Winter outlook in Rochester: 2023-2024
ROCHESTER, N.Y. — We know you want to know what winter is going to be like here in Rochester. Simple question. But to get there, sometimes we have to take the long road, with a few wrong turns or muddle through less than clear directions. And often, our travels take us around the globe!
For example, let’s check out the water in the Pacific Ocean or see what’s happening in the Indian Ocean. Or the extent of the snowpack in Siberia during the fall.
These are all teleconnections, and sometimes can help to lead us down the road to our winter. Most winters we first take a look at something you hear about often: El Nino. During an El Nino, warmer than average water tends to pool in the equatorial Pacific just off of South America.
We are going into an El Nino winter this year.
What can that mean for us? Well, historically, it tends to bring a less amplified jet stream, which can lead to fewer outbreaks of Arctic air. An El Nino pattern tends to lead to a warmer and drier winter season in the Northeast. If you’re thinking that’s a slam dunk for another easy winter, not so fast!
Another teleconnection worth examining is called the Indian Ocean dipole. Simply put, this is the sibling of El Nino, but in the Indian Ocean. There are some indications that a positive IOD, with an El Nino, — like this year — could possibly lean toward average or above average snowfall locally. But, take this with a grain of salt. This teleconnection hasn’t been studied as long as some of the others.
Lastly, Siberian snow cover is another phenomenon that can sometimes influence our winters here in western New York. Some meteorologists have discovered a connection between above average snowfall in Siberia in October to a weaker Polar Vortex, thus leading to more cold outbreaks and snow for the Northeast
So, what does all of this mean for our winter? Well, we’re getting some mixed messages.
We may not be looking at your typical strong El Nino with warmer and drier weather, leading to another wimpy winter. These other factors could lead us down a potentially colder and snowier road than recent winters.
This leads us into our forecast. Although we’re entering into an El Nino winter, these other factors may actually alter what a more typical El Nino would do for us. We may finally be looking at a more typical Rochester winter, with average or even above-average snowfall. The average Rochester winter sees about 100 inches of snow. We may get into it a little quicker than recent years, with a more harsh December and January — which may actually give us a better shot at a white Christmas this year, for those who are hopeful.
Sometimes forecasting Rochester’s weather can be a challenge just three days out, so we’ll see how this three month forecast shakes out! As we say…stay tuned.