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Chilly But Normal Winter in the Forecast, AccuWeather Expert Says

by on October 11, 2017 5:00 AM

Last January and February saw unusual, and unexpected, mild temperatures in Central Pennsylvania, and while AccuWeather experts say weather patterns looks similar to last winter, this year's should see a return to normal.

"We say a chilly winter compared to last year," said Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather lead long-range forecaster. "If you’re forecasting close to normal temperatures for a three-month period, that’s generally going to give you a chilly winter [in Centre County]... If you look at the forecast on paper, this is what it should be like around here."

The season likely will get off to a slow start. Pastelok said he is watching a couple of systems that could bring cold snaps in late October and mid-November but otherwise, heading into December, temperatures should be above normal.

"I can’t rule out one or two freakish storms here that we could get some colder weather or some snow but to me it looks like your typical slow start and picking up as you get to the latter part of December and into January," Pastelok said.

Temperatures are expected to be a little below normal in January and around average in February. So compared to last year, which only saw one real cold snap in January, it will feel a bit chillier.

But it's not what Pastelok would call a cold winter, which would see average temperatures three or four degrees below normal.

Snowfall, meanwhile is expected to be slightly above normal. With a weak La Niña in the Pacific, Pastelok said the northern branch of the jet stream tends to take over and bring systems out of Canada with 1 to 3-inch snowfalls.

"I’m anticipating a slightly above normal season for us," Pastelok said. "Just because we’re going to get a lot of nuisance systems for awhile and an occasional one or two big systems come up. And that will go on through the mid and latter part of winter."

The coldest air is expected to settle in over the northern Plains and Rockies, which is typical with a weak La Niña. Those areas have already seen cold air and snow.

"They’re getting a head start on winter and for us it’s another delay," Pastelok said.

Last year also saw a weak La Niña, and southern California got hit hard by storms, which is unusual, Pastelok explained. Normally, storms would hit farther north. So while last year's unusual movement of Pacific air combined with an upper high from the southeast to bring mild temperatures to the Northeast, Pastelok sees a return to normal this year.

It doesn't seem like it will be a particularly long winter though, much like this past winter which saw a quick warm up in April.

"I don’t want to abandon too much from last year because the actual overall pattern is similar to last year except for a couple things," Pastelok said. "I do see March with some pretty good chilly shots and potential for some snow and then April turns around and we get a shot of milder weather."

Geoff Rushton is managing editor for Contact him at or find him on Twitter at @geoffrushton.
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