It feels like winter has been here for a while, with -10 degrees as the morning low the other day. However, today is the official first day of winter. According to the Almanac:
If you were hoping for a reprieve from harsh winter weather this year, we have some news that just might make you smile. We’re predicting a light winter for most of us here in the United States, with warmer-than-normal temperatures in the forecast for a large part of the country.
Uncommonly chilly temperatures will be limited mostly to the western states and northeastern New England. Specifically, winter will be colder than normal in Maine; the Intermountain, Desert Southwest, and Pacific Southwest regions; and eastern Hawaii and above normal elsewhere.
On the precipitation side of things, expect “wet” to be a wintertime constant, with rain or average to below-average snowfall to be the standard throughout most of the country.
Specifically, precipitation will be below normal from Delmarva into North Carolina; in the southern Appalachians, Georgia, and Florida from the Ohio Valley westward to the Pacific and southward to the Gulf and Mexico; and in western Hawaii and above or near normal elsewhere.
Snowfall will be greater than normal in the Northeast, Wisconsin, Upper Michigan, the High Plains, and northern Alaska and below normal in most other areas that receive snow.
It looks like all of us here in New England are looking at colder than average temperatures and more snowfall than usual. Since we did not get the average snowfall here in New England last year, it would be an excellent year for Vermont’s ski resorts if it wasn’t for the pandemic. Considering anyone entering Vermont from another state must quarantine for 14 days, I doubt the ski resorts will be very busy with out-of-staters. Many people would probably ignore the 14-day quarantine, but the governor is having undercover investigators checking up on resorts to make sure they are following the rules. If the resorts are repeatedly ignoring the rules, they will be warned first; then, they could face fines if they do not heed the warnings.
Suppose you want something more scientific than the Almanac as a predictor of winter. In that case, NOAA’s winter forecast for the U.S. favors warmer, drier conditions across the southern tier of the U.S., and cooler, wetter conditions in the North, thanks in part to an ongoing La Nina. Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center — a division of the National Weather Service — are also closely monitoring persistent drought during the winter months ahead, with more than 45% of the continental U.S. now experiencing drought. Currently, large areas of drought extend over the western half of the U.S., with parts of the Northeast also experiencing drought and near-record low stream flows. With a La Nina climate pattern in place, southern parts of the U.S. may experience expanded and intensifying drought during the winter months ahead.