The United States isn’t the only country that runs into trouble with snow during the wintertime. Much of Europe and Canada run into similar situations, but the United States seems to be a mid-point between countries with huge snowfall totals such as Norway and others with much less such as the United Kingdom. One country that stands apart from the rest in terms of handling snow is Sweden. Because snow and cold weather is so common in northern Europe, Sweden has adapted much of its society to always being ready for snow. Swedish lifestyle is tailored towards the frequent cold weather, where most shoes are equipped with proper soles and clothes are made for conditions well below freezing. Salting roads is a legal requirement and special snow tires are always put on for better traction. Chains and studs are also commonly equipped onto tires to improve traction in the snowier areas where plowing and salting just aren’t enough to keep roads completely cleared. Even for airports warm sand is often spread across runaways to keep snow melted and to give aircraft traction when landing and taking off.
One aspect of life that keeps Sweden ahead during the winter is how they treat cold weather and snow as if it were just another day, since it is so common. School isn’t cancelled because of negative temperatures and people will still be seen outside. The real difference is their preparedness. Going out in extremely cold temperatures isn’t too much of a problem when everyone in Sweden has the proper clothing attire to keep them warm and safe. Of course though, when temperatures drop dangerously low more precautions are taken, and not everyone chooses to venture outdoors. Wind causes massive snow drifts and can easily cause frostbite. The preferred method of transportation in northern areas of Sweden and Norway and even Canada is usually by snowmobile. Snow sometimes gets so difficult to manage that roads become useless and there is no way to pass through. So instead of trying to get through the snow in a car or truck, many citizens choose to go right on top of it all with a snowmobile.
Middle to southern Europe views snow in a way that is similar to many Americans. Snow can be an uncommon occurrence and the level of preparedness is nothing compared to Sweden or Norway. A large area of Europe rarely sees long periods of freezing temperatures and so the expectation of snow isn’t usually fresh in everyone’s mind. But that’s not to say it never snows. Salting and plowing are still the preferred method of clearing snow, but many places don’t always have a fleet ready to take to the streets and clear away frozen debris. It’s all about being prepared, which is why sometimes we see schools may close for only a few inches of snow in European countries but also some middle states in America. Warmer states are often unprepared for snow and even a small amount can be crippling, whereas in Sweden or even New England a few inches is treated as just another day. In the coming months those few inches of snow that may be on the ground won’t be looking so bad just knowing how many feet of snow are already probably covering the ground in Sweden, Norway, or our neighbor Canada.
After the unforgiving snowfall of last winter season, it seems like the only thing on everyone’s mind is what we can expect this year. Our sources at Weatherworks, Inc. provided us with a month by month forecast of temperatures and snowfall, and we want to share this information so everyone can be prepared.
The end of October is here and don’t worry, November won’t be anything out of the ordinary. For most of New England we can expect slightly warmer temperatures and relatively average snowfall totals. Granted it is still early in the season and there’s a chance it doesn’t even snow at all, but if it does then it’s likely to be only a few inches at most. The most noticeable weather difference will be found close to the Canadian border and towards the midwest, where they expect much warmer temperatures and below average snowfall.
December is the official start of the winter season, but it may still feel like autumn even after the leaves fall and pumpkins disappear. December is predicted to be extremely mild compared to past averages. We can expect up to a 40% increase in temperature and snowfall averages. The warmer weather is caused by zonal flow from the warm waters of the Pacific Ocean which travels east to the Atlantic. This effect is similar to how a jet stream can influence weather. While the cold holding off for a while longer seems great there will still be precipitation. Warm weather prevents snow of course, but there will still be rain and possibly mixed precipitation. If temperatures end up being just right we could be in for a winter of slush.
The forecast for January seems surprisingly tame compared to last season. Above average temperatures and below average snowfall totals continue from December. This doesn’t mean it won’t snow, it just means it will be less eventful than past years. This warmth won’t hold out forever though, as month by month we see slow changes from warm with below average snowfall, transitioning towards a typical cold and snowy winter. The end of January is likely to ramp up and prepare us for February, which could be another month to remember when it comes to snow.
February is the month that exceeded our expectations last season, and it’s shaping up to do so again. Don’t be fooled by the warm weather of the early winter, because February looks to be creating a perfect storm. Colder, below average temperatures move into the northeast by this time and snowfall totals increase, significantly. Not only do cold temperatures make all that rain and slush turn to snow, but there’s also likely to be more water coming our way in general. There is projected to be an active southern jet stream, which could bring the wet southern conditions up north. One big rainstorm in Florida could mean an even bigger blizzard for the northeast. Keep in mind this is only a forecast and nothing is set in stone but February weather is shaping up to be the greatest challenge of the winter.
Sharp temperature changes in March to April look to close the winter season. Once the warm air sets in the threat of a snowstorm is no longer something to stress over. We may still see mixed conditions, but by this time any leftover snow will begin to melt. The southern Atlantic coast will likely see colder than average temperatures, but it shouldn’t be enough to see a snow storm.
Hopefully the forecast helps everyone prepare better for what’s to come. It may seem nice for December and January to stay warm and possibly blizzard free, but remember February will be quickly on its way. Overall the season looks to begin late and end quickly, but then again it’s the northeast and it’s still fresh in our minds that during the winter anything can happen.