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Winter Forecast Update...

By: Zachary Labe , 11:53 PM GMT on October 08, 2008

Winter Forecast 2008-2009 Update (December, January, February)

(Typical Winter Scene in Pennsylvania taken February 24 of last winter)

Well Happy October. No this blog is not a new winter forecast, nor is it any modification on my original winter forecast, which was released Labor Day Weekend and can be found on this Link. This blog is an update on how things are going for accuracy for my forecast and an update on some other winter forecasts that have just been released this month. I am pleased to say everything is going according to forecast so far. Northern areas received their first frosts in late September and most other areas saw their first frosts this first week in October. The Philadelphia, Erie, and Pittsburgh Metro areas are the only places yet to see their first frost. The growing season has ended for almost all of the counties north of Interstate 80. October is a month that is typically considered a month where the final ENSO patterns can be discovered, though not always. I release my forecasts very early compared to others and I ride with them without ever making any modifications. When the end of March roles around I will definitely make a verification summary on how my forecast turned out. I was extremely pleased with my Summer 2008 forecast as the majority of the areas had below normal temperatures and higher than normal precipitation. The only areas that did not fit this were in eastern Pennsylvania where they received very little rainfall. So for this blog I am going to explore the updates on the CFS Model Forecast, NAO teleconnection, PNA teleconnection, PDO index, ENSO patterns, Arctic ice levels and Canadian snow cover, Atlantic Ocean temperature anomalies, and jet stream patterns. Also I am going to provide some other links to recent winter outlooks just posted. This will be my last update on the winter forecast until next March. O and by the way the first Blizzard Warning of the new season has now been posted for parts of Alaska. Link.

CFS Monthly Temperature Forecast...
As I mentioned in my winter forecast I do look at the occasional CFS model run. The CFS is a computer model that uses 40 ensemble models for long-term weather predictions such as temperatures, precipitation, and soil moisture. I have found that the CFS predictions have been somewhat accurate in the past and even were slightly accurate for the prediction of last winter. For the last two or so weeks the CFS model has been indicating some interesting patterns setting up for the winter time period with a definite troughing situation in the east with below normal temperatures...

From the November through January time period temperatures are well below normal. And then temperatures begin to moderate for the second half of winter. For the most part precipitation totals also come in above normal for most of the winter. To find out more information and forecasts from the CFS model here is a Link. Now I place low confidence in any long term weather model or climatic forecast model, but I am just displaying the forecast because I found it to be quite interesting.

NAO Teleconnective Pattern...
A major part in my winter forecast is the forecast of a negative NAO for a majority of the winter. For the last few winters including last winter the main reason we did not see a Nor'easter was the fact that we were under the influence of a positive NAO. Then when the NAO dropped sharply negative in March a major coastal formed, but when out to sea. That was probably my largest forecast bust I have had forecasting here on the blogs, but I think everyone learned a lot of winter storms from trying to pinpoint that storm. Link to my blog on that storm... Link. For ideal coastal storm conditions I find that a transition from a negative to a neutral NAO does not cause too much suppression for winter storms traveling up the coast. One thing that is sometimes overlooked is long-term NAO patterns. There are definite long-term PNA patterns and that is called the PDO. I will talk about this in a section below. But there is no decadal index for long-term NAO patterns. It seems the NAO is much more transitionable than other patterns. But looking at the overall scheme of the last several months pretty much since late April we have been under the influence of a generally negative NAO...

I believe this NAO pattern will continue to persist through much of the winter and balance out conditions in the Pacific that may or may not be favorable for colder conditions in the east. Also one other thing I want to mention that typically comes up in the winter when talking about Nor'easters is Greenland Blocking. Take a look at the 0z GFS forecast for 10-14days out this October...

This is the exact setup we are going to want to look for this winter with a cold high pressure over Greenland funneling cold air down the east coast and providing a high pressure to the north to filter the cold air down I-95 when snowstorms come. If this pattern persists it could be a pretty snowy winter.

PNA Teleconnective Patterns...
I do not have much to mention on the current PNA pattern as it is all over the place for the past few months and I do not really see a trend for long term. Short-term trends suggest a generally positive PNA...

But really there is no consistency. Generally for colder than normal eastern USA conditions we look for a positive PNA.

