I live in the Washington D.C metro area and given the wild weather we had this summer, culminating with Hurricane Sandy, I fully expect a cold and snowy winter. In fact, major weather sites like AccuWeather are predicting above average snowfalls this winter for the North East region as shown in the images below. NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center (the primary source for weather data, forecasts and warnings) released their latest 2012-2013 winter outlook which can be summarized as follows:
The lack of an El Niño or a La Niña event heading into winter usually means less predictable U.S. winter climate conditions. Much of the western and southern central United States could be in for a warmer-than-average winter this year, while the upper Midwest and Florida peninsula could experience colder-than-average temperatures. In terms of precipitation this winter, most of California and western Nevada could experience well-below-normal conditions while parts of the southeast could receive well-above-normal precipitation. The rest of the country falls into the “equal chance” category, meaning these areas have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation.
The average snow fall in the North East ranges from 14 to 25 inches, but recent forecasts are saying we could see a range of 20 to 35 inches this winter. I hope they are wrong, but I am preparing for an extreme winter. The good news from the higher than average snowfall though is that areas suffering from drought during the summer will finally get some relief.
Last winter (2011-2012) was very mild where I live with only a few inches of snow and hardly any significant snow on the ground. The year before that was characterized by a few major storms that meant a lot of snow shoveling. So in anticipation of a cold and snowy winter I am seriously thinking of upgrading from a basic snow shovels (though make sure you buy one early) to a snow blower, that is easier on the back when the snow is packed in hard and deep. Obviously snow blowers are much more expensive than shovels, but for less than $200 you can get a pretty decent one.
[Update] Since I started writing this post, I have ordered the Greenworks Electric Snow Blower from Amazon for $160. A friend had ordered it so I was able to see it first hand. It had good reviews and best of all it had a 4-year warranty (so no need to purchase any extended warranty options).