Wondering if there is going to be ice fishing in Pennsylvania this winter

The weirdly warm weather seems to be on everybody’s mind right now. I’m watching an Eagles game in Philadelphia today where the temperature is expected to reach 70 degrees. 

The strangely warm days make me question my plans for lots of ice fishing features in coming issues. After the last two brutally cold winters – like the ones I remember as a kid – I sensed interest in ice fishing was again picking up across Pennsylvania.

 But, of course, I was not aware of the strong El Nino weather pattern in the Pacific that has developed – which is credited for moderating our winter – when I scheduled lots of ice fishing content for the next few months. The El Nino thing is an interesting phenomenon.

According to The Weather Channel, in an El Niño situation, trade winds reverse in the equatorial Pacific and start blowing west to east toward the Americas. This brings extremely warm water from the general vicinity of Indonesia toward the eastern Pacific. As warm water builds at the surface, it acts as a cap to prevent colder water underneath from upwelling. What results is a large pool of well above-average water that can impact much larger global circulations.

The warmer-than-average sea surface temperatures lead to increased evaporation rates, which in turn leads to more warm and moist air rising in the equatorial Pacific. This “energizes” the subtropical jet stream, which then helps to direct this mild and moisture-laden air toward the United States. The end result is fewer intrusions of the polar jet stream diving down from Canada and delivering shots of arctic air to the Northeast.

In general, El Nino leads to a milder-than-average winter with less snow than average for Pennsylvania. It doesn’t bode well for ice fishing here. Long-term weather forecasts are notoriously inaccurate, but I consulted the 45-day forecast on AccuWeather.com, based in State College, Pa., to see how mild it might be.

Amazingly, AccuWeather does not prognosticate a single day in January with a daytime high below freezing. Not one. The coldest day is predicted to be Jan. 26, with a high of 32. And that’s the only day with a high that even approachs freezing. And even the first week of February is expected to be warm.

So if you are among what one Pennsylvania outdoor writer often refers to as the “Frozen Chosen,” this is likely to be a long winter for you. If so, perhaps reading the ice fishing features in Pennsylvania Outdoor News will make you feel a little better. Warm winter or not, we are committed to publishing them.

Categories: Blog Content, News, PenBlogs, Pennsylvania – Jeff Mulhollem

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