Here are maps of SST anomalies just east of Newfoundland for the last three Decembers 2015 to 2017 (figs 1-3).
I know that it has some kind of bearing on the type of weather we get on our side of the Atlantic due to its influence on the jet stream and type of circulation patterns that we’re likely to see for the remainder of the winter. As far as I know negative SST anomalies in this region would favour blocking and more anticyclonic easterly weather, whilst positive anomalies, like they are at the moment, would mean increased mobility and storminess. So on the strength of the latest anomalies as high as +5°C (fig 3), our run of seven years without any snow lying in this part of Devon looks quite likely to be extended to eight.
I don’t have any papers I can include or quote from which explain this relationship in more detail, but I do have this recent comment in a newsgroup by Graham Davis who is more knowledgeable than most on the subject (I hope he doesn’t mind me quoting him).
“The reason for the recent lack of easterlies is the sea temperature anomalies in the North Atlantic haven’t been conducive. The important area in this regard is that immediately to the south of the Grand Banks. If this is colder than normal, the atmospheric pressure over Iceland tends to be higher than normal and lower than usual around the Azores. Conversely, a warm anomaly leads to below normal pressure in the southern Norwegian Sea and above average pressure in mid-Atlantic. These pressure patterns vary depending on time of year – due to changes in average jet-stream wavelength – and on the shape and position of the anomalies.
The last winter I can find with a cold pool in more or less the correct area during winter, although it was rather weak, was 2012-13 when Jan-Mar were anomalously easterly.
The predominance of the cold blob south of Greenland in recent years was suggested to be associated with a change in N Atlantic ocean currents. I pooh-poohed this idea at first but I’ve been coming round to it in the past couple of years. I’ve wondered whether this might be a sign that some of the Labrador Current is remaining on the surface and drifting eastwards instead of sinking below the Gulf Stream. This could be caused by a reduction in salinity of the current due to increased meltwater from the Greenland icecap entering the flow. If this is the case, it could be a sign that due to the bi-stable nature of the currents in the area we might be due for one of its flips and consequent sudden climate changes. The features of this change would be an intensification of the cold blob and a persistence of the warm anomaly south of 40N. This would mean we’d be stuck in almost permanent westerlies.“
I also noticed the importance of SST east of Newfoundland in this research paper “Observational evidence of European summer weather patterns predictable from spring” published by the National Academy of Sciences.