HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) — Twenty-four years ago, Harrisburg lost part of the Walnut Street Bridge. Huge chunks of ice and heavy rain pushed the Susquehanna River to the sixth-largest crest on record.
Today, a completely different view of the river and bridge. By now we should at least see some ice forming along the banks or some slush along the river surface, but we are ice-free.
A milder than average December followed by the 12th-warmest January on record is proving to be soggy instead of snowy.
On average, we see about 19 inches of snowfall by the end of January. So far, we have only seen a fourth of that snowfall with 5.1 inches since November.
The primary culprit this winter has been a strongly positive Arctic oscillation. When this index is positive, westerly winds over the North Pole are stronger, confining the cold air well north of the Midstate.
The second reason is that the pattern itself on a smaller scale shows this colder air retreating.
We have gotten storms to come out of the Midwest to pull in the warmer air locking the cold air up into New England and in Canada.
They have had snow in parts of the Northeast, it just has not been snowing this far to the south.
So, will this boring weather continue through the rest of winter? One area of the world we like to look at is the Arctic.
A disruption of the polar vortex will occur as we usher in February, which will position the core of the cold over southern Canada starting next week. This will give us more cold air to tap into as systems move through, which means an increase in snow/mix events during the month of February.
However, history tells us after unusually mild January’s, mild months follow. The sustained cold over Alaska and the west coast will be tough to break, which means an overall milder regime for the continental United States. But much like the past few years, don’t be surprised if it takes a while to warm up as we welcome in spring.