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Tim’s 2014 – 2015 DC Winter Forecast

October 12, 2014

After a cooler than normal summer and a very inactive Atlantic hurricane season what can we expect for the upcoming winter across the Washington Region?  The latest climate models continue to suggest there is a 60 to 70% probability of a weak El Nino developing late this fall and continuing through the upcoming winter

After researching historical analog years (historical climate data with similar conditions, etc.) I found eight weak El Nino winters and further drilled down to six years that had similar summer conditions (temperatures, inactive Atlantic hurricane season, active Pacific hurricane season and a developing weak El Nino). 

Tim's Washington DC Metropolitan Area 2014 - 2015 Snowfall Forecast

Tim’s Washington DC Metropolitan Area 2014 – 2015 Snowfall Forecast (Click on image for larger view)

Keep in mind that before you go and buy a snow blower these snowfall predictions are based on an average of the seasonal snowfall that fell during those six analog years. Some analog years featured below average snowfall and others well above average snowfall. The reason for wide variations in the six analogs has to do with the unpredictable nature of the North Atlantic Oscillation. If the NAO (North Atlantic Oscillation) does indeed remain mostly negative (increased blocking over eastern Canada & Greenland) during the upcoming winter, I would be surprised if the Washington Region didn’t receive at least one Nor’easter with heavy snowfall.


Tim’s Washington DC Region 2014 – 2015 Snowfall Forecast (Click on image for larger view)

Northeast Winter Forecast (Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York & Boston) 2014 – 2015: Northeast Winter Forecast 2014 - 2015 Northeast Winter Forecast 2014 – 2015 (click on image for larger view)

Analog Years (The historical climate data used to produce this snowfall forecast):

I averaged the snowfall that occured during the 6 analog years and here is what the big cities received.

I averaged the snowfall that occurred during the 6 analog years and here is what the big cities received.


Temperature anomalies associated with the 6 analog years that I chose (image courtesy: NOAA).  I expect colder than average temperatures across a large portion of the eastern United States.


Precipitation anomalies associated with the 6 analog years that I chose (image courtesy: NOAA). I expect near normal to above normal precipitation across the Gulf coast and up the eastern seaboard.

Upper Level (500 mb) Height (High & Low Pressure) Anomalies during the six analog years I chose:


A look at the 500 mb (upper level) height anomalies during these years suggests a ridge across the Pacific northwest, a deep trough in the east and massive blocking over Greenland.

Average Snowfall across the National Capital Region:

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Wednesday Could Feature a Rush Hour From Hell (Well More So Than Usual)

October 12, 2014

A strong cold front will approach the Washington Region Tuesday night passing through our area on Wednesday. A period of torrential rainfall, gusty winds and cloud to ground lightning are likely. Wind shear values will be running higher than usual for this time of year.  The added spin (wind shear) in the atmosphere could produce isolated tornadoes.  The models continue to slow the progress of the thunderstorms with each run, so if the morning rush hour is fine, the afternoon rush hour could feature torrential rain and severe weather… plan accordingly.

NAM Model Forecast (Image courtesy:

NAM Model Forecast shows Severe Thunderstorms moving eastward out of the Ohio Valley late Tuesday night.  This line of storms may produce damaging winds, torrential rainfall and isolated tornadoes on Wednesday across the Washington Area.  (Image courtesy:

GFS Model Forecast  (Image Courtesy:

GFS Model Forecast – 1PM Wednesday – A squall line will likely move through the DC Region either during the morning or afternoon rush hour (Wednesday). (Image Courtesy:

Bulk Shear (Wind Shear) Forecast (Image courtesy:

 Surface to 500 mb Bulk Shear (Wind Shear) Forecast (Image courtesy:

Sneak Peak at the New Snow Accumulation Map Format

October 4, 2014 New Snowfall Accumulation Map for the Washington Region New Snowfall Accumulation Map for the Washington Region

With less than two months (a little over 8 weeks) away from Meteorological Winter (December 1st through the end of February) I have updated my snowfall accumulation map format. This is NOT my winter forecast, I am simply showcasing what you can expect from my snowfall accumulation maps (colors, etc.) Always click on my snowfall accumulation maps for a larger view.

