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Terry Eliasen

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A stormy Sunday and a look ahead to the winter

Saturday will be a terrific day to get out and about, find your Christmas tree, or do some decorating in the yard.

Clouds will be on the move and increasing Saturday night and some light rain showers are likely by Sunday morning, especially south of the Pike.

Sunday will be a grey day with periods of light rain, nothing all that impactful.

The heavier rain arrives just after dark Sunday evening and continues through the overnight hours.

There could be pockets of street flooding in some of the heavier downpours overnight into early Monday morning.

Rainfall totals will range between 1 – 1.5″ in most of southern New England.

Winds are not a huge concern but, could gust 25-35mph at the immediate Coastline Sunday night.

Finally, there will be some snow with this storm, mainly up in the mountains of Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.

Some of the higher peaks could receive 3-6″ or even a bit more.  Farther south, near the Monadnock Region, we expect mainly a mix of rain and wet snow and only minor accumulations.

We’re on to December…

But before we get there, I think it is worth taking a deeper dive into November 2023.  There’s an old saying/rule amongst meteorologists that goes something like…”as November goes, so goes the winter”.  Meaning, the weather conditions in November can often be a hint as to what the upcoming winter may be like.

And, because I know that just about all of you would LOVE to know what we are in for this winter, let’s get nerdy for a few minutes!

Putting it simply, November 2023 was dry and chilly, at least compared to averages.

The month is going to finish about 1.7″ below the normal precipitation.  We really only had one or two days with meaningful rainfall.

Perhaps even more interesting, November 2023 will finish with temperatures just shy of 2 degrees below normal.

Anytime we get a below average temperature month these days it seems worth noting.  Interestingly enough, over the last 10 years, exactly half of the Novembers have would up below average.  That is more than any other month, tied with April.  Most months, as you might imagine in this warmer climate, tend to finish above average more often than not with September and December chief among them.

If you go back a bit further since the year 2000, 14 of the 23 Novembers have been below average!  

This begs the question, does a cold November lead to a cold or snowy winter?

I am glad you asked!

For the purposes of this blog, we will look back to all the Novembers and the following winters since the year 2000.

Not including this year, there have been 13 below average Novembers in this span.  10 of the 13 winters that followed had ABOVE average snowfall!  I would say that is a pretty significant correlation!  However, there is a flip side to that coin…in the last 5 years, we had 2 very cold Novembers, not all that different from this year.  In 2019 November temperatures averaged 2.2 degrees below average and in 2018, 2.1 below average and BOTH those winters had very little snowfall.  So, perhaps something has changed in just the last few years?  Does the “November Rule” no longer hold?

POSSIBLE CONCLUSION:  Expect above average snow this winter

Let’s keep digging…

If we look at winter temperatures (Dec-Feb) following cold Novembers, we get a very similar story…

Again, since 2000 there have been 13 colder than average Novembers (not including this year)…9 of the following winters (Dec-Feb) finished with below average temperatures.  Another very interesting correlation!  But again, 2018 and 2019 were outliers.  In fact, Despite a very cold November in 2019, the winter that followed was extremely mild, nearly 5 degrees above the average.

POSSIBLE CONCLUSION:  Expect below average temperatures this winter

What about snow in November? 

Boston did not have any measurable snowfall this November.  This is nothing new.  Since 2000 the City has only measured snow in 5 of 23 Novembers.

When we have a snowless November that leads to about a 66% chance (2 in 3) of a below average snowfall that winter.  (Again since 2000)

In those 5 years when we measured snow in November, 4 of the 5 (80%) had above average snowfall in the winter that followed.

Another pretty good correlation!

POSSIBLE CONCLUSION:  Expect below average snow this winter

Lastly, it has been quite dry in the last few months…might that portend something for the months ahead?

Looking at dry Novembers alone, there have been 15 Novembers with below average precipitation since 2000…7 of the 15 led to below average snow…nothing to see here…

If we take the dry October and Novembers together (Boston will finish more than 4″ below average this Oct/Nov) there is a bigger correlation here…

There have been 8 years since 2000 with October-November stretches that finished 2″ or more below average.  6 of the 8 years had ABOVE average snowfall that winter!

POSSIBLE CONCLUSION:  Expect above average snow this winter

If you are still reading this, I will give you props…this is a lot of data!

Given the November we just had, the quick takeaway would be that odds seem to favor a cold and snowy winter ahead.

But, 2018 and 2019 give me pause and reason to question the data.  How much does climate change and our warming oceans play a part in all of this?  Are we seeing the ramifications of that now?  Not to mention, there are several other atmospheric conditions (including a strong El Nino) going on this winter that seem to point towards a milder than average winter.

For now, I will stick by our WBZ winter forecast that we made a few weeks ago.

Despite the cold November, we are forecasting a milder than average and slightly less snowy than average winter.

Seasonal weather forecasting is very challenging.  Native New Englander’s certainly know that our weather can change on a dime, and we need to be prepared for anything.

This weekend seems like as good a time as any to gas up the snowblowers and to ready ourselves for whatever Mother Nature has in store for us.

The one thing I know for sure, our team is ready to go!

Stick with WBZ-TV, and CBS News Boston all winter long, we got your back!

Click here for Westford snow storm data and past totals or select “Winter Snowfall“ under “Pages” on the left hand side.

For more up to date forecast information follow me on Twitter (@terrywbz) or follow the WBZ weather team on Facebook, search WBZWeather

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