NOAA: January through March will likely not be as brutally cold as last year

     (Image: NOAA)

    (Image: NOAA)

    The strongest El Niño season in nearly 20 years, along with a similarly strong polar vortex, are likely to continue keeping frigid air away for prolonged stretches in contrast to the last two winters, NOAA forecasters say.

    According to the latest three-month outlook by the Climate Prediction Center, there’s between a 40 and 50 percent chance of above normal temperatures through March.

    The outlook, of course, does not imply that temperatures will continue at record levels like in recent weeks. Instead, it’s a probability assessment of a departure from an average.

    In Toms River, the average daytime high is 40.8, 44, and 50.5 on the 15th of January, February, and March, respectively.

    The projection is also broad, meaning that a digging trough — colder air from the north — or a ridge — warmer air from the south — can occur through the months at any given time. Forecasters still expect bouts of frigid air. 

    During the same period, the Climate Prediction Center is calling or a 33 to 40 percent change of above normal precipitation.

    Accordingly, snow is always a possibility if a storm system coincides with a cold air mass.

    But New Jersey state climatologist Dave Robinson tells NewsWorks that we’re not likely to experience the prolonged cold snaps like we had during the last two winters.

    “We’re not going to be getting into patterns later this winter where we lock in cold air for weeks on end,” he said. “It’s not to say that we’re not going to have some cold weeks. It’s not to say that we’re going to see some flakes flying at some points.”

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    NewsWorks’ Phil Gregory contributed to this report.

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