Winter Outlook Preview

Questions about the upcoming winter keep coming to the weather dept., so here’s a brief preview of what I see for the upcoming winter (more to come later).

First, unlike last winter and other recent winters, there is no well-defined El Nino or La Nina.  Removing those two driving forces from the equations, we are left looking at various other large-scale atmospheric “signatures” that help define the general weather patterns.

I won’t delve into the particulars of those in this discussion, but some signs do point an increased potential for deeper and more southern Eastern storm development.  So far, we haven’t seen too much evidence of this (more “clipper” storms from the Midwest versus bigger southern storms), although  I will say this much… really cold air has been quite impressive for this early in the season.

More later…

Posted by Jim Duncan

(Update: re  a comment posted:  Latest from NCEP indicates only mild equatorial Pacific cooling… not at La Nina thresholds.)    This is considered to essentially be neutral unless longer, more pronounced trends in cooling occur.


8 Responses to Winter Outlook Preview

  1. Ed says:

    Last winter there were a few that commented on this blog that there was no way locations south of Richmond would get snow if it didn’t snow in Richmond. Surely they were basing their belief on fact that Richmond is further north. After doing a little research, it turns out there are locations well south of Richmond, Virginia, Alabama and Mississippi, that have, for a number of years, had more snow than Richmond. Looking at the forecast for tonight 12-10-08 parts of Alabama and Mississippi are expecting 3″ to 5″ of snow. If that forecast comes true for Alabama and Mississippi it will again be a prime example of locations south of Richmond that continue to receive snow that while Richmond, Virginia continues to experience a joke of a winter. Richmond hasn’t seen a 2″ snowfall in years, much less a 3″ or 5″ snow fall. Interesting, that Richmond, well north of AL and MS, experiences 70 degrees or higher in 85% of its winters and it experiences temperatures 80 degrees or higher in 10% of its winters. Richmond has had 90 degree or higher as early as March and the temperature has been reached as high as 99 degrees in October. All of which points, for those that have a difficult time wanting to believe it, to the fact that today’s 70 plus degrees is not even remotely unusual for Richmond, Virginia. Almost every year Richmond experiences a few days in Dec. where the temperatures climb to 70 degrees or higher and sometimes it will reach 80 degrees plus. It would be a challenge to find the last time Richmond did not have at least one day in December that the temperature did not reach 70 degrees or higher.

    People’s weather memories tend to be short or over exaggerated. Last year, 2007, Richmond had nearly the same weather pattern in the early part of December as we have had this year, with temperature averaging well below normal. Then, per usual, the weather pattern turned completely the opposite direction whereby the high temperatures were in the middle and upper 70’s. By the time all was said and done the month of December 2007 ended above normal by over 3 degrees. There is a lot of December left but the trend, except for the next couple of days, will be for above normal temperatures for next week and beyond. This year most everyone has talked about how Nov. 2008 was so cold as compared to Nov. 2007. Wrong again! When comparing the statistics of Nov. 2007 with the statistics of Nov. 2008 you will find that the average temperature for Nov. 2007 was exactly on the money. Nov. 2008 average temperature was below average by only about 0.3 of a degree. Nov. 2008 was cooler than average but in the scheme of averages, Nov. 2008, as a whole, was not the frigid month that some would have you believe. As of 12-09-08, Dec. 2008 was roughly 4 degrees below average but when we have days like yesterday and today it does not take long for the below average temperature to swing in the other direction. Don’t be surprised if the December average temperature ends near or above average for the month. It has been a very, very long time since Richmond has had any one month, much less a series of months in a succession, where the average monthly temperature ended WELL below average. The trend of Richmond experiencing any lengthy well below normal monthly temperatures doesn’t seem to be in the cards any time soon. It’s interesting to note that while Richmond has had a very long period of deficit snow and above average monthly temperatures there are other places in the country that have been experiencing just the opposite. Unless there is a change in the placement of the jet stream, whereby the jet stream stays in place like it had been during our below average daily temperatures, for the last few weeks, and the track of storm systems changes to where they track south and east of Richmond, with cold air in place, Richmond can expect the same old thing happening. (i.e.) Richmond will have cold shots of air but like clock work the jet steam will lift and a storm system will track to our west and bring in well above average temperatures before the cold front passes and once again after the cold front passes all that will be left for Richmond will be, maybe, a few snow flurries. Richmonder’s become so excited that they can’t resist calling television stations, radio stations and friends to tell them that it’s snowing. They pull out their camera to take pictures of the big snow event. The snow flurry has created a dusting of snow on their automobile. All the while they are checking the news outlets to listen for any cancellations or delays.

    For now, it would appear that the snow lovers in Richmond Virginia will have to move south to Mississippi or Alabama or west to Chicago or to other locations north of Virginia if they want to experience any significant snow.

  2. Elaine says:

    I’m another one who is wishing for lots of snow. It’s been way too long…

  3. ZL says:

    I hope it snows a lot this year!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  4. jl says:

    Jim, thanks for all your predictions over the years. Although I grew up in Richmond and currently live in the Northern part of the state, I don’t look forward to winter weather in these parts. The older I get, the less I like the cold temps – bring on global warming if that’s even real! Having said that, if it’s going to be cold, might as well have some snow!!

  5. Sirius the Star Dog says:

    MEI has been below -0.5 for more than three months…which meets the la Nina threshold. True…Nino3.4 is not at or below the threshold…but since MEI considers more than SST anomalies… it’s considered by many to be a superior measure.

  6. MBUENO says:


  7. DC says:

    Looks like the previous poster should have researched more before saying “your analysis is wrong”…but, you know people like to pick on weather men.

    Thanks Jim for the update. Looking forward to hearing more about it. Hoping for at least one good snowfall amounting to more than just a few inches sometime this winter. I think a lot of people are impatient and more or less bitter/upset about the past 10 winters and the lack of significant, lasting snow. I think we’re due to see some more significant snowfalls within the January-February time frame this year.

  8. Sirius the Star Dog says:

    “First, unlike last winter and other recent winters, there is no well-defined El Nino or La Nina.”

    Latest MEI for OctNov indicates la Nina condtions exist currently so your analysis is wrong.

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