Winter in the Washington, D.C., area has been mild this year, and the reason can be found in the waters of the northern Pacific Ocean.
Storm Team4’s chief meteorologist Doug Kammerer said abnormally warm water temperatures found in the waters near Alaska and the Canadian pacific coast have persisted in the area for three years.
With this warmth, the jet stream would flow above the warm blob, into Canada and across the heartland of the U.S., bringing cold weather to the eastern half of the United States.
This year, the warmth in the Pacific Ocean dissipated, changing the flow of the jet stream. It travels across northern California, skimming along the border between the U.S. and Canada before exiting into the Atlantic Ocean around New England.
Kammerer said there is no known reason for the waters to suddenly cool, but he did mention the possibility during his winter weather forecast.
The current jet stream is keeping colder air to the north, mainly providing winter weather to the Washington state and Oregon in the west and Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont in the east. The rest of the country has been experiencing continuing warm weather.
Since storms generally run along the jet stream, the area has not seen much rain or snow during this period.
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Kammerer said the D.C. area is in a moderate drought and is on target for the third or fourth warmest winter on record. He said it is also the second warmest February (1976) and the third least amount of winter snowfall with only 1.4 inches.
Is winter done for the region? Historically, following the last 10 low snow Februarys, there were only three months of March that had 1 inch or more of snow.
Storm Team4 meteorologist Tom Kierein said projections for the next three months, March, April and May, have a 40 percent chance of above average temperatures. Higher temperatures for the summer months could also be on the way.
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