The Climate Prediction Center has recently released an "El Niño Notice", which means that a weak El Niño has developed and is expected to continue during the spring months.
El Niño is a climatic pattern where water temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean are rising. This causes some changes in jet stream configuration that can affect weather conditions in the United States.
For western Pennsylvania, the model generally leads to drier and warmer than average conditions, but it should be noted that factors such as other global models and our changing climate may affect the results.
In November, Channel 11 announced for the first time that an El Niño would develop this winter and that it should be weak. Low El Niño usually results in average to slightly above average snowfall.
Looking at the months of January and February combined to date, Pittsburgh displays 1.8 inches above average in falling snow.
With regard to liquid precipitation, including snowmelt, Pittsburgh is almost 2 inches higher than the year-to-date average.
Pittsburgh has been hotter than average this year. January finished 0.9 degrees below average, but the city is 5.3 degrees above average for the month of February.
The Climate Prediction Center forecast predicts an equal probability of below average or above average precipitation in western Pennsylvania and below-average temperatures until April.
El Niño influences are more pronounced during the winter months. It is important to also know that although El Niño generally leads to drier conditions than average in our area, Pittsburgh can still witness periods of heavy rain or even a big snowstorm.
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