The last few years have not been kind to snow lovers in the Washington, D.C., region. We’ve had a few good storms here and there, but five of the last six winters have had below-average snowfall.
So what will this winter be like? Here's what I predict:
Factors for Predicting Snowfall
In making this year’s forecast, I once again looked to the oceans. I looked at the phase of the El Niño. This year we're in a La Niña again. As a matter of fact, this is the third winter in a row for it.
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I also look at the sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic. Once again, they are very warm for this time of year. That could mean more moisture, but will the cold be there to bring more snow? Or, will we see just plain rain?
I look toward the Pacific and the Gulf of Alaska. The sea surface temperatures there can help steer the jet stream, bringing us the cold air we need, but it could also keep us warm.
Additionally, I look to the snow cover over Siberia and North America. That too helps me forecast the amount of cold and snow we might see.
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Looking at those factors, I think we will be wearing the rain coats and umbrellas a whole lot more than the winter coats and snow boots.
During La Niñas, our region tends to be warm and wet, not cold and white, and I see that again for this year. Looking back at the past, similar years have not had much snowfall at all. Those same years had bouts of heavy rain and with a warm Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic.
I expect storms that move in from the south will bring with them warmer air and more rain this winter.
Here's the part I hate to even mention, but I know this will make some of you very happy: I am predicting one of the warmest winters ever! This winter could wind up in the top five warmest in our history and with warm temperatures come a lot less snowfall.
I am seeing very little chance of any good snowstorms. If we see a good storm, it will most likely come in January. That is the one month I think we see some good cold weather.
However, December will be above average and I think February and March will be extremely warm.
As far as snowfall, I am predicting just 1-6 inches of snow for the entire D.C. area and I am leaning toward the lower side of that.
Yes, we will see a little more to the north and west, but I'm not expecting much at all for areas to the south and east.
This is one forecast I hope I get wrong!