1st 2 weeks of January worth watching: Update

Snow fans may get their opportunity within the next couple of weeks.  The jet stream patterns seem to be aligning for at least one, and perhaps two mid-south systems that will both be fairly close calls for the middle Atlantic with respect to precip types.   I continue to be skeptical of the computer guidance, however, and we still need to sit tight before jumping on this.

I do think that the general pattern evolution is more favorable than most I’ve seen in quite awhile.  Stay tuned to this blog for updates.  I will try to post here more frequently if things look promising.

Posted by Jim Duncan

UPDATE posted 1/5:  Next week (12-16) will perhaps bring our last possibility of snow, and then the signals are pointing to a January thaw the following week. (I know, big deal, we’ve already had several winter thaws over the past few weeks).    Even next week’s potential isn’t anything to get excited about, and after that… well, let’s just say it doesn’t look good for the rest of the month thereafter.  Jim


36 Responses to 1st 2 weeks of January worth watching: Update

  1. jake says:

    Oh, and did I mention that I visited the National Center for Atmospheric research in Boulder, Colorado where all of this information is dispalyed throughout the entire facility? I know what I’m talking about…you on the other hand do not.

  2. jake says:

    DC, the data posted by the people above does support climate cycles. It also points out that slowly the cylces are swinging less in the direction of cold, and therefore the high snowfall bars are decreasing even when snow does return. Just as the CO2 levels in the atmosphere are spiking – I guess you would say this is just a weird coincidence. There are plenty of graphs from NOAA that you can’t argue with showing CO2 spking around the industrial revolution and continuing to increase every year….and you also can’t argue with CO2 being a greenhouse gas. So I AM basing this on facts and not a bandwagon or high horse. If your name stands for DC because you used to live there, then move back. We don’t need you here. If it stands for something else, we still don’t need you.

  3. J-Reid says:

    We’ve had well over a 100 years to try and determine what will happen during the winter in Central Virginia.. and no matter what anyone predicts, there will never be a way to determine why mother nature does what it does. And if there is, we won’t figure that out for a long time. All we can do is leave it to people like Jim who try their best to predict the right forecast. I do remember several big snows. The most recent in 2000 when we had like a foot in Chesterfield. But the biggest memory of snow for me is the one 1996 when there was so much snow and it was so cold, that is was straight miserable outside. Another 18 inches of snow like that would be awesome by the way… Maybe Feb???!?!

  4. DC says:

    OK Jake, you didn’t really read my post then did you?…keep blaming everything about the snow droughts we get here on Global Warming. It seems that’s your cop out and the catch all for all the weather event disappointment you experience here. You stick with that if it makes you happy. You obviously didn’t want to read any of bobby_r’s info. So, stop with the Global Warming is the answer to all of our snow drought problems and look at the data. I never said it was a farce…and usually people that are on the “Global Warming” bandwagon think that everything someone else says to the contrary is some sort of statement of denial. Did I deny that global warming is happening? No, not once in my comments did I state that I knew more than scientists…I just said the comment was funny because you can’t just blame this snow drought in Richmond on “Global Warming”. Pick a new trendy slogan or cause to support just like a lot of other green bandwagon riders, or learn to read what people write. Looks like those are your choices. How about that? Happy New Year! I hope you’re doing every single thing you can think of to combat Global Warming…if you’re not, then please get off the high horse..someone else is probably waiting to ride it at this point…if it’s too high to get off, then you can use your soap box to help you get down.

  5. bobby_r says:

