BINGHAMTON, N.Y. (WENY)--The winter season officially begins next week, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is calling for a mild winter in our area, mainly due to the full-blown El Nino in the Pacific Ocean. 

''El Nino is one of the many factors that impact the winter season, but when you have a strong El Nino then you can have more of an impact.  When you do have a strong El Nino, it means that the waters of the tropical Pacific are warmer than normal. causing world-wide shifts in weather patterns. Roughly, the northern third of the country gets warmer than normal winter," said Mark Pellerito at Binghamton National Weather Service. 

During El Nino, the east to west trade wind reverses and come from west to east. This pushes the warm pool over Asia eastwards into the Central and Eastern Pacific, causing a global shift in weather pattern. For the United States, the active subtropical jet drives numerous storms through the south and sometimes up the Mid Atlantic coast.  


Due to the active subtropical jet, much of the south and Mid Atlantic receives above-average precipitation. The Northern Jet is less active during El Nino winters, which causes less storms to track through the Great Lakes. Consequently, below average precipitation for the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. 

Since the Twin Tiers region is sandwiched between both jet streams, precipitation can go either way in an El Nino year. Consequently, NOAA is predicting near average precipitation for the upcoming winter in our area (as seen in the precipitation outlook below).


''We can still receive the backend precipitation from storms that track to our south. A mild winter is more likely to happen in an El Nino year than below or above average precipitation, said Mr. Pellerito. 

A mild winter does not mean  that we are clear from cold snaps or impactful winter storms. These can still happen if everything is timed correctly. 


''Any winter is going to have its winter storms, cold snaps, its variety of weather and will have its differences in elevation even in a local area or county. It's always best to be prepared,'' said Mr. Pellerito. 

The last time an El Nino impacted our winter was the 2018 to 2019 winter. However, that one was very minute to the one that is ongoing or the strong El Nino during 2015 to 2016 winter. Typically, El Nino events occur every two to seven years.