PDO Index...
This is one forecast index I did not mention in my original winter forecast, which I probably should have. I have not ever talked about the PDO index in my blog before so here is a quick summary. The PDO index is a decadal look at north Pacific sea temperature anomalies. Generally in cooler phases (negative) conditions are warmer across the east coast and with warmer than normal phases temperatures are cooler (positive). Also one might say that the PDO is a decadal pattern look at the PNA index. Generally as a whole during negative periods winters have been warmer than normal and with positive periods we have had some very cold conditions. But there are exceptions and with a negative NAO it can balance out the PDO forecast of warmer than normal conditions. Current PDO index...

This is one of two scenarios I am concerned about my winter forecast being busted. But I feel the negative NAO will offset the PDO. Also there have been some signs in the Pacific of shifting SSTs to other locations, which may be a sign that the PDO is shifting more towards lower negative numbers. Here is a Link for more information concerning the PDO index.

Current ENSO Discussion...
Not much has changed with the recent forecast for the ENSO pattern, which still remains up for grabs and is the second factor in potentially busting this colder than normal winter. Here is a look at SST anomalies...

As you can see there is not many changes and it still appears that slightly negative anomalies are ruling the roost. A look at some of the ensemble models in the CFS suite shows a return to La Nina like pattern...

Overall my forecast does call for winter La Nina conditions to persist through the winter. But I would not be surprised if a La Nina is never official as anomalies will not be very negative by any means.

Arctic Ice Levels and Canadian Snow Cover...
This is a new topic recently gathering my attention as the nights become longer and global temperatures begin to cool so it is time to look at Arctic ice conditions. There has been recently very cold conditions persisting near the North Pole, which has brought a quick upswing in new ice pack being built up. As you can see it is much more in surface area than it was at this time last year...

This is a very optimistic sign to show that cold air will be able to build up across the polar regions before swinging down through the United States. Snow pack is beginning to build back up through Canada, with very close snow cover conditions to this time last year. One thing though different is more snowfall in the mountains this year compared to last year. Also recently snow has been reported in many places from central Alaska on up to the northern third of Alaska. Winter has already made its mark on that region.

Atlantic Sea Surface Temperature Anomalies...
With many I-95 corridor residents feeling lost during the winter time as easterly flows draw in warmer waters, many people are left wondering how on average temperatures for the waters relate to normal...

Conditions look generally to be near normal to slightly above normal currently with the start of October. But definitely through much of August and September they were well above normal. But with the remnants of no name coastal storm and Tropical Storm Hanna; sea surface temperatures have been dropping back to normal.

Jet Stream Flow...
I do not believe there is really any method to forecast what the jet stream will be like during the winter time period. But there does seem to be a more favorable pattern with polar vortices already beginning to setup in more favorable patterns. And I thought I would share this afternoon's 12z GFS forecast for the 25th of October. That is one of the steepest troughs I have seen the GFS forecast in October this year. The 0C isotherm is as far south as the South Carolina/Georgia border. This is the 500mb chart...

Concluding Thoughts...
Well this is about all the information I used to make my winter forecast and this was an update on all of the indices. I will now let my forecast ride through all of winter. Whether my forecast turns out right or wrong I am looking forward to forecasting with others on the blogs hoping to have a great winter blog season. Feel free to always post your thoughts and I would love hearing your winter predictions. Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy discussion. I hope I made it as unscientifically as possible to make it easy to understand. The only forecast I do not do in analog years. Here are some links to other winter forecasts... If you have any other links to major winter forecasts please leave them in a comment below and again feel free to issue your outlook. I have also read plenty of other amateur and meteorologists forecasts generally on a cold consensus. Again this is the last time I am mentioning my winter forecast until March for a verification time. Have a great day!!!

Accuweather.Com winter forecast... Link.
Accuweather Henry Margusity Winter Forecast... Link.
Accuweather Brett Anderson Winter Forecast... Link
Farmer's Almanac Winter Forecast... Link.
Old Farmer's Almanac Winter Forecast... Link
NOAA Winter Months Temperature Prediction... Link.

