Where’s the snow? DMV left wondering if it will get any winter weather this year.
It seems to be the question on everyone’s mind, where the heck is the snow?
As of January 28th, cumulative snow total at all three of the area’s major airports (where official records are kept) have yet to reach the 1” mark. Aside from one near miss in early January that brought portions of Southern Maryland more than half a foot of snow, the season has been filled with a lot of disappointment for the snow lovers around our region so far.
So what’s up? Well, the temperatures, that’s what. December came in generally as expected with our winter outlook. Two strong shots of Arctic cold, but not a lot of snow. Our expectation was that the pattern would continue into January, which is typically a month where we see more clippers begin to make their way southward out of Canada.
That could not have been farther from what happened.
A strong ridge developed over the southeast United States, which is a strong warm signal for our neck of the woods. This feature forced the storm tracks inland up through the Great Lakes, which is a track that favors rain over snow in the Mid-Atlantic region. Such a track also enhances the warmth in the region.
How warm? Given the forecast for the next three days Washington, DC is currently on pace to be tied with 1974, 1950, and 1949 for the fourth fewest January days below freezing on record with only nine, in a month that usually averages twenty-two. As of this morning, this January has been the twelfth warmest on record.
*** Winter cold returns; snow drought continues. ***
* How bad is the drought? *
But how bad of a snow drought are we really in? Well consider chart two above, which group’s snowfall recorded through the first three months of the snowfall season (November-January) over the last 25 years.
Only one year had less snow though this point in the season than we do now, the super warm winter of 1997-1998, nineteen years ago. Washington, D.C. is currently in its worst snowfall drought since the turn of the millennium. But the question is, does the lack of snowfall through what is typically the coldest month of winter mean that we are doomed to a lack of snow heading into the second half of the snow season? Well it is hard to say.
Forecasting the weather in the long range is like forecasting who is going to win the super bowl. Sure, you know who is showing up to play in the game, but you do not know exactly how the game will unfold. By the end of the game, things might turn out exactly like you expect, but throw in a surprise play or two and a total upset can easily happen. Generally speaking when we look at something like snowfall, it comes down to statistics.
* Should snow-lovers have any hope? *
Let us look at past winters where snowfall came in well below normal though the month of January. There are only 10 other winters in the entire weather history of DC (which stretches back to the late 1800s) that have seen half an inch of snow or less though this point in the season. 90% of those years had more snow during the February – April time period, with 50% of those cases receiving over half a foot of snow before the season was over.
This sample size is a little small for my liking, so let us expand to include all years where Washington received less than 3” of snow through this point in the season, considerably less than the 8.4” that is the average over that same time period. This expands our data set to 30 years, which is shown in chart three above.
In these cases, a whopping 26 of the 30 years (86.7%) saw more snow during the second half of the season. Once again, half of these cases (15) saw snow total exceed half a foot during the February to April time frame. The similar numbers seen between the small sample size of 10 and the larger one of 30 should give snow lovers a good amount of hope that we probably have not seen the last of winter just yet.
* What influences our weather? *
Still, we wanted to take the data and push it just a little bit farther. While there are many different factors and phenomenon around the globe that influence our weather here in the United States, one of the most important (and most commonly known) is El Niño and La Niña.
The majority of major snow events in this region have come during El Niño winters, take last year as an example. Currently this winter we have been in a neutral to weak La Niña pattern, which is one of the reasons we did not favor a major snow event when we wrote our winter outlook back in October.
So we took our grouping of 30 years and looked at only those years which were also in this neutral to weak La Niña leaning pattern. We once again got a grouping of only 10 years (shown above) with the stats slightly different from the larger group of 30 we previously looked at. Only 80% of cases went on to see more snow in the second half of the season than during the first half, with only 40% of these receiving more than a half a foot of snow, which last happened during the winter of 1992-1993. What is interesting about that year is that the majority of snow fell in mid-March during what is now famously known as the Storm of the Century. Parts of the region received over a foot of snow with that storm.
