When it comes to big snowfalls in Western New York, it's not a question of if, but when.
The strongest El Nino since 1998 kept our temperatures up and snowfall totals down dramatically last winter. But don't expect a repeat performance this year.
7 First Alert Chief Meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski, along with meteorologists Andy Parker and Don Paul combined their more than eight decades of forecasting weather in Western New York to develop the 7 First Alert Winter Weather Outlook for 2016-17.
With El Nino completely out of the picture this year, the door is open for other weather patterns to take over from time to time.
"We may see more frequent instances - not in the next week or two but later on - of polar air coming into the Great Lakes," said meteorologist Don Paul.
But as we know, the majority of our snow comes off Lake Erie.
The lake water was 70 degrees or warmer for 95 days in a row this year, smashing the previous mark by almost a week.
The top temperature on the lake reached 79 degrees, one degree shy of the all-time record.
A new record was set this month, when the lake hit 69 degrees - the warmest October temperature ever recorded for Lake Erie.
"And while a warm lake alone doesn't guarantee those huge winter storms, there's evidence to suggest that a snowier than normal winter season is on the way," said meteorologist Andy Parker.
Western New York has experienced a wide range of snow totals in recent winters:
- 2012-13: 59 inches
- 2013-14: 130 inches
- 2014-15: 113 inches
- 2015-2016: 55 inches
The average seasonal snowfall for the Buffalo-Niagara region is 94.7 inches.
"This year I think temperatures will stay above normal through the end of 2016," said Chief Meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski. "We get into January, February, March, that's when the cold air comes in and that's when winter really kicks into gear."
The 7 First Alert team is calling for about 80 to 100 inches of snow for 2016-2017, which would be an average snow season for Western New York.
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