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Your local Winter Forecast for 2021-2022

Published: Nov. 22, 2021 at 5:47 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Long range forecasts are not an easy task. Just a reminder that we can’t predict the first snow weeks in advance. We only get an idea of the first snow, when a storm capable of bringing snow is within the immediate forecast. We want to give you an idea of what we could be looking at heading into the winter.

Average snowfall per season across our area ranges quite a bit as you would expect. The higher up in elevation, the greater the snowfall.

Snow ranges from 80″ to 170″ every season across the Alleghenies.

About 25″ to 35″for the Potomac Highlands

Around 20″-25″ for the Shenandoah Valley, and up to about 50″ for the Blue Ridge.

Per season
Per season(WHSV)

MAIN FACTOR THIS YEAR:

One of the driving factors for this winter is the La Nina. This is also the second La Nina winter in a row, but that’s not unusual. So what is La Nina? It’s the cooler than average waters off the west coast of South America. This is because of upwelling, which means the cooler deep ocean waters are brought to the surface. This cooling affects ocean currents and weather across the U.S. One of the results of a La Nina is a milder winter in the deep south and Mid-Atlantic

If we look back at all of the moderate (strength) La Nina winters, there’s a clear signal of below average snow for our entire area, including the Alleghenies. The only exception was the winter of 1995-1996 but most of that snow was all in the one big blizzard. If we take out the Blizzard of 1996 snowfall, that would have left snowfall that winter close to and just slightly below average.

The trend during moderate to strong La Nina winters is below average snow with just one...
The trend during moderate to strong La Nina winters is below average snow with just one exception.(WHSV)

The same goes for strong La Nina winters. Strong La Nina winters have produced well below average snow, with one exception for the Alleghenies in 2010-2011. For the rest of the area during a strong La Nina all winters produced less than average snow.

Other things I look at to forecast a winter include how the storm tracks are setting up during the end of hurricane season and into the fall. In the winter, tracks to our west lead to more rain events or even some mixing. Low tracks to the south and east would produce more snow. So far this year, I haven’t seen a trend with coastal lows across the Atlantic. There have been more clipper and Great Lakes storm tracks. This brings in cold air but little to no snow. (Except for the Alleghenies)

SNOWFALL FORECAST for 2021-2022:

Overall this winter, I expect below average snow for the Alleghenies, the Potomac Highlands, and the Shenandoah Valley. So if you like big snow events this winter might not be for you.

If we compare this forecast to last year, I’d expect snowfall in a similar range for the Alleghenies, but less snow this year compared to last for the Potomac Highlands and the Valley

For the upcoming winter
For the upcoming winter(WHSV)

WINTER TEMPERATURE FORECAST:

For temperatures I do think we’re going to stay cold with below average temperatures through the rest of November and into mid to late December before we start to see a flip in the pattern. In fact I posted this on my Facebook on November 9th.

Heading into January, I expect a pattern flip that should continue into February and into March. Now this does not mean we won’t see any cold days, and it doesn’t mean we won’t see any snow into the New Year. This means that overall when we talk about the month in general, I expect above average temperatures. So we may have more warm spells in the first few months of 2022.

As always it’s best to be over prepared than under prepared. We will always let you know when the next storm is on the way and you can get your local forecast on the WHSV weather app.

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