Colder winter may lead to warmer summer
KITTANNING -- Don't plan to put away the snow shovels just yet, but you might think about checking on the air conditioners.
When will the coldest air of this season end• Meteorologist Paul Pastelok of AccuWeather, State College, said that while some bitter cold temperatures are expected this coming weekend, the area should see a moderating trend toward the middle of February. By "moderating," however, Pastelok said that temperatures from the middle to the last week of February will be slightly below normal but not as cold as the past few weeks.
"Toward the end of February we're expecting another blast of Arctic air and much colder temperatures." Pastelok said. "As for an end to the cold spell, that might not really come about until March, when we'll see more average March temperatures. So March will be an 'in-between' month. However, April should mark the start of some above average temperatures that will set the tone for the summer."
Pastelok said normal day-time April temperatures are in the 50s at the beginning of the month and in the 60s toward the month's end. But this year, AccuWeather is predicting April temperatures to be about 5 to 10 degrees above the norm. The above normal trend will continue through May and the remainder of the summer.
"We expect summer temperatures to average 1.5 degrees above normal," he said. "That translates to days about 10 degrees or so above the average."
Pastelok said AccuWeather meteorologists often are asked what is causing the extreme weather changes witnessed this winter. He said an overall answer is the effect of a weakening El Nino current in the South Pacific and abnormal shifts in jet stream patterns.
"We had a similar winter in 1993 and 1994," he said. "Extremely mild temperatures in the Eastern U.S. gave way to major winter storms and cold. Like this year, we saw one of the coldest snaps on record during Feb. 1 to 10 in 1996. These years all follow the same pattern.
"The El Nino current that gave us a mild winter, weakened," he said. "While it was active, it kept the northern jet stream far up in the Arctic, above parts of Alaska, and flowing from west to east. and it couldn't dip down to the Eastern U.S. When El Nino weakened, the jet stream reversed direction, split, and came farther south. So the places that were warm became unusually cold and where it had been cold, the temperatures moderated."
Pastelok said this year's jet stream patterns are very complicated, however, he and fellow AccuWeather long-range forecast expert Joe Bastardi, feel confident that their observations and resulting predictions will hold true.
"Joe and I felt that El Nino would weaken and reversals would happen, and it did," Pastelok said.
He added that snow currently covering about 60-percent of the northern tier of the U.S. will contribute to cold temperatures.
"Snow cover enhances cold air," he said, "When the ground stays cold air masses stay cold, so this winter won't go away quickly. Don't expect Punxsutawney Phil to see his shadow any time soon. However, if you're a hot weather fan you might like this summer."
Pastelok said interest in long-range weather forecasts is growing, and he and Bastardi are planning to release more long- range weather data this spring for AccuWeather Web site viewers. AccuWeather's global headquarters is in a 52,000- square-foot building on 6.5 acres near State College and has been providing detailed weather information and long-range forecasts to business, industry and media outlets around the world since 1971. Readers may visit AccuWeather's Web site at: www.accuweather. com.