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Where's Winter?

It's been a mild start to the 2022-2023 winter to say the least. There was one cold weekend this winter, and it was cold. Christmas 2022 was among the coldest Christmases in decades in many places of New England. But it warmed back up, and warmed back up quickly.

At the stroke of the new year just one week later, it was in the 50s. At midnight. Just before the Christmas cool down, it hit the 60s in places as a powerful storm brought conditions more indicative of a hurricane than a blizzard. There's a new storm making it's way into the region for the end of this week. It's going to be in the 50s in southern New England and pouring during that storm.

So far, this has been a top 10 warmest start to the year on record across New England and in many cities, 2023 is in the top 5. Last week, two ski areas in New England had to close temporarily because of the warmth and lack of snow. Even the mighty Killington was forced to close some terrain. Killington acknowledged the weather, stating this on their Facebook page:

"We need to address the elephant in the room. 2023 has been characterized by rough weather so far. Fortunately, things are starting to turn around for the better, and our snowmaking team is up to the task to improve conditions and expand our open terrain."

All of New England, along with the entire northeast is well below average for snowfall this year. The White and Green mountains are more than a foot lower than average. Boston and Burlington are more than a foot off the mark. Even Caribou, Maine, way up in the northern tip of the region is below average. The only outlier in the northeast is Buffalo, as the city has been clobbered by two massive lake effect events this season.

This pattern is not likely to change in the immediate future, either. NOAA is predicting above average temperatures over the next two weeks, which would take us toward the end of January. As seen by the map below, New England has a very high 80-90% chance of being above average through January 24.

The pattern has put New England on the 'warm side' of storms, bringing windswept rain instead of blowing snow. In this pattern, lows track inland through New England and the St. Lawrence River Valley. This allows winds to come from the south, bringing in mild air. It also forces cold air out quickly, as seen by the hasty retreat of the Christmas cold.

It's not all bad news for snow lovers, though. Yes, this is not ideal weather for the dead of winter, but not all hope is lost for the lover of flakes. It can snow in a mild pattern. With the coldest temps of the year coming at this time of year, even mild temps are relative. Snow can sneak in. Look at the storm coming later this week.

Northern New England will likely see snow at the beginning and end with rain in between. 6-10 inches is possible in spots. That will help eat away at the deficit. Southern New England, on the other hand, will remain much too warm for any snow this time.

Some more good news for winter lovers: a jet stream pattern flip could occur toward the end of this month. This flip would end the train of storms currently hitting the beleaguered California while allowing cold air to enter the northeast. A problem for this flip is that the strong jet stream flow in the west will be hard to break down, so it is possible that the flip will be delayed.

One last piece of positivity for our winter lovers. Just because the overall temp pattern is well above average, that does not mean that every day will be mild. It's New England. In even the warmest of patterns in January, cold will sneak in some way or another on some days.

For our summer lovers, enjoy this while it lasts, because we are only approaching the mid point of the winter. The pattern will change before winter is over, but for now, winter will continue to be dormant for the most part.

To answer the question of where winter is: it's out west. While we have been trapped on the mild side of the jet stream, the west has been trapped on the colder side. Some peaks in the Sierra Nevada range have already seen 200 plus inches of snow. Some peaks are approaching season averages already. Mammoth Mountain's summit has seen over 350 inches so far. Contrasting Killington's Facebook message, Mammoth posted this message on their page:

"It's been an absolutely massive few weeks at Mammoth Mountain with mega-storm after mega-storm. Mammoth has already received 20 feet of snow at their Main Lodge this season with totals up to 30 feet over the summit."

February is on average New England's snowiest month. That is when blockbuster blizzards are most likely to enter our region and with a jet stream flip possible at the end of the month, New England's end to winter could be very different from the start.



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