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Meteorologists don't expect prolonged 'polar vortex' again this winter

While the chill of the "polar vortex" and some snowy weather are forecast to return this winter, meteorologists don't expect them to have the same persistence as they did last winter, according to two seasonal forecasts issued Thursday.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration forecasts normal temperature variations in the mid-Atlantic this winter, with no strong climate signals suggesting either colder- or warmer-than-normal conditions. Of course, the forecast was the same last winter, which turned out to be among the coldest in decades.

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"Those kinds of really extreme-type winters are pretty much impossible to forecast," said Mike Halpert, acting director of NOAA's Climate Prediction Center, which is based in College Park. "Our outlook certainly doesn't favor something like that [again]."

The NOAA forecast suggests slight chances of a wetter-than-normal weather along the southeastern coast, including the eastern half of Maryland. It suggests likely wet conditions along the southern tier of the United States, something that is typically associated with El Niño, which is expected to have about a two-in-three chance of developing by January.

That could mean snowy conditions in Maryland this winter, but it depends on other weather patterns that are not associated with El Niño -- a blocking high-pressure system over Greenland, in particular. Such a pattern is known for sending southern moisture up the Atlantic Coast in "nor'easter" storms that have produced many of Baltimore's biggest snowfalls.

El Niño winters are, on average, snowier than normal in Baltimore. But the development of the climate phenomenon does not guarantee a snowy winter, nor does its absence mean a season light on snow.
AccuWeather.com forecasters predict a decent amount of snow for the Interstate 95 corridor, according to their winter outlook, also released Thursday. They call for seasonal snowfall totals just above normal in Philadelphia and New York, with higher snowfall totals to the west of I-95 in places like Hagerstown and Harrisburg.

AccuWeather meteorologists predict a surge of cold air into the Northeast in November, with the strongest chill waiting until mid-January into February.

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