I will issue my Washington DC Area 2014 – 2015 Winter Forecast in mid October.

El Nino Update & Implications on the Upcoming Winter

September 28, 2014

The latest climate forecast models continue to forecast a 60 to 75 percent probability of weak El Nino conditions developing later this fall and continuing through the upcoming winter.

El Nino Winters and Snowfall at National Airport

El Nino Winters and Snowfall at National Airport (

El Nino conditions develop when the trade winds weaken causing warmer than average sea surface temperatures to develop across the Equatorial Pacific. When this occurs, the southern branch of the jet stream becomes more active directly impacting the weather across the United States during the winter months. For the Washington Area, the amount of snow or rain and winter temperatures depend on the strength of the El Nino (weak, moderate or strong).

There are other factors of course that impact our winter weather, one of the most prominent being the phase (positive or negative) of the North Atlantic Oscillation (blocking over eastern Canada & Greenland). Simply put, the more blocking you have in the upper levels of the atmosphere over the North Atlantic the higher the probability of low pressure systems slowing down along the Mid-Atlantic coastline (dumping snow). A weak El Nino and chronic negative NAO during the winter of 2009-2010 produced the snowiest winter since records have been kept here in the National Capital Region.

Let’s take a look at how temperatures vary (cooler or warmer than average during the winter months) during strong, moderate and weak El Nino Winters:


Strong El Nino: Temperature Anomalies


Moderate El Nino: Temperature Anomalies


Weak El Nino: Temperature Anomalies

Let’s now take a look at how precipitation varies (wetter or drier than average during the winter months) depending up on the strength of the El Nino:



Strong El Nino: Precipitation Anomalies


Moderate El Nino: Precipitation Anomalies


Weak El Nino: Precipitation Anomalies

The stronger the El Nino (warmer the sea surface temperatures are off the Equatorial Pacific) the more noticeable the effects are on the continental United States. A strong El Nino can produce rainy, mild winters across the Mid-Atlantic states while a weak El Nino has a less noticeable impact.

If you like snow, weak to moderate El Nino winters are certainly more conducive in producing southern tracking storms while a strong El Nino (Winter of 1972-73 & 1997-98) produced two of the least snowy (mild winters) in Washington’s history when under a quarter of an inch of snow fell at National Airport.  Those winters produced lots of rain as opposed to snow because the temperatures were too warm.


Latest Forecast Model Predictions:

Image courtesy:

Image courtesy:

Image courtesy:

Image Courtesy:

Image Courtesy:

The latest forecast from mid-September shows a slight uptick in probability that a weak El Nino may develop late this fall continuing into the Winter months.

I am a huge fan on the European Forecast Model.  It is interesting to note that the European forecast model (ECMWF) is one of the more bullish models in predicting moderate El Nino conditions during the upcoming winter months.

The vast majority of forecast models currently do not suggest a strong El Nino developing.  At this time, a weak El Nino seems likely, however if the European Forecast model is on to something and sea surface temperatures continue to warm… we may have a moderate strength El Nino on our hands. 

I will be issuing my Washington Winter Forecast in mid-October as by then we should have more confidence in the strength of the potential upcoming El Nino.  Stay Tuned.

Average Time of First Frost in the Washington Region

September 17, 2014
Average Time of First Frost Across the National Capital Region

Average Time of First Frost Across the National Capital Region

It’s that wonderful time of year…cool crisp mornings, mild, sunny afternoons, the smell of wood burning in fireplaces, honey crisp apples, Halloween just around the corner… and of course the first frost/freeze of the season is only several weeks away.  Fall is without a doubt my favorite season.

Meteorological Fall begins September 1st and runs through the end of November. The Fall Equinox (first day of Autumn) this year comes Tuesday, September 23rd! The growing season will be coming to a close very soon. Happy Fall! The map above depicts when on average the first frost/freeze occurs here in the Washington Region. The further one goes from the warmth of the Chesapeake Bay and Tidal Potomac the earlier you can expect the first frost and or freeze as we head into the spectacular month of October.

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