A rare third straight La Niña winter expected, could impact Virginia’s winter
Could mean milder, drier winter in Richmond
RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - It looks like we are in for the third La Niña winter in a row this year, and that could have implications for our winter weather here in Virginia.
If La Niña does continue into the winter, it will be just the third time in recorded history with three straight La Niña years. NOAA predicts an 80% chance La Niña continues from November through January. La Niña refers to cooler than average waters near the equator in the pacific ocean - which can alter weather patterns in other parts of the globe too.
Typically, a La Niña winter results in warmer temperatures and less snow/precipitation in Richmond than an El Niño winter or an ENSO neutral winter (one without La Niña or El Niño). A drier than average winter is not good news for us in Virginia because we are already running below average in terms of rainfall this year (we’re 5 inches below average rainfall in Richmond as of mid-September).
One big caveat here: seasonal forecasting is much more challenging than a short term forecast. There are many factors which can cause actual winter conditions to be different than the seasonal forecast a few months prior, such as the jet stream position/storm track.
Snow lovers should not completely despair, because there are a few examples of a snowier than average winter in a La Niña year. As shown in the bar graph above, there are some La Niña winters which received more snow than an El Niño winter.
The “average” seasonal snowfall in RVA over the last 30 years is 8.8 inches. In the last two winters (both La Niña winters) we had 4.7 inches in 2021-2022, and 7 inches in 2020-2021, which were both below average.
NOAA predicts above average temperatures this winter up and down the east coast of the U.S.
The NBC12 First Alert Weather team will keep you updated on the winter outlook as we get closer!
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