Hawk Mountain (Blizzard92)
Hawk Mountain
Hawk Mountain (Blizzard92)
Hawk Mountain
Hawk Mountain (Blizzard92)
Hawk Mountain
Hawk Mountain (Blizzard92)
Hawk Mountain
Hawk Mountain (Blizzard92)
Hawk Mountain

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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35. Zachary Labe
7:45 PM GMT on October 12, 2008
weathergeek5- Good afternoon!!! Blogs sure have been quiet lately, but it is only boring Fall weather. New blog coming maybe tonight on chance of extremely chilly air moving in for the weekend. Sugar maples up this way are peaking right now with brilliant reds. I have a few more pictures to upload later today after my trip to Lake Marburg today in York County.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
34. weathergeek5
7:42 PM GMT on October 12, 2008
Good afternoon blizz. The trees are really starting to turn now with all of the cool weather we have been having. Sorry it has been a while since I popped in been super busy with work and school.
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
33. Zachary Labe
11:21 AM GMT on October 12, 2008
JDinWPA- Good morning!!! Thanks! Yep, I live right on the edge of the ridge and valley region at the base of Blue Mountain. Just about anywhere in Pennsylvania this time of year is just breathtaking. I saw reports that the northern Poconos are seeing peak fall foliage conditions this weekend.
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32. JDinWPA
3:45 AM GMT on October 12, 2008
Hi Bliz. What a nice series of pictures! You don't live too far from the mountain, right? One of these days I'll have to get up to East Brady and take a few pictures from the top of that ridge. The allegheny runs below it making the view just so... scenic. Imagine that! lol. Have a good Sunday.
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31. Zachary Labe
11:11 PM GMT on October 11, 2008
philliesrock- Hey! How are you? I read through the threads, but I do not post there anymore. I mean they are talking about snow already! Anyways I will go look through. Hope to see you posting here this winter. Have a nice evening!!!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
30. philliesrock
10:44 PM GMT on October 11, 2008
Hey there Blizz...

I'm on Accuweather Forums and my username is I-95blizzard. I've seen you on that forum so I'm wondering if you've seen my winter forecast. If not, go to the Winter Outlook thread and go through the last 7-10 pages to see my outlook, and my reasoning.
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29. Zachary Labe
9:52 PM GMT on October 11, 2008
I was up at Hawk Mountain today and it was a beautiful day. I will upload my pictures tonight.
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28. Zachary Labe
1:48 PM GMT on October 11, 2008
shoreacres- Good morning!!! That is great to hear that the wildlife is returning! Those osprey are just so graceful. I believe most of the Canadian geese up this way have headed south; I have not seen many flocks of them in quite a while. Thanks for stopping in and I hope you have a beautiful fall weekend!
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27. shoreacres
1:41 AM GMT on October 11, 2008
Hi, Bliz,

Just dropping by to look at your pretty charts again, and admire your photos. I finally saw an osprey today - first one since the hurricane. So now I've got a count of one osprey, one red-tail and one Mexican eagle. I'm sure there are more around, but they aren't abundant.

I saw two really large vees of geese a couple of days ago, just honking away and hauling tail to the west. All of their feeding grounds between Houston and Beaumont are probably ruined - they're going to have to fly a little more for their dinner this year!

Have a great weekend!
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26. Zachary Labe
1:29 AM GMT on October 11, 2008
WxWyz- Have a nice evening!!! Blogs are being temporarily shut down tonight for some maintenance by the developers. Maybe if we are lucky we will get some new blog features.
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25. WxWyz
12:14 AM GMT on October 11, 2008
I always check your blog. Look forward to seeing them.
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24. Zachary Labe
12:13 AM GMT on October 11, 2008
charlesimages- I wonder what the final tornado count will be this year after a record breaking Spring?

WxWyz- Lol. Well your time will come, probably during the time everything up here is a dull brown. Check back later tomorrow, I am going to try to get some nice fall color pictures from the area mountainsides just south of the Poconos. Should be pretty nice.
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23. WxWyz
12:10 AM GMT on October 11, 2008
Okay Blizzard, you just HAD to drop by my blog and rub your beautiful Fall colors in my face! :)
That sounds really nice. We are not seeing any real significant color changes here yet except in a few of the outlying areas. It's still early for us and if anything, we're apt to get more tropical the next few days with low's in the low 60's and highs in the low 80's. Maybe a few storms by Monday.
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22. charlesimages
11:59 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
Yeah I know it is, I will have to wait until Spring now...

Sorry I took so long, I was having an issue with some programs on my pc, had to go in and restore some things etc...
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21. Zachary Labe
11:23 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
charlesimages- Sorry to say severe weather season is over. Though there have been some extremely strong severe weather outbreaks in Autumn across the Great Lakes and Northeast, but time is running out. The latest severe weather outbreak to occur across Pennsylvania was December 1, 2006. That was quite an outbreak with a F-1 tornado reported about 10miles north of me; sadly there was a fatality also. And there were several other tornadoes reported across the state. Link.
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20. charlesimages
11:17 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
Color is just starting to really show now, there was a couple trees before, but now there are a bunch. I want to see if I can get down to the lake again maybe Monday... I have been taking ix, just haven't been uploading much, partly because my internet only uploads just so much, oh and the fact that there has been no weather really, it was sunny, then cloudy with rain, then sunny.. I WANT STORMS AGAIN!
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19. Zachary Labe
11:15 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
charlesimages- Yep, might get to 80degrees here sometime this weekend or early next week. How's the fall foliage out your way? I haven't seen any pictures from you lately, and fall is definitely one of the best times to snap some great fall pictures.
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18. charlesimages
11:11 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
Did you see the 12z GFS for late October.

