Late last week the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), issued their winter weather outlook. In the Northeast, it calls for equal chances of both above and below average temperatures and precipitation.
Here at CNYcentral, we deal more with day to day forecasting. Meteorologist Matt Stevens wanted to get the perspective of someone who works more with the big picture. So he headed down to Cornell University to visit their Northeast Regional Climate Center.
Cornell University Professor Dr. Art DeGaetano says the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO) controls our weather, especially in the winter. "When we have a snowy winter, the NAO tends to be in its negative phase. When we have a warm winter, it tends to be in its positive phase. Unfortunately, it's not very predictable," he said.
Many people might think of El Nino when it comes to climate predictions or season outlooks. However, Dr. DeGaetano says there isn't a good El Nino signal in the northeast. "I think one of the reasons behind that is because we also have the large Atlantic Ocean kind of right on our back door," he said.
Even though El Nino doesn't play a big role locally, the NAO does, but it's still hard to predict the seasonal outlook.
"The physics of it, why it happens, are not all that well known," Dr. DeGaetano says. "We know it happens, we see it in the observations, but actually pinpointing why it happens, or knowing the physical processes that are in place is still a very active area of research."