June 26, 2019 | 72° F

Winter in NJ may be abnormally warm this year

Photo by Wikimedia Commons |

A steady rise in temperatures across land and sea predicts an unusually warm winter this year. New Jersey has equal chances for temperatures above and below the average, prompting students to anticipate irregular weather on their daily commute.

Inconsistencies in this year's fall weather have left students confused about what to expect in their daily commutes to class. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), temperatures measured on land and at sea over the last century have shown that the Earth's average surface temperature is rising.

The website said that during 2016 the average temperature across land and ocean surfaces was 1.69 degrees above the 20th-century average. This year was the third year in a row that temperatures set a new record.

The Climate Prediction Center, a branch of NOAA, predicted that New Jersey is likely to see an abnormally warm winter this year, meaning students might experience fewer days with subzero temperatures.

Mike Halpert, the deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center, said that the biggest factor shaping the upcoming winter will be the likelihood of a La Niña weather pattern developing.

“If La Niña conditions develop, we predict it will be weak and potentially short-lived, but it could still shape the character of the upcoming winter,” Halpert said. 

La Niña occurs when surface temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are cooler than normal and influence global temperatures.

“Typical La Niña patterns during winter include above average precipitation and colder than average temperatures along the Northern Tier of the U.S. and below normal precipitation and drier conditions across the South,” he said.

La Niña weather patterns in the Garden State tend to result in winters that are warmer than normal and have below-normal snowfall, said David Robinson, a Rutgers professor and climatologist.

Robinson said that although these winters tend to have a snowfall that is below average one big exception was the winter of 2011-2012, a La Niña season that turned out to be very snowy for New Jersey.

According to the Climate Prediction Center, snowfall forecasts are typically unpredictable more than a week in advance but issue a general outlook for winter precipitation.

“(New Jersey) falls into the equal chance category, which means they have an equal chance for above-, near-, or below-normal temperatures and/or precipitation because there is not a strong enough climate signal in these areas to shift the odds,” the site said.

The School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior Polina Semenoff said that in her experience the weather has been uncomfortably unpredictable.

The warm weather at the start of October was surprising, Semenoff said. Commuters are forced to sit in their cars and deal with the discomfort of sweating before class. 

“It was too hot for me, especially being on the (Cook) farm," Semenoff said. "It can get too hot and too gross. It was warm for longer this year."

Jillian Pastor

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