    Hello JR. G.
    My dissertation was not directed at you personally. I tend to be long winded because I’m very particular about detail. I like looking at as many facts as possible but yet I can’t cover all the facts. To study the facts for only this area is not enough. I know from experience and observation alone that most always, with few exceptions, the weather phenomenon, excessive cold, excessive snow, drought, rain and the list goes on, is usually the opposite phenomenon on the other coast. I mentioned only a few places that have had completely opposite weather snow experience. There are far too many places to point these facts out but I can’t resist mentioning Spokane, Washington as another location that has far more snow than what they usually experience at this time of year, they have had so far over 66” of snow this year, this is 23” above normal year to date snowfall. My attempt the other night was to clarify that the snow drought is nothing new for the Richmond area. People can only relate to the weather they have experienced in their life time. Any experience any of us have is only related to what we have experienced, not to experiences where we did not exist in the past. But to get a true picture you must look at the data of the past to see how it compares to the present. When you do this you are likely to be surprised. ( i.e., Global warming alarmist in this area, and other places, too, are quick say that Richmond’s weather is getting warmer and warmer. Alarmist say data that is pumped out from unproven computer models must be trusted and believed. They are quick to jump on the fact that scientist are warning us about the pending doom and gloom. Yet these same very same alarmist don’t mention that a majority of the scientist are not even climatologist and don’t have any expertise in climatology. They don’t mention the fact that many scientist, whose specialty is climatology, have abandoned global warming theory. They don’t mention the fact, on the news tonight, the thickening of polar ice has grown faster in the last three months than since records have been kept. They are also the ones that claim to be open-minded but yet if you bring up pure 100 % data facts they don’t want to hear the opposite argument. They will tell you to shut up. Much of the data is based on theory not data facts. The actual data, available from the NWS, is not based on theory. If you look at the annual mean temperature for every year for Richmond from 1890 through 2004 you will see that the cycle of above normal annual and below normal annual temperature is about the same in either direction. Richmond’s warmest annual temperature was in 1891. The period during the 1990’s through 2004 do not reflect any unusual warmth or record breaking warmth as compared to the past. You will see the cycle of above and below annual averages periods run about the same cycle though out the period. go look at the data that is available from the NWS. It seems that most haven’t a clue as to why Richmond, in general, is one of the most difficult areas for predicting snow forecast. Like you said, Virginia and other areas of the mid Atlantic region has had a shortage of normal snowfall, however, this is not at all unusual. To say that it will never snow like it use too. You could be right but I doubt that to hold true, simply because based on weather data history the weather has eventually always balanced things out.

  6. sad snow lover says:

    DC, I guess we’ll have to be patient forever, because it aint gonna happen unless it’s a fluke. Every prospect we’ve been given this year has been quickly whisped away. Snow doesn’t stay in the forecast for more than 24 hours before the forecast is quickly corrected to state that things are changing towards rain. Why doesn’t it ever work the other way? Why don’t they ever call for rain and change it towards snow? It’s getting depressing. Feb/March look to be our only hope based on Jim’s latest outlook, but given all of the busted hopes from January, I’m not holding my breath.

  7. jr. g says:

    bobby r/ i like your weather knowledge, however it seems like you directed that long statment toward me. i never said anything about richmond being in a snow belt. i live in the mountains out here near afton/waynesboro. and this area was in the snow belt. the average snow out here is normally around 2 feet. we would get snow when richmond saw rain as the snow line would usally set up between c.ville and richmond. looking at my records only once this decade have we reached our average and that was 02/03 when we reached 31.8 due mainly to that one storm in february that year. snow is not done in virginia foever it will snow here again but it will not be as common. everywhere from east tenn. weatern carolinas virginia md/ dc up to philly and east pa is in a major 5 year snow drought. climate averages are based on the last 30 years each completed year replaces the oldest year on that list, which means these last 5 years are now beginning to really lower the climatological snowfall average for the mid – atlantic region. forget about the richmond area when the mts start seeing less and less snow things are beginning to change. the blizzard of 96 dropped 34 inches over here c.ville got 24 inches and richmond got 11 or 12. blizzard of 93 dropped 23 inches here c.ville got 13 and richmond got heavy rain with 2 inches of snow at the back end of the storm. boy it would be great if one of those storms would make a return visit to virginia would’nt it ?? : )

  8. Gray says:

    well you think YOU guys got it bad..
    i now live in NORFOLK, VA
    besides two flurries we haven’t seen anything either.
    but the local weathermen are sayIn chance of snow this week

  9. Jake says:

    DC, if you think global warming is a farce, you are the one who needs to do your homework. I guess you now know more than all the scientists and world leaders who acknowledge it…pls give me a break. the reason the storms are tracking north is because the jet stream is moving north towards the north pole BECAUSE OF CLIMATE CHANGE. see this site.

  10. Chris says:

    wow, what a long post, very good info there, i am only 25 so i don’t know whats happened in the past. btw, where can i find this info out about historical snows here. i work in the grocery business, so if they would start calling for snow it would be great for me.

