StormTracker8: John Bernier’s 2023 winter weather forecast for central Virginia
RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It’s time to turn 40y Annual winter forecast here in central Virginia.
One thing is certain, in my opinion, is that we will get more snow than last year! In fact, the last dramatic snowfall we had was in December of 2018, when 11 inches of snow fell.
The winter of 2023-2024 will be El Niño season. You’ve heard all about it, and the fact that this game could become the strongest ever!
This year’s El Niño could beat the previous records of 2015-16 (a good snow year for us) and 1997-98 (a not so good snow year for us). Even if it’s short of the record, that would put it closer to the 2009-2010 season, which was the best snow season we’ve seen in a long time!
Historically, during an El Niño winter, the northern part of the United States is warmer and drier than normal, while the southern part of the states is cooler and wetter. Virginia is somewhere in between and it could go either way.
With our recent history, winters are expected to be a little warmer in the