El Nino will bring a warmer winter, but don't put away the snow shovel yet

Written by Ben Allen, General Assignment Reporter | Dec 16, 2015 3:56 AM

Photo by Wikimedia Commons/Nicholas

(State College) -- Winter is taking its time to settle in after a few abnormally warm days, and the El Nino pattern is expected to make this winter warmer than usual.

It won't have a huge effect on the temperature - you probably won't be able to walk around in shorts in the middle of January.

But forecasters say the average high temperature could push up a couple of degrees between now and the end of February.

It usually sits around 40 degrees.

And snow storms may not be as common this year.

Rob Radzanowski, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in State College, cautions this is all an average - winter is still winter, after all...

"No, that doesn't preclude the fact that we could still see large storms here and there through the course of the winter like we do every year. But in general, in El Nino years, we tend to average less snowfall than non-El Nino years," he says.

"Even though the overall averages tend to be warmer with less snowfall, that doesn't mean we won't see the variations that we do every winter. We'll have our cold spells. We'll have some warm spells. We'll get our snow from time to time."

Radzanowski says the El Nino pattern is stronger than ones in the past.

It occurs when the surface temperature in some parts of the Pacific Ocean rises above usual levels.

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