Whether you love it or you hate it ... winter is coming.
Trying to come up with a winter forecast is always tough, but this year, it's even tougher. We crunch all kinds of data, looking for signs of how this winter may turn out. This year, almost all of the signs point to something we haven't seen much of, and that is a colder-than-normal winter overall. Sure, we've had a few cold blasts of the polar vortex the last few years, but we have seen very little in the way of extended cold. But we may get it this year.
What Signs Are We Looking For?
They come from all over the globe, from the El Niño in the Equatorial Pacific, to the Warm Blob in the North Pacific. They also include the snow cover over Siberia and its correlation to the cold over the Arctic, which pushes the polar vortex our way. The signs are also evident near Greenland, where blocking patterns could keep our area cold and maybe snowy.
But there is another sign as well, and this one comes from the sun.
We are currently in what is called the solar minimum, a time when solar activity is very low. That has an impact on our atmosphere and the weather we can expect. During solar minimum, Earth tends to cool — not by much, but any cooling during the winter months could mean we need those extra-heavy coats and maybe even the snow shovels.
When all the signs come together, we start to get a picture of what this winter could bring. As of right now, all of those signs point to the kind of weather we will be seeing over the next few days, cold and rather stormy.
Storm Team4 Winter Weather Forecast
First off, how about those temperatures?
We think December and January will end up above average. While there will be some cold spells, they will be short-lived. The real cold comes on the back half of the winter in February and March, when we expect to see extended cold spells putting us in a deep freeze.
And what about those signs for snowfall this winter?
They're pointing to an above-average snowfall this year. We normally receive about 15" of snow a year in D.C. and 22" a year at Dulles International Airport. This year, I'm expecting close to 50% above-average snowfall, with a range of 18-25" in the city and 28-37" at Dulles, with areas to the north and west receiving more snow.
Areas to the south and east of Washington will receive less snow but still a few good storms.