By Todd Gutner, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – We’ve already taken a big winter hit, and a lot of us are looking towards the “real” winter with more than a little nervousness.

And so is Sandra from Billerica.

She declared her curiosity to WBZ-TV about what to expect, asking:

“How much snow will we get? Is it going to be as bad as last year?”

The WBZ-TV meteorologists have been looking at the data, and while we don’t expect this winter will be as bad as last, it’s still going to be tough.

You’ll remember that last winter was the season of collapsing roofs.

Snow took down houses, commercial buildings and a parking garage in Lynn, trapping two men; Peter Sullivan and Cesar Jimenez.

They were rescued after several hours of being trapped in a car.

Today, Peter says he’s not looking forward to the winter.

“I just hope that people take into consideration what happened last year. Or is it just like, oh that will never happen again?,” he says.

WBZ-TV’s Todd Gutner reports

The October Nor’easter we just lived through is also making a lot of people nervous about the coming winter, but meteorologist Melissa Mack says it doesn’t necessarily translate.

“It was definitely a rare and record setting event, but an October snowfall doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to be a bad winter,” she says.

However, it’s not going to be a “good” winter either.

Our weather team predicts snowfall in the 50-to-60 inch range.

The good news is that’s not even close to the 81 inches we got last winter.

The bad news is, it’s more than our seasonal average of 42 inches.

What’s going on?

There are two big meteorological forces at play.

The first is “La Nina,” which is the cooling of water in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Central and South America.

That creates a domino effect that changes the storm track across the country.

The second is what’s called “blocking” up in the higher latitudes in Canada.

That sends arctic cold down into our region.

Combine the two and you have a recipe for a difficult winter.

We expect the worst snows early, in December and January.

But then we get a break.

Around mid-winter, things change, La Nina and the blocking effect break down to a degree, and February and March give us a milder end to the season.

“That’s the good news,” says meteorologist Barry Burbank.

“The set up this winter is going to be the same as last winter, but there’s one important difference. The La Nina and the blocking effect are weaker, so consequently we would expect that the winter would be less harsh than it was last year,” he adds.

READ: Extended 2011-12 Winter Forecast

How about the cold?

Also not as bad as last winter, but again, beware the early months.

“Just like the snow, we’re expecting some of the coldest temperatures to be around the first half of winter, from December to mid-January,” says Melissa Mack.

“But then it’ll begin to moderate. Overall, when you factor in the entire season, temperatures should be near average,” she adds.

We’ve certainly gotten off to a roaring start.

In fact, many towns in central and western Mass. have already received about a third of their average seasonal snowfall thanks to that unusual October storm.

Given how difficult it is to forecast here in New England because conditions change so often, how confident is the WBZ-TV weather team in this forecast?

Well, confidence is pretty high.

The reason is because similar patterns were in place last winter and we know how they behaved then.

From that we can draw conclusions about this winter.

Now, certainly, this can change.

The meteorological forces at play here are fierce. But from today’s perspective, the weather team feels good about this forecast.

Stay tuned.

You can follow the WBZ-TV Weather Team on Facebook and Twitter.

Comments (8)
  1. Willow says:

    Whatever the winter brings, we as New Englanders will “weather” as usual, moaning and groaning. :))

  2. TT says:

    What was this terrible winter we had last year? It snowed for one month. We had almost no snow in November, December, February, March, and April. I think that was pretty good. It only really snowed in January.

  3. emom says:

    We love New England for many reasons, some stay because of choice some for other reasons, some because its to costly to leave. Yes we will weather the weather what ever we are dealt with, But some will embrace it with open arms many will cuss & curse it, Still its hard many that may find it difficult to deal with, especial when we are hit with a major storm that dumps more than 2 or 3 feet with in a short period of time. Which makes clean up a struggle for many.
    Some have help most do not, plus with some towns requiring folks to clear sidewalks OR ELSE, Some scream of the fairness others say JUST DEAL WITH IT, easier for some to say that when they may not know the reasons. Sure there are some that don’t give a damn and will not help a neighbor, But maybe look at it this way, As much as many state help a friend out , help a neighbor , help a stranger,,, I would love nothing more to see that . Truth is if you try some will resist and well tell us off and call the cops. Its happened. Some just want to be alone and well as sad as that is we must in some cases resist the urge to attempt,,,
    Times have seriously change over the years and I wish We could have those times back. Sadly they are lost. Only some try to cling to those days of kindness.
    I have family that would no more step out their door to help anyone even in their own family , sad since they demand so much from those they wont help.. I tend to walk away from those since If I tried to help them and was only walked on and over by them then trying is gone.
    Hey I will grumble and growl when the snow comes, maybe its because the lack of some wanting to help but instead demand has caused me to be bitter, so be it. But I help myself only now , If I try and show kindness and get shoved for it , I will again walk on buy.
    I know that’s cold, bitter and heartless , But its also the reality of things.
    But get prepared since we might get plenty of snow, my advice stock up on ice melt , rock salt, sand and shovels, and for heaven sakes, get some shelf stable foods and batteries, candles and flashlights., Be proactive this year and be safe,
    Even though your neighbor will not help you , at least you will be prepared.

    1. Willow says:

      emom, if we were neighbors, we could help each other. I agree that we should be there for one another during tough times, especially to help the elderly, but as you said,, many will stay inside and not notice their neighbor’s need, or will find fault when someone attempts to help them. Guess it’s just human behavior.

  4. emom says:

    Or rather the lack of human kindness, thoughtfulness, instead they embrace hate and contempt, It is a sad world today since its not the world I grew up in . When neighbors look at you and wonder what are you up to and WHY.. so we learn to do just that stay away and look from a far,

  5. David White says:

    Is our current Indian Summer spell due in part to a current lack of blocking in Canada. Blocking which can steer cold in our direction?

  6. Denise Bastoni says:

    Keep the photo in Methuem,, I doubt we would not top this snow..
    the CHRISTMAS musi is too too soon. .I will not listen to it iuntil after THANKSGIVINGS.

  7. HMWIS says:

    You can always find the snow forecast at this link :

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