Beginning to look less like white Christmas in Northeast

Where is winter?
Where is winter?


    Where is winter?


Where is winter? 00:58

Story highlights

  • Lack of a white Christmas in Burlington, Vermont, is "not common by any stretch," meteorologist says
  • Above-average temperatures are set to return to the Northeast next week
  • Friday, Buffalo received its latest first measurable snowfall of the season since record-keeping began

(CNN)Buffalo finally has its first snow of the season. Northern Vermont at last has a near-normal blast of chilly air, its ski resorts in line to get some precious flakes.

Is the weather getting back to normal in the Northeast, maybe in time for a white Christmas?
Keep dreaming.
    Though snow was falling in parts of New York and Vermont on Saturday, above-average temperatures are set to return to the Northeast next week, likely dashing hopes of a snow-covered ground on Christmas for much of the Northeast in what's been a noticeably warm December.
    In Burlington, Vermont, this month's average temperature has been in the low 40s, about 12 degrees higher than normal, said Andrew Loconto, a National Weather Service meteorologist there. Temperatures are expected to be near 50 there this week.
    "(A white Christmas) is going to be really hard to achieve this year" in Burlington, Loconto said, and that's "not common by any stretch."
    A snowy Christmas actually isn't likely in most of the country's eastern half, CNN meterologists say.
    The Northeast's warm stretch is largely attributable to a strong El Niño phenomenon, which is a warming of the eastern Pacific Ocean. Effects include a wetter-than-normal Southwest, a cooler South -- and a warmer Northeast.
    So western and northern New York's lake-effect snow Friday and Saturday appears to be just a tease -- even if a historically remarkable one.
    On Friday, Buffalo's airport received a tenth of an inch of snow -- the latest in a fall-to-winter period that Buffalo has ever received its first measurable snowfall since record-keeping began in the 1800s. The previous record was December 3, set in 1899.
    That's quite a contrast from the Buffalo of last year. By December 10, 2014, the city on Lake Erie had received more than 20 inches of snow, and areas just to the south had been buried under 80 inches.
    More snow was expected Saturday in counties south and southwest of the city, perhaps up to 7 inches in some areas.
    In Hamburg, south of Buffalo, business picked up for tow-truck driver Tony Mickiewicz on Friday.
    "This (snow) came in pretty suddenly," he told CNN affiliate WIVB. "As soon as I started my shift I had a quick call, and then it was one after the other, and now I'm holding at least seven (vehicles)."
    Heavier snow fell Friday into Saturday in northern New York. By Saturday morning, 12 inches had fallen in Alder Creek, New York, north of Rome. A few more inches of snow were possible in the Rome area Saturday.

    Nooooo! We've been having such a good #winter in #NewHampshire! Couldn't the #snow wait until February?

    A photo posted by James 'Puke' Schmill (@doomsdaydevice) on

    The warm December may portend safer holiday travel, but perhaps limited offerings from the ski resorts of New England.
    No trails were open Saturday at Cranmore Mountain Resort in Conway, New Hampshire, because of the weather. Twenty-five of 135 trails were open at the Sunday River resort in Maine. In northern Vermont's Stowe Mountain Resort, 21 of about 115 trails were available.
    Ski resorts can manufacture their own snow, though it is easier with lower temperatures. They might restrict the number of trails in warmer weather to concentrate snow-making resources.
    Steven Sulin, manager at Pinnacle Ski and Sports in Stowe, Vermont, said that although the weather has been unseasonably warm, skiing has been good at Stowe Mountain, in part because the resort upgraded its snow-making equipment. He said he's skied at least 19 days already this season.
    "I think we're definitely one of the lucky ones," Sulin said.
    In Burlington, Saturday's high temperature was expected to be about 37 degrees. Some snow was expected in the higher elevations, where Stowe sits.
    "Certainly the recent ... cold snap here is good for the ski areas, and the added snowfall is pretty good, but it's been primarily in the mountains where the snow has fallen, and it hasn't been that much in general," said Loconto, the Burlington forecaster.