  11. bobby_r says:

    It’s been a while since I’ve checked in at Jim’s blog but I see that the general negative feeling about snow in Richmond is alive and well. It’s good to see that someone like Gray gave web info as to where you can go to study Richmond’s snowfall for past 100+ years. For those that believe Richmond has not ever experienced a snow drought, like we have for nearly a decade now, you obviously have little knowledge of Richmond weather facts. All you have to do is go look at the data and you will see that this snow drought is not unuaual at all. Let’s face it, Richmond has never ever been nor is it likely to ever be in a snow belt with only 12″ of snow annually, this is not very much snow. Some of you seem to think that just because Richmond is suffering a snow drought that it’s that way every where. You need to check your facts before making such a broad blanket statement. While we continue our snow drought there are lots of places that are well above normal in snowfall for this snow season. i.e., Grand Rapids Michgan has already 64″ of snow, which, to date, is 29.9″ above average. My favorite place, Caribou, Maine has had over 47″ of snow for the season, which is about 8.9″ above average for the date. Remember last year Caribou had 197″ of snow, which is 81″ above their yearly average. Grand Junction Colorodo this Christmas had its third white Christmas in a row. Grand Junction has less than a 20% chance to see a white Christmas. For those that don’t know this, Grand Junction has an annual snowfall of only about 17″… Not all places in Colorodo are blanketed with several feet of snow. There were places in the Rockies that had record snows last year and so far this year. The point here is that rockies get lots of snow, but they are not experiencing a snow drought. They have been getting far more than what they get in a normal average year. All of this has nothing to do with Richmond. All of this is mearly to point out to those you that think that there is a snow drought all over the U.S. is not true. To say that the snow drought is all over the U.S. is a flat out lie. Look at the facts.. all you have to do is do a little homework.

    Back to Richmond, when you view the graphs of Richmond’s annual snowfall you will see that there was an 11 year period from 1918 to 1929 that Richmond had only 2 years that there was more than 10″ of snow. There was another period from the mid 1930’s to the mid 1940’s that, again Richmond had less that 10″ of snow with only 2 years that had more than 10″ of snow. ( Many of those years during both of those periods Richmond had less than 5″ of snow.) When you look at the graph history you will see that Richmond had only ONE 10+ year period that Richmond had consistent snow every year, with the exception of I believe 2 years ( even those two years Richmond had over 10″ of snow). There was 15+” of snow every year from the late 1950’s through the early 1970’s. The 1960’s truly was Richmond’s snowy period. When you hear the baby boomers from the 1950’s and 1960’s talk about how Richmond got snow every year with multiple 4+” snows every year, they know what they are talking about. It was a wonderful time for snow lovers in that era. But it is the only time in Richomond weather history that it snowed consistantly year after year.

    For those that don’t want to believe it you will again have to face the real facts about Richmond weather. Richmond averages 85% of its winters that the temperature is 70 degrees or higher and 10% of Richmond winters will have 80 degrees or higher.

    One of the key problems with the lack of snow has been, besides the lack of cold air, has been the track of the storm systems. Most every strom has been to our west. This, too, is why places such as Philly have been experiencing much of the same type of weather pattern. Storms to the west bring in warm are from the south because of the rotation of the low pressure system. Being on the east side of the low we get southerly winds. If you will note there have been very few storms that have formed in the gulf states and tracked to the coast. Add to this problem, you will note that there have been almost no storms formed along the Atlantic coast. Keep in mind, that to have cold air at the surface is not enough, we must have cold air aloft, too. It can be 25 degrees at the surface but if it is above freezing aloft then we will get freezing rain. Thirty two degrees is not the magic number at the surface. The temperature above our heads is most important. It can be 40 degrees at the surface but if the air above is cold then it can snow and does snow when it’s that warm at the surface.

  12. DC says:

    The global warming comments are always entertaining. We’ll have snow again…sure, it’s been 5 years or so…but that doesn’t mean that we’re getting ready to become “the Deep South”. Even the deep South gets snow, and they already have this year. So that throws that “theory” out the window. Patience is key, and necessary. We’ll have a good 10+” for this winter’s totals when March 21st comes around and they report the winter snow fall amounts. Just you wait.

