Fox News Weather Center

El Nino to Blame for Eastern US Snow Drought

An El Niño pattern is expected to funnel mild air into the East through the start of 2016, allowing the snow drought to continue for major East Coast cities.

While the Eastern states will continue to see a snow drought through January, the West will have an abundance of snow.

"A strong, Pacific jet stream [storm track] will continue to provide moisture-laden storms into the West through early next year," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Brett Anderson said. "This is great news for the western ski areas and for some of the drought-stricken areas."

116-Year-Old Record Broken

Snow Drought to Persist in Eastern U.S.

Unusually warm weather has been prominent across the East this November, and this trend is expected to continue through the end of 2015 and start of 2016.

"El Niño years notoriously produce a lower-than-average snowfall across the northeast United States, and we're seeing this so far," AccuWeather Chief Meteorologist Elliot Abrams said.

The lack of measurable snow so far this season in Buffalo, New York, set a record on Dec. 4 for the latest date without accumulating snow. This streak broke a 116-year-old record. Each day that Buffalo does not observe accumulating snow, a new record will be set.

The snow drought extends toward the Midwest, where numerous cities are below 2014 snowfall totals. There are a few exceptions, however. Chicago and Des Moines, Iowa, are among the cities that have received more snow so far this year in comparison to last year.

During a strong El Niño in 1997-98, which is similar in many ways to this winter's pattern, the I-95 cities received well-below-normal snowfall. New York City recorded 5.5 inches of snow that year, compared to the normal seasonal snowfall of 25.1 inches.

Mild air will continue to stream into the eastern U.S., limiting opportunities for snow along the I-95 corridor, from Washington, D.C., to New York City, through late December and early January.

Earlier this year, AccuWeather Chief Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok explained that there was going to be a lack of lake-effect snowfall around the Great Lakes region due to a lack of long-lasting cold.

Abundant Snow to Target Western U.S.

"There will be a busy storm track into the Northwest well through next week, bringing numerous snow opportunities to the Cascades and that track may head south later in December to bring needed snowfall to the Sierras," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Ken Clark added.

The storms, which will line up frequently to impact the West, have the potential to bring substantial rain and snow as an El Niño pattern strengthens the storm track and adds fuel in the form of abundant moisture this winter.

This will open up the opportunity for snow to be measured in feet rather than inches with each storm.

Popular ski resort areas that are predicted to receive above-normal snowfall include Alta and Snowbird, Utah, Telluride and Vail, Colorado, and Tahoe, California, and Jackson Hole, Wyoming.

Alaska Far From a Snow Drought in 2015

One year is making a huge difference in how much snow has fallen across Alaska. Snowfall totals in Anchorage and Fairbanks so far this season are close to matching the total snowfall from last season.

Anchorage has recorded 18.1 inches of snow, and Fairbanks has recorded 29.2 inches of snow through Dec. 4. During the same stretch last year, Anchorage had 8.5 inches, and Fairbanks had 15.7 inches.

For the entire cold season last year, Anchorage had 23.2 inches, only 72 percent of normal, and Fairbanks had 43.5 inches, only 73 percent of normal.

Moving forward, the weather across much of Alaska will take a turn toward generally dry conditions through the middle of December as a high pressure system stays in control.