Does an October Snowstorm Mean a Bad Winter’s on the Way?

STATE COLLEGE – People asked AccuWeather.com Monday if an October snowstorm means that the Northeast will have a brutal winter. Will it?

The AccuWeather Long Range Team says that the AccuWeather.com Winter 2011-2012 Forecast still looks good. Chicago and the Midwest will have a more brutal winter than the Northeast.

AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Joe Lundburg thinks that the Oct. 29 storm could start a seriously snowy winter weather pattern.

“When you see a weather pattern start to develop in the fall, [the patterns] tend to repeat themselves throughout the winter,” Lundburg said. “You’re going to see the same thing more than once.”

There is no pattern though, that will tell meteorologists if a snowy October means a snowy winter. Some years with the rare October snowstorm have been followed by wimpy winters and others with rough winters.

“There’s no real correlation between big October snowstorms in the East and rough winters,” AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson explained.

In one case, 1979 was the benchmark October snowstorm whose records the 2011 storm broke. The winter that followed was a dud, with barely enough snow for the Olympics at Lake Placid, N.Y. An October storm at AccuWeather headquarters in 2002 opened a really snowy winter in State College, Pa.

2011 seems like a year that is an exception to the pattern anyway.

“Look at all of the strange and unusual weather occurrences that happened this year,” AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Dave Dombek said. “It’s like the atmospheric rulebook is being thrown out the window. A lot of long-term rules of thumbs have been broken.”

“If you go back to try to find an analogy to other storms, you can’t find an analogy to other storms,” AccuWeather Expert Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity said. “Weather is not playing by the rules.” This snowstorm is “just a continuation of the winter pattern from last year. The extreme weather pattern that we’ve been in has not ended.”

After this weekend, though, the Northeast will return to typical fall weather, with even warmer-than-normal temperatures over the next few weeks. AccuWeather Long Range Expert Paul Pastelok assures that “There’s plenty of fall left.”

By Grace Muller, writer for AccuWeather.com

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