Virginia’s winter outlook for 2019-2020 expected to be relatively mild

The upcoming winter could bring its usual woes, but overall is expected to be relatively mild with typical periods of cold and a few snowy days

Jim Winter Weather Outlook

Winter outlooks (they are not “forecasts”, that dwell in the predicting-out-a-few-days ahead realm) are at best educated guesses sprinkled with science. This winter, like most, falls into that zone, with few clear signals. El Nino and La Nina are predicted to be neutral through the winter, but there are other considerations beyond those “well-known” ones, including ocean temperatures in other areas of the Pacific and Atlantic, soil moisture content, and our late-Fall global pattern trends.

NOAA issued their official winter outlook a couple of weeks ago and updated the December-February seasonal forecast on 11/21. It offers a studied, reasonable assessment of what we can expect, and our winter outlook is a Virginia-focused extrapolation of their general ideas.

Here are the NOAA outlooks for the U.S.

NOAA Dec-Feb Temperature Outlook
NOAA Dec-Feb Temperature Outlook (Source: NOAA CPC)
NOAA Dec-Feb Precipitation Outlook
NOAA Dec-Feb Precipitation Outlook (Source: NOAA CPC)

Here are a few of our winter bullet-points for Virginia:

* December may start out cold into first two weeks with the second half of the month probably turning milder. A white Christmas seems unlikely given that (a rarity anyway)

* January and February could be usual bill of fare for Virginia, with at least a couple of deep cold outbreaks, and if expectations of an active Midwest clippers track holds true, then at least a couple of hits with small to moderate amounts from those of snow or ice

* In general, the winter could be a bit milder temperature-wise than average, but with the usual occasional dips into downright cold territory

Key Points
Key Points (Source: NBC12)
General Forecast Points
General Forecast Points (Source: NBV12)

* Last winter brought over 13″ of snow (above average) but 11.5″ of that was from a single storm in December. The takeaway; our BIG snow totals in central Virginia are almost always associated with southern or coastal storms, and IF we see at least one of those (always possible), then hitting or exceeding our annual average total of 10″ could easily happen

Comparisons with the past
Comparisons with the past (Source: NBC12)
Snowfall near average, mild winter overall
Snowfall near average, mild winter overall (Source: NBC12)

* And finally, this word of caution: Snow forecasts are akin to walking into a casino. There is absolutely no way to predict hitting a jackpot but for the whims of luck ( or bad luck), and since the bulk of our total seasonal snow totals comes from those bigger storms, as the saying goes, only time will tell!


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