How much snow will Boston get this 2023 winter?

Photo courtesy of MGN

By Colette Lauture

As the first day of winter approaches in the next few weeks, the chances of a snowy season in Boston are coming into play. Whether the city will have a mild season or not hinges on several climate variables, such as the El Niño effect.

El Niño is an atmospheric pattern that, for the winter, means chances for warmer-than-average temperatures and wetter conditions. This year, the El Niño is coming on strong and will likely peak later this month.

Although it’s likely that snowfall this winter will be less than average, it’s almost certain that Boston will see more snow than last year — when only about a foot covered the streets. Average snowfall is almost four feet for Boston, and about five feet in the Worcester area.

Other smaller climate players have a role in Boston’s winter weather. These variables, or teleconnections, can move and impact the waves of air that carry the jet stream — the key way weather moves across the globe. 

The Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), the Arctic Oscillation (AO), the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), and the Pacific North American Pattern (PNA) influence how weekly and monthly weather patterns unfold. They not only impact seasonal weather, but can play off each other to make forecasting weekly changes in the colder months even more complicated. At times, one of these patterns can even overwhelm the others.

Essentially, the forecast is set for Boston to get colder and see more snow. But how the air masses move each winter can vary greatly, and have very different outcomes. The likelihood of a “blockbuster winter” is less than that of a typical or even milder one, but changes in weather can happen quickly.