We have seen a pattern in our winters over the past few years: December is warm and January and February are frigid. February 2015 was one of the 10 coldest months ever.
You can expect that pattern to continue this year.
Storm Team4 is predicting a warmer than average December. January should be slightly colder than average, and February will likely be significantly colder than average.
We're expected to see a few warm spells, too, and that could bring down our snow totals.
Storm Team4 predicts at least one big snowstorm, which could drive up the snowfall total. If an El Niño storm moves in our direction when enough cold air is present, we could have a monster storm.
We're expecting 20 to 25 inches snow for the D.C. metro region, as many as 20 inches for the area south of the District and 30 to 50 inches for the area west of the District.
A few things have changed since last year, such as the El Niño, which is now one of the strongest on record. The waters in the equatorial Pacific continue to warm. If we were looking at the El Niño alone, we would expect a warm and wet winter, but there are other factors at play.
Warmer waters in the northeast Pacific Ocean tend to bring the jet stream in this region farther to the north over areas like Alaska, and farther to the south over our region.
The amount of snow cover in Siberia toward late October is another variable we look at, and this year it was well above average, meaning cold air is ready and waiting to move in. It's just going to take a month or two to do so.