  13. sad snow lover says:

    thanks, Gray. it still seems like we are seeing a downward trend, but that definitely helps provide some perspective to the variations in the past. thanks for sharing.

  14. Gray says:


    there is always a few years with little or no snowfall.
    then they rebound with 20+ inches.

  15. sad snow lover says:

    one more request – Gray, can you or somebody please give me examples from the history books of a 5 year or more snow drought and rising temperatures in the winter? If you say this has happened before and is just a cycle, it would be helpful for me to see the data.

  16. dj says:

    maybe somebody should ask the owners of Wintergreen if they believe in Global Warming and climate change. They haven’t been able to open all of their slopes in ages, and they are pretty much solely dependent on making artificial snow because it just never happens anymore.

  17. sad snow lover says:

    I agree with jr. g. People think just because we get a few flakes here and there everything is fine and all is right with the world. Wrong. If you compare this to what it used to be, things are very wrong. The average snowfall in Richmond is over a foot per year, but we have not seen that in over 5 years. When I was growing up in Va Beach the snow line was always Williamsburg, so I thought I’d be in luck when I moved here. But no, the snow line has shifted from Charlottesville/DC to even further north to where they don’t even get anything anymore. I want to believe in snow, but when you say there is a real chance in the next 10 days, we have been hearing that for a long time now. And the long range forecasts never fail…as soon as the time gets closer, 30 degrees becomes 40 becomes 50 becomes 60 becomes 70 and next thing you know we are having a spring shower. not being pessimistic, just realistic. we are already into Jan and no real chances of snow have presented themselves, and there are only a few months left – and winter is only getting shorter. the climate changes we were supposed to see happen over the next 50 years are happening much quicker, right before our very eyes. not sure how you can argue with this when having a 60 or 70 degree day at least every other week in the winter has become the norm.

  18. jr.g says:

    i never said snow was totally gone from virginia but big snowy winters are. atmospheric conditions are changing worldwide not just on a local basis. if the whole state got 6 inches over the next 2 weeks , that would only be a drop in the bucket compared to the snow drought over the last decade. things have changed and virginia is no longer in the normal snow belt. snow will occur here but not at the frequency that it used too.

  19. Gray says:

    I can’t believe you guys are so optamistic :).. Just kidding. But snow is not gone in Virginia! These periods have happened over the course of history and mother nature balances it all out eventually. As a matter of fact there is a real chance of snow within the next 10-12 days!

  20. jr.g says:

    Thank you [ sad snow lover ] you said it well ! Snowy virginia winters are almost certainly a thing of the past. Will it ever snow in virginia again? Sure it will, but these events will be few and far between. As i said in my earlier post there has been very little snow even in the mountains out here in the past few winters and we would normally get snow even if the rest of the state did not. I know weather patterns get like this for alittle while sometimes, but i have been keeping a daily record of rain/snow since i was 12 starting in 1989 and since the winter of 1995/96 the amount of snow out here has been steadily dropping all the way to a average of just 4 or 5 inches a year over the past few winters. This is more than just a anomaly its probably the normal for virginia for this point foward. THE SNOW FOR THE MOST PART IS PROBABLY GONE 😦

  21. Wow, Elaine! It’s like we’re soul mates! Let’s meet at the Waffle House on Midlothian Tnpk tonight at midnight! Wear something revealing!

  22. sad snow lover says:

    Good old Global Warming…shifting the jet stream North. It’s hard to argue with that as we’ve seen it before our very eyes over the last 5 years. I’m not sure how to have hope any more since it’s just expected to get warmer every year, not colder. The snow is gone. Richmond’s climate is now that of the deep south. Even DC and Phili and the mountains of VA get no snow anymore. You pretty much have to be north of New York City to get anything, and it will continue to shift north. Sad, but true. Let’s not all be in denial here.

  23. Elaine says:

    Mighty Dyckerson, we think alike! I was just going to say something like that.

    I just put away all my Christmas decorations but am leaving the snowmen out with hope! It would be so nice to have a big snowstorm.

  24. Jim used to get kickbacks from Ukrops every time he predicted snow in the forecast. Now that they’ve put an end to that, we get nothing but rain. Coincidence?? I think not.

  25. Katie says:

    At my old farmhouse in Woodford, Va (Caroline County) the air has been clouded with very small flurries. You know the children are wishing for more, but I think this is just enough.

