The impacts of climate change have made it increasingly hard to classify certain temperatures as “unseasonably warm.”
Nevertheless, the first week of November has brought with it days that have felt more akin to spring, raising questions as to what sort of inclement weather, if any, the region may face in the months ahead.
Winter officially kicks off December 21, and according to one area meteorologist, Northern Virginia residents should expect one that, for the most part, resembles last year, a period in which there was just one moderate snow event, on January 3, which stranded drivers on I-95 as snow removal services struggled to keep pace.
According to Fox 5 Meteorologist Mike Thomas, the factor influencing the area’s winter weather systems the most will once again be the prolonged La Niña weather pattern in which the region is mired.
“A typical La Niña pattern is often defined by milder than normal conditions across the southern and eastern United States, while the coldest conditions of winter get locked up across the interior of the country,” Thomas writes. “So, we are not favoring a major blizzard this upcoming winter. It’s not impossible, but the history suggests we will have a better opportunity in other winters.”
By analyzing available data and the predictability of a La Niña winter, Thomas says the area should expect between 9” and 18” of snow this winter — about the same as last year.
Still, there may be potential for more snow as the area gets deeper into winter, Thomas adds, during which time La Niña is expected to fade.
As for temperatures, the latter part of November is expected to bring with it some cooler days, with December continuing to dip through the holidays.
“January and February will be battle months,” Thomas says, “back and forth between ‘seasonally mild’ and cold.”
The new year should also bring with it busier periods of potential snowfall, he adds, a historically common shift between January and March in area weather systems that, on average, produce 86 percent of the area’s annual snowfall.
So, enjoy warm temperatures while you can. Chillier days are ahead. And if we do get snow, let’s just hope it doesn’t once again result in the world’s largest campout on I-95.
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