Could Polar Vortex be in Our Winter Forecast?

NWS outlook calls for less than normal snow and warmer than normal temps

Tom Puckett
October 22, 2019 - 4:00 am

Buffalo, NY (WBEN) As we enjoyed temperatures in the upper 60s Monday, the meteorologists were behind a curtain looking into their crystal ball and putting the finishing touches on their long range winter forecasts. 

Looking at atmospheric trends, historical statistics and applying the meteorological experience, the weather experts are helping us answer that lingering question; how much snow and how cold will it get?

WBEN 7 First Alert Meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski says a pattern is setting with colder than normal temperatures and above normal snowfall by the end of winter. In fact, two words are coming to mind: polar vortex. "It's a lot of cold air from the North Pole that gets moved down into the Great Lakes and we can expect an active start to 2020," says Mentkowski.

"It looks like we'll see winter start to ramp up as we enter 2020," says Mentkowski, who's looking at several factors. "The global weather pattern, sea surface temperatures, different snow packs from around the world already, La Nina and El Nino," says Mentkowski. 

Polar vortex is a possibility says National Weather Service meteorologist Jason Alumbaugh. "You have to look for troughing to our north, that would bring the cold air across the lower Great Lakes. Those patterns, to try to nail them down, a month at best, is better for the lead time. That's the pattern to watch out for," says Alumbaugh. "With the troughing close by, it doesn't look like any strong ridge is coming, so as long as it's close by, the cold air could give a grazing blow, or you could see it across the eastern part of the country and walk into the deep freeze for a while,"

But right now, Alumbaugh says the pattern favors warmer than normal temperatures and less than average snowfall, based on the official National Weather Service outlook, which came out last week. "You could have potential for up and down weather as far as extremes of weather systems to bring warmer temperatures, but cooler swaths may be normal, but just enough to generate lake effect," explains Alumbaugh. 

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