  26. CAC says:

    And I quote Jim…

    “It’s been a cold beginning to the new year, but at least the sunshine helped out. The forecast into the weekend brings a couple of clipper systems to our north, with little effects around here except for some cloudiness Friday. Shower chances will go up with the second front late Sunday. Temperatures through Monday will run slightly above normal.

    A more significant storm will affect the region Tuesday, sliding our way from the Mid-South. Temperatures will be warm enough for just rain, although it will be a generally cold day. Rain should then end early Wednesday. Still no real signs of big winter storms for us.”

    Still no real signs of big winter storms for us?????? You just said the 1st 2 weeks of January is worth watching. Just jump to the coclusion Jim, Will it snow ever again Jim yes or no?

  27. Sandra says:

    I just heard of a meteor shower on January 3. Will we be able to see the shower from Richmond and do you have an estimate for the time to view it best in this area? Happy New year and thanks

  28. CAC says:

    Seems like more rain to me according to your outlooks. Jim, I think sometimes you don’t go out on a limb enough, I know it most likly will be rain, but throw some snow in the forecast just for the fun of it once a week, maybe our chances would go up. Like on Friday’s system, I’m pretty sure that we will have some winter weather to start, then maybe change to rain. And next Tuesday, I know you have seen the models, they all point to a high to the north, ridge in the west and cold in the east, combined with a low pressure coming up from the Gulf. I know some models have changed that idea, but we had a greenland block on the models for days. The pattern next week screams snow for the east coast, and you all have rain, and don’t even the mention the fact that it could be some winter weather next week…Like I said channel 12 Mets. sometimes you all go a little bit toooooo conservative. I probably have some spelling errors in this, but you should understand. Other than that,good job forecasting the winter weather so for, but like I said I don’t know if that system for next week will just have rain here, and some winter weather to start in the “far NW portion of the state”, but I could be wrong, and I have no problem saying I was wrong.

  29. Cheryl F. says:

    I remember January 1987 when we had two back-to-back “big ones”. Could we possible get a “snowprise” this year??? Virginia is known for their four seasons so hopefully we will see alittle winter around here this year.

  30. jr. g says:

    lets all face the facts , snow in virginia will probably never happen on a consistent basis again. instead of being the norm during the winter , snow will become the exception. more like charlotte or atlanta where snow can occur and sometimes big snows. however these events occur very infregrently. thats clearly becoming the norm now in virginia. heck i live in the mountains out here near afton, and there has been very little snnowfall in recent years even out here. i see snow on the distant mts towards the west virginia line once a week including yesterday, but all we can hope for is a brief lake effect snowshower that sometimes sneeks out of west virginia. 😦

  31. Jim B says:

    Amanda, yes we are seeing more than the usual number of spritzles of snow this season. I went over my records and found that so far we have had 4 “snowstorms”, if you can call them that, on Nov. 19 and 21 and on December 8 and 31. Each produced a trace of snow; i.e., a brief swirling around of flakes without accumulation, like today’s snow. I am not hoping for a winter wonderland, because that brings on accidents, ground covered with snow (so can’t plant winter shrubs), slippery and snow-covered streets that never get plowed, limited parking facilities, and cancellations.

  32. Amanda says:

    Winter csan still happen in Richmond…. There is this usual pattern of snow drought in Richmond and then in one year with one storm we make the difference up for the rest of the year… As for this winter.. is it me or are we seeing more flurries and snow showers than we usually have by this point in the season… have faith mother nature will eventually gift us with a winter wonderland…and speaking of flurries we ujust had one in Chester as well….

  33. Ariel says:

    I just saw a little bitty flurry here about 5 minutes ago in Lakeside. Nice surprise.

  34. Kristin T. says:

    Oh please let it be so! I’m snow deprived. I may have to move to Alaska during the winters just so I can get my snow fix if this keeps up!

  35. Judy says:

    It has been “high and dry” around here for too long, so long in fact that it is spooky. However, I think that mother nature is going to do some corrections here and balance it all out in the end… she usually does. I will be waiting with open arms.. I want to sled again before I get too old and risk a broken hip lol. I have lots of faith in Jim because I know that he doesn’t go out on a limb so when he calls for snow… I will get the sled out.

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