Unfortunately yes... LOL

Yeah we could approach 80F this week, it's going to feel perfect =)
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17. Zachary Labe
11:10 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
charlesimages- Good evening!!! Lol, enjoy it while it last. Did you see the 12z GFS for late October. Talk about cold! Anyways yes today was an amazing day in the 70s. Still though I wish it was in the 60s. I love that cool, crisp air.
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16. charlesimages
11:00 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
But but.. I don't want winter yet =(

I am enjoying the 70s and sunshine!!
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15. Zachary Labe
10:51 PM GMT on October 10, 2008
***Beautiful evening outside with crisp, falling temperatures and low dewpoints. Skies are clear as far as the eye can see. Fall foliage is beginning to even more sharply change around the state, especially in maple tree prone areas. It should be a pretty cold night and I would not rule out freezes across the far north and some frosts elsewhere so if you are in a place that radiates well, take precautions just in case of a frost. So yet again tomorrow I am going to try to head to Hawk Mountain. At least there is not any threatening weather headed our way any time soon. O and by the way look out in the Western United States at the first major winter storm of the season. Some of the mountains in Wyoming could see up to 4ft of snow.
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14. Zachary Labe
12:52 AM GMT on October 10, 2008
hurigo- Thanks. I guess if the lemon tree was the only damage you faced with Hanna, then I guess it is a good thing in a way. Traveling across flat states such as Kansas, I just do not think I could ever live in a flat area. I just love the beauty of the daunting and towering mountains in the distance. I believe in that creek is the remnants of an old bridge to a boy scout camp. The creek runs up through the Pennsylvania Grand Canyon. It is part of the famous Pine Creek Gorge... Link.
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13. hurigo
12:38 AM GMT on October 10, 2008
Hello Blizz,
Thanks for stopping by and looking at my pitiful Hannah-damaged lemon tree.

Your blog is so pretty. I have to admit I haven't read every word but that picture is surely captivating. I don't care for hills, mountains much, but if there is running water it makes all the difference in the world. That picture of the snowy banks and the running water is very refreshing.

It looks to me that there is a tree stump in the stream. Are my eyes deceiving me?
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12. Zachary Labe
8:03 PM GMT on October 09, 2008
jitterymoose- Good afternoon!!! First snow of the season is always so exciting. I was out in the beautiful state of Wyoming late summer, and I bet it can get pretty wicked with blowing snows across the open plains between the mountains. I was through Laramie, Cheyenne, Jackson Hole, and Yellowstone. I see that it is already lightly snowing in Jackson Hole at 34degrees. Enjoy your first snow and thanks for stopping by in my blog!
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11. jitterymoose
6:54 PM GMT on October 09, 2008
Gearing up for the first snowstorm of the season this weekend (should start tomorrow night and go through the weekend -- of course!). Revised figures for Carbon County WY down to 2"-6" (from 3"-8"), but now they're thinking most of the snow will move north of the Laramie Range.

Still.... it's about 2 weeks early. Fairbanks had measureable snow that stayed around toward the mid-end of September. That was early, too. The earliest snow we saw up there (that stayed around) was 21 Oct.

Hoping for more of a "normal" winter here than last year, but then again, they seeded the clouds again over the Snowy Range and I wonder if that had something to do with the massive snowfalls of Dec/Jan/Feb/Mar that wouldn't go away. :-)
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10. Zachary Labe
12:36 PM GMT on October 09, 2008
WxWyz- Yep when thunderstorms typically move through our area they are usually with a front/squall line. The most severe thunderstorms I have seen up here have always been cellular. Norbert looks pretty strong and is sort of headed your direction.

shoreacres- Lol. I have been wanting to stop by your new blog, so hopefully today I will have a chance. I am happy to hear you finally got your rain and a taste of fall. It will be a little warmer the next 5 days here in the north, before colder air moves in again late next week. Thanks for stopping by!

