Winter Outlook, Part II

My outlook for the upcoming winter is that it will be generally warmer than normal with slightly above normal snowfall.   That snow forecast, calling for a seasonal total of 10-15″ for the Richmond area, hinges almost entirely on us getting hit by a nor’easter at some point during the winter.  If that doesn’t happen, the forecast will bust, but I do think the odds favor at least one such storm this winter.  We’ll see.

This “one big storm” scenario is typically how we receive most of our snowfall during a so-called snowy winter.  It is the single 6-12″ snowstorm that will help skew a winter’s totals  from below to above the long-term average.

All that being said,  our patterns this winter will be governed by many different variables, but the biggest commonly talked about is El Nino.  This warm anomaly in southern Pacific sea surface temperatures west of the coast of South America has been linked with certain winter jet stream patterns over North America.

This El Nino is moderate, and NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center expects it to maintain it’s current magnitude for most of the winter.  The result would favor an overall continuation of the weather patterns we’ve seen lately.  A dominant southern jet stream will  race storms across the South, while a struggling Polar jet stream makes stabs at cold air intrusions, particularly over the Midwest.  But truly cold air, while making repeated dips into the U.S., will be hard pressed to persist.   This could change, with highest odds for that during late winter.

Other players in the grand scheme are the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO), Canadian autumn snowpack, soil mositure levels,  and many other factors that are all intrinsically tied together, yet tempt us too much to over-analyze.  I won’t bore you with the details here.

As I write this blog, there are indications that the first half of December may give us an appropriate kick-off to the winter, with a few transient shots of pretty cold air, with a storm track that will favor rain here and snow over the Midwest. 

* posted by Jim Duncan

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5 Responses to Winter Outlook, Part II

  1. Lou says:

    Let it snow 10 feet i want it to snow so much that it creates total gridlock rendering the hussle and bussle of the highway impossible. I am so tired of people in cars ripping and running the highway its like kids with their toys on a playground. It has gotten so out of control that i rarely go anywhere anymore. Plus some people just scare me the way they drive.

  2. Shawn says:

    Joe Bastardi is saying that the core of the winter will be between DC and Charlotte (Mid-Atlantic). I hope!!!

  3. kristinrosemoon says:

    I want some decent snow this year. Last year’s March storm was nice, but two or more good snowfalls that last longer than a day, will be enough to satisfy me.

  4. Phil Riggan says:

    White Christmas Jim? I’ll take it, especially since it is on a weekend….

    Nice stats Sirius. If 19″ comes in two nice Friday night storms, I’ll take it!

  5. Sirius...The Star Dog says:

    Moderate el Nino years have been good for snowfall in our area.

    Year ending…
    2003 – 17″
    1987 – 21.8″
    1966 – 29.2″
    1969 – 15.9″
    1995 – 3.9″

    All but 1995 had a quasi-biennial oscillation (QBO) in its east phase…just like this year!

    Moderate el Nino + QBO-e = above average snowfall @RIC this winter (19″).

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