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New York City might not see big snowfall this winter, forecasters say

Forecast amount of snow remains slightly below historical average of 29.8 inches for NYC

By Brian Lada, Accuweather.com
AccuWeather is predicting 18-26 inches of snow in New York City this winter, slightly below the historical average of 29.8 inches. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
1 of 3 | AccuWeather is predicting 18-26 inches of snow in New York City this winter, slightly below the historical average of 29.8 inches. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Cool, crisp autumn weather has taken hold across the Northeast, and it is only a matter of time before Old Man Winter pays a visit with cold, snowy weather.

A lopsided winter will likely unfold this year in the New York City area, but that doesn't mean that residents should put off digging their snow shovels and winter coats out of storage.

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Meteorological winter officially gets underway on Friday, Dec. 1, while astronomical winter starts on the solstice, which takes place this year at 10:27 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 21.

Here's what people in the Big Apple can expect this winter:

•Arctic air blasted the Northeast just two days after the December solstice, causing temperatures to tumble to some of the lowest readings of the entire season. On Dec. 24, the high temperature in New York City was only 15 degrees, accompanied by lows in the single digits and AccuWeather RealFeel® Temperatures well below zero.

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•The first snow of the season did not fall until Feb. 1, when 0.4 of an inch accumulated in Central Park, the latest first measurable snow since record-keeping began in 1869. Shovels gathered dust with the seasonal snowfall totaling just 2.3 inches, significantly below the historical average of 29.8 inches and the lowest seasonal total on record.

•"There is a chance that this winter can be snowy in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic," AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. "The season can start slow and sluggish but pick up late in the season due to big storm development."

Shades of the past: AccuWeather experts say the anticipated weather patterns this upcoming winter have similarities to the winter of 2009-2010. During that season, New York City measured 51.4 inches of snow, including 36.9 inches in February alone. Early-season storm? Pastelok added that there is the chance for a nor'easter in November although it will not likely be as significant as storms later in January and February.

•AccuWeather is predicting 18-26 inches of snow in New York City this winter, slightly below the historical average of 29.8 inches. It might take only one storm to surpass last winter's snowfall total.

•While snowfall totals are forecast to be much higher compared to last winter, the frequency of snowfall may not be that much higher. Last winter, accumulating snow fell on only four days. This upcoming winter, the number of snow days is predicted to be between four and seven.

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•The heating demand in the New York City area will be lower than the historical average due to the lack of long-lived cold snaps during the first half of the winter.

El Niño will be a driving factor throughout the season, as the warm water in the Pacific Ocean will reshape the jet stream and ultimately the path of winter storms across North America. The emergence of El Niño followed three consecutive winters with La Niña when cooler waters near the equator of the Pacific Ocean influenced the weather in New York City -- and across the country.

•Skiers and snowboarders planning trips to resorts across the Northeast can expect good conditions this year. There could be periods during the first half of the winter when conditions will be challenging for resorts to make artificial snow, but this will be balanced out by colder air and an uptick in snowstorms during the second half of the season.

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