This is a really interesting discussion on a hot summer's day.
I wonder if there is any correlation between the above normal SST's of the Gulf Stream about 250 miles to the southeast of us, and the generally observed increase in seasonal snow amounts since the late 90's? SST's have been consistently running 2-5 degrees celsius above normal in this area since late 1996 according to the SST anomaly maps located here:
At this point it makes you wonder if it's even an anomaly anymore if it's been running above normal for over 20 years. I would imagine that the above normal SST's have an influence on cyclone strength and other aspects of our weather year round. Maybe this could also partially explain why ratters aren't nearly as ratty as they used to be.
Perhaps just one piece of the puzzle...
Overall I'm inclined to believe that the warming SST's in the Arctic and lesser amounts of polar ice will have a profound effect on our weather, especially in the winter. Whether it's a short term, or long term pattern shift, our winters seem to be back loaded into February and March more years than not, and I (anecdotally) feel that we have more swings between above normal and below normal temperatures thanks to these kinks and bulges in the jet stream that researchers are starting to feel are caused by the warmer temps up in the Arctic.