The general take away is this, it is still far too early to write off this winter as over from a snow perspective despite the snow drought through the first half of the snow season.
Historically, February is actually the most active month when it comes to the bigger snow storms, followed by early March. This is particularly true in the types of years with the global weather pattern we are currently seeing (neutral/weak La Niña). That being said, we still do not favor getting any storm to the level seen last year (2-3 feet), but still anticipate a more active storm pattern as we head through the next couple of months.
* Will the wintry weather return return this week? *
So with February beginning this week, is there any sign of winter returning? In fact there is!
However, what impact they will actually have on our region remains to be seen. The first chance is actually Sunday night through Monday morning (shown above) when a weak piece of energy will slide out of the mountains and work its way across our region.
It is likely to bring some scattered, light snow showers along for the ride which could put down a spotty coating here or there around the region, with the exception of the mountains to the west which could pick up several inches. The only concern for this system will be if the snow is able to linger into the Monday morning rush it could lead to a few slick spots, however at this time we do not anticipate widespread issues with this storm.
* When is our next risk for winter weather? *
The next risk of snow comes right on Monday’s heels by Tuesday evening.
Models currently show a clipper system rapidly moving across the Great Lakes and spilling into the Northeast. As things stand right now, this system is too far north to bring us any widespread snowfall activity on Tuesday other than a few flurries.
Clippers are notorious for how difficult they are to forecast however, and a small southward jog in the storm track could mean snow issues for our region potentially during the evening commute on Tuesday. Remember that evening commute with the clipper before the big blizzard last year? Yes we are trying to avoid that this year.
Again this one looks like it is currently missing our region to the north, but due to its close proximity we are watching it very closely.
* Are you tracking any other winter weather? *
The third risk for snow comes into the region on Friday as a wave of low pressure tries to organize itself along a stalled frontal boundary south of the DC region.
If it is able to get its act together enough, models currently indicate that we could have the potential for a little light snow during the morning commute on Friday. The problem is, the features necessary for this storm’s formation are not all in place yet, and we do not believe we are getting a clear picture of what this system possibly could (or could not) be just yet.
Just know that the late workweek is another time period that we are watching closely, but as of this moment it is not something we are overly concerned with. Just another light snow threat.
* What about next weekend? ….. ( Continued at Link Below )
By Mike Thomas 01/28/17
Sky is Beautiful, temps at 50F+ degrees, Sat. and Sun.
People are out cleaning off porches, getting grills ready and getting ready for Spring. Kids are in shirts without jackets. You would never know it’s the middle of Winter here on the lower and middle East Coast.
People here have forgotten all about Winter.
It’s going to Snow? Yea, right. I’ll believe it when I see it. Where’s all that snow they’re talking about? I’m still waiting. If it does, well…it is Winter.
People here Totally Disrespect Winter!
What this means is that “They” don’t plan on bringing any other Cold Systems Westward, cross country. “They” know that as long as I’m at Full Power, an Orgone Wave Event will intercept any westbound systems and bring not only rain but warmer temps.
They think by not bringing a system westward, an orgone wave won’t happen an thus…no rain.
Silly rabbits…tricks are for kids. Orgone Energy doesn’t need a wave event to bring rain. The East Coast was in the middle of the East Coast Soaking long before the Wave Events started, we were getting so much rain.
This seems to me to be grasping at straws…and that smells like defeat!
The Winter Games are not over yet, but it doesn’t really matter…”They” lost. They must be getting use to it by now.
If you notice the map below…there are no weather systems headed cross country. I guess that’s one route they don’t want to take anymore. The smell of fear and defeat fills the air.
Even if they do defeat me, however unlikely :), hey…I’m only one guy. A single Guardian. I mean like…what kind of victory can that actually be for them? An entire country-wide, weather control system with the actual Winter Season on their side…defeats one Sky Guardian?
We haven’t had a single Snow in the Area since I went to full strength. There’s snow around, as you can see. But so far…that’s all it is…around. 🙂
All and all, it’s been a great winter…so far.
I only have one word for the weather controllers…”COWARDS!”