TheRasberryPatch- They probably will continue to dry up. When clipper systems move through they typically reinforce very cold air that was in our area just a few days ago. So usually the air is very dry and the mountains suck up any moisture possible with the clipper. But still with the stronger clipper some areas can always receieve up to 5inches of snow in counties like Adams, Franklin, Cumberland, and York. It seems eastern Pennsylvania hardly ever gets anything.

JDinWPA- Well thankyou. It is an enjoyment of mine to spend time on each of my blogs. Lol, I think you said the same thing about not looking foward to a colder than normal temperatures back in summer when I put out my forecast. Just some drizzle here last night. Hardly any rain here this month, but for some reason it does not seem dry.
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9. JDinWPA
2:55 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
Hi Bliz. Good work on the blog. I don't think we thank you enough for all the time and effort you put into your writing and forecsts. But I'm having a hard time being thankful for the cold and snowy winter prediction. Not two of my most favorite words. lol.

We got .41" of rain today for a mtd of .93". The most interesting part of today's weather is the fact that the temp has risen 1.6 degrees since 5 PM. The high for the day is right now at 11PM. I know it's not that unusual, still, it's kind of cool when it does happen.
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8. TheRasberryPatch
1:23 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
hey Blizz - it would be nice to get some small snowstorms from clipper systems. it seems like most of the time they dry out before they get to us and we might end with an inch or less.
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7. shoreacres
1:21 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
Blizzard ~ I'm just all full of giggles. I sat down to respond to comments on my blog and decided to see what was up with other folk first. When I came to yours, I read, "Writer Forecast Update"! Oops.
You can tell what's been on my mind!

I wonder what a "writer forecast" would look like? Scattered sentence fragments, with occasional patches of insight? LOL!

I am awfully happy with our current conditions - northerly breezes, temps in the 60s tonight, clear skies, low humidity. We're all happy - 'specially since we had some rain yesterday to help wash things off.

Have a great evening. I'm going to have a cup of coffee and try and straighten out my mind.
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6. WxWyz
1:19 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
The convection was very elevated when I took that photo which certainly helped.
If it's surface based or along a frontal passage, there's so much rain and low cloud it's hard to see individual strikes.
Hoping Hurricane Norbert sends us something more interesting than what we were supposed to get a few days ago!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
5. Zachary Labe
1:08 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
WxWyz- That is quite a picture! I cannot remember one thunderstorm this summer actually produce decent lightning. It was definitely a quiet severe weather season here in Pennsylvania.
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4. WxWyz
1:07 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
Only thunderstorms were the ones early Saturday of which I managed to get that photo.
The "Big Show" we were supposed to get Sunday and Monday didn't do a thing here other than spit a little drizzle and light rain.
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3. Zachary Labe
1:03 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
TheRasberryPatch- Good evening!!! Thanks! I was hoping that I could explain all of the indices so during the winter when I mention them for winter storms, everyone knows what they mean. The summer was a very strange one. Remember my tropical type grass for most of the summer, but yet your area was always brown. It seemed that the storms tracked right up the first several mountain ridges of Blue, Second, and Stony Mountains. I think we should have a pretty good snow year with lots of small snows with clipper systems. Also I am thinking the storm track will setup at least once for a decent coastal storm, unlike last winter. As for the short term I am looking at a pretty cold outbreak near Halloween.

WxWyz- Good evening!!! Thanks! We had our share of ice storms last winter, but nothing like the ice storm you guys had out in Oklahoma. Ice storms are definitely the most dangerous form of winter weather condition, and it seems the great plains area always gets hit really hard. Missouri always seems to have bad ice storms also. Any thunderstorms out your way the other night?
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2. WxWyz
12:56 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
Nice blog, Blizzard, as usual.
Get that snow blower ready!
Hoping we don't have another bad ice storm here in the Tulsa area like we did last December.
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1. TheRasberryPatch
12:35 AM GMT on October 09, 2008
nice job with the blog and explaining things and how you came about your forecast, Blizz. the one thing i can mention is that for the summer especially for 6 weeks from the end of July, I got very little rain. I went for 6 weeks of not cutting my grass. I talked to a guy in north londonderry, just north of palmyra and he couldn't believe the difference in his green grass and the brown grass in my area back in the beginning of Sept.
I hope we get some good snow this year. From the sounds of your forecast, I should put up my Christmas lights asap after Thanksgiving. I usually wait until the second weekend in Dec., but if it will be too cold I should do it earlier vs. later.
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Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)

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