Bagioni: Record El Niño Could Make Winter a ‘Wild Ride’

Meteorologists worldwide are talking about the powerful El Niño that has formed over the Pacific Ocean and saying it will drive this winter’s weather across the United States.

John Bagioni, meteorologist of Fax Alert Weather Service, has updated his take on the winter ahead in an exclusive follow-up to the long-term forecast he wrote in the October issue of Oil & Energy.

“The large-scale weather pattern trends as we were heading into early December showed a transition into an increasingly volatile jet stream regime,” Bagioni wrote. “The strong El Niño is clearly going to be the main weather driver for the North American sector for the first part of the winter, but there are other features already showing signs of having some say in the final outcome.

“It seems increasingly likely that the El Niño will produce a very potent early winter storm season. This does not necessarily mean snow for the Northeast, but some disruptive winter storm activity is a growing concern over the next few weeks across the central and southern U.S., as well as portions of the East and Northeast. How much if any snow falls will be a function of the air mass that has settled in across the eastern U.S. prior to each storm’s arrival.

“While the strong El Nino will provide some moderate to strong warming periods across the eastern U.S. during the early portion of the winter, there are already signs that western ridge formation will pop from time to time. This means the potential for at least a couple of strong cold air intrusions into the Northeast sector of the country will be in play during December, actually starting at the end of November, even though overall December is still favored to average above normal.

“I have no changes to my belief that the winter pattern will try to transition into a colder one during mid-January; with February holding the promise of the coldest period. While it is unlikely we could ever match what happened last winter from mid-January onward, the mid- to late-winter pattern could see a decided trend back to at least sustained normal winter cold. The bottom line is this winter looks more and more likely to feature a wild ride.”


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