As the weather continues to get colder many are wondering if we will see a snowy winter.
Here is the outlook from the First Alert Storm Team.
Winter is quickly approaching and every year we look at a number of factors to see what the upcoming winter may hold.
The last several winters have been from one extreme to another. Refer to the graphic on your right.
In the winter of 2009-2010 (also known as the winter of Snowmageddon) snowfall throughout the area topped 50".
As far as last winter we forecast snowfall and temperatures right at average. That forecast was dead on and we did receive normal snowfall amounts.
However if you'll remember almost 90% of that snow all came in March just before spring.
So let's start first with what is average, or typical for this area.
Based on 30 years, which is how climate averages are calculated, average snowfall for the Valley is about 20 to 25 inches, the graphic to the right is from the National Weather Service in Sterling.
Into the mountains of West Virginia this number increases quite a bit.
Average for the western facing mountains of Highland, Pendleton, and Grant counties can range from 70" to over 100" of snow per winter season.
There is a wide range of average snowfall amounts for the higher elevations.
But this is average, so that's accounting for high snowfall years, as well as the low snowfall winters.
As far as the driving pattern this year like El Nino or La Nina, there isn't either pattern in place.
We call this a neutral phase, or ENSO neutral. This is the same phase as last winter.
So first, I looked at past ENSO neutral winters in the Valley.
I averaged the snowfall for neutral years going back 50 winters.
That gave an average of 30" of snow during neutral phase years.
Something else we're looking at. is the Eurasian snow cover. There is a known strong correlation that high amounts of snow cover, especially in October in that part of the globe, leads to a hefty east coast winter. this October, Eurasian snow cover has increased more than normal.
Now is this full proof? No, but they are some good indicators. Other factors are the jet stream, and something we've talked about in the past, the Arctic Oscillation, experience and sometime just a gut feeling.
The Arctic Oscillation will bring in cooler temperatures in the negative phase, and mild temperatures in the positive phase. The forecast for the Arctic Oscillation only goes out about 2 weeks. However sometimes it can stay in the negative/positive phase for a month, or longer.
So this is what the First Alert Storm Team has come up with for the upcoming winter.
We're expecting snowfall slightly above average. For the Valley, that would be more than about 25" of snow.
We do feel that temperatures are going to be near average, but there is a strong possibility that at the beginning of 2014 we could see temperatures dipping a little below average at that time. Keep in mind that's also when we tend to see the majority of our snowfall. January and February are typically the "snowiest" months of the winter.
Now this doesn't specify when we will see snow. So we could see many small to moderate snow storms, or just a couple of big storms. If you're a snow lover, this upcoming winter may be one you'll enjoy.
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