Mountain areas in Westmoreland, Somerset see first sign of winter

November 9, 2018

The season’s first snowfall lightly covered the hills around Seven Springs Mountain Resort and surrounding areas in Westmoreland and Somerset counties over the weekend, with some continuing to linger Monday.

The Pennsylvania Turnpike Donegal Maintenance Facility recorded an accumulation of 2 inches between Saturday night and Sunday morning, while Laurel Ridge had 3.5 inches, according to the National Weather Service.

The Seven Springs ski resort tweeted its pleasure: “2 days in a row with snow on the ground. I love it.”

Spokeswoman Katie Buchan said Seven Springs got an inch of snow Saturday night into Sunday. Previous years saw the first snow on Oct. 30 (2017), Oct. 22 (2016) and Oct. 17 (2015).

The snow that fell over the weekend likely won’t last, but Seven Springs is expecting more this weekend from a possible nor’easter, Buchan said.

Whether this winter turns out to be a good one for skiers is still up in the air. Buchan acknowledged as much, adding, “All signs point to a good winter for us.”

NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center has forecast a mild winter for much of the United States, with above-average temperatures for December through February, said John Darnley, NWS meteorologist.

The 2019 Old Farmer’s Almanac (Dublin, N.H.) predicted a warmer-than-normal winter, with below-normal snowfall, for Southwestern Pennsylvania, while the Farmers’ Almanac (Lewiston, Maine) predicted a cold, white winter for the state.

Darnley said the outlook for winter depends partly on El Nino and partly on the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation -- global weather patterns that have negative and positive phases.

Negative values indicate cold from the Arctic can slide south, he said.

“If we stay negative and build a much stronger negativity, then we will have a snowy winter and be much colder than normal,” he said. “If we go back to positive, it could go warmer.”

El Nino will mostly have an impact on the weather in California and the Southern states, Darnley said.

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