded on Feb. 13, 2022, according to the weather service. Long Island ended its snowless streak last winter on Feb. 27 when 1.8 inches of snow fell at Long Island MacArthur Airport after 354 days without at least 1 inch of snow.

Surveying past major winter storms on Long Island and in New York City, Stark cited record snowfalls as long ago as 1888, when a blizzard dumped up to 50 inches of snow on some locations.

But, he warned, “you don’t need to have much snow to cause major tie-ups and headaches.”

An early season snowstorm on Nov. 15, 2018, dumped 4.3 inches of snow on Islip and 6.4 inches of snow on New York City but paralyzed roads and transit in much of the area. Stark illustrated the condition with a screenshot of a Google map showing traffic patterns that day: nearly all major roads in the city and suburbs were outlined in red, the color of gridlock.

National Weather Service meteorologists expect the coming months will bring warmer than average temperatures and more storms to the East Coast than last year’s winter, a mixed bag for Long Island.

“The main story is that, for the northern tier of the continental United States, there’s the expectation that temperatures will run above average,” said Jay Engle, a weather service winter team leader, in an online briefing for reporters on Thursday.

December is likely to be warmer than January and February, with March warmer than normal, meteorologists said. There is no strong signal about major cold outbreaks, driven by winds miles above the earth’s surface, that sometimes drive frigid air from northern and central Canada south into the continental United States. Precipitation is expected to reach near normal levels, or slightly above.

Those “long-lead” outlooks are based on weather data stretching back decades and current observations of the volatile El Niño system, a global climate pattern that affects the jet stream and ocean temperatures and generally indicates warmer, wetter weather. They do not account for “shorter term and potentially large fluctuations from the averages,” according to National Weather Service guidance. 

Past seasons in which meteorological factors were similar to those forecast for this winter recorded as little as 2.8 inches of snow in 1972-1973 and 51.4 inches in 2009-2010. Normal snowfall for the area for the period from 1991 to 2020 is 29.8 inches.

Forecasting snowfall can be difficult, said David Stark, weather service decision support leader. Bands of heavy snow can be as narrow as 20 miles across, yielding sharply different totals over a relatively small area. And storms often start a snow that turns into rain. The timing of that changeover might mean the difference between 1-2 inches of snow or 4-6, but may not be predictable until a few hours in advance.

Last winter, Central Park had no days with at least an inch of snow, with the last snowfall of at least 1 inch in the park recorded on Feb. 13, 2022, according to the weather service. Long Island ended its snowless streak last winter on Feb. 27 when 1.8 inches of snow fell at Long Island MacArthur Airport after 354 days without at least 1 inch of snow.

Surveying past major winter storms on Long Island and in New York City, Stark cited record snowfalls as long ago as 1888, when a blizzard dumped up to 50 inches of snow on some locations.

But, he warned, “you don’t need to have much snow to cause major tie-ups and headaches.”

An early season snowstorm on Nov. 15, 2018, dumped 4.3 inches of snow on Islip and 6.4 inches of snow on New York City but paralyzed roads and transit in much of the area. Stark illustrated the condition with a screenshot of a Google map showing traffic patterns that day: nearly all major roads in the city and suburbs were outlined in red, the color of gridlock.

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Charges in Hempstead homicide ... NYC congestion pricing ... Wyandanch library custodian fired ... Yankees spring training 

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