19 Aug 2014
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Snow and Cold: What's in Store for Northern Virginia this Winter

El Niño didn't really form, making DC area predictions difficult for meteorologists.

Snow and Cold: What's in Store for Northern Virginia this Winter

This week’s forecast calls for a potential "wintry mix" north and west of the city, but the relatively early snowfall doesn't indicate anything for the winter weeks ahead, according to forecasters.

Some meteorologists are calling for an “average” winter in terms of snowfall, but some say there could be higher-than-average amounts of the white stuff.

“During an El Niño winter we can see some heavy snows and some cool temperatures here in the mid-Atlantic," ABC7 meteorologist Matt Stinneford told WTOP. "However, as we got further into fall, it became apparent that an El Niño was not going to develop."

NOAA’s Mike Halpert told the Capital Weather Gang in October, “This is one of the most challenging outlooks we’ve produced in recent years because El Niño decided not to show up as expected.” NOAA’s outlook calls for approximately equal chances that the East Coast will have above or below normal precipitation and temperatures.

The Capital Weather Gang’s Matt Ross predicted earlier this month that there will be both colder temperatures and more snow than last winter in the DC area—but that’s probably a given, since last winter was warmer and dryer than normal.

Overall, however, Ross said the metro area will remain on the drier side, with six or seven storms featuring accumulating snow; only four of those storms will have snowfall greater than an inch. Ross gives a 35 percent chance that the DC metro area will see more than 6 inches of snow this winter.

“We don’t think odds are high for a massive, crippling “Snowmageddon”-like storm, but a 6-10 inch (or modestly higher) storm is certainly not out of the question,” Ross said.

The Old Farmer’s Almanac back in August predicted colder-than-normal temperatures and higher-than-normal precipitation. Specifically, the Almanac calls for major storms along the Eastern Seaboard in mid-February and mid-March. 

Regardless of what happens, the Virginia Department of Transportation said earlier this month it is well prepared with more than 4,000 trucks and new technology to route snowplows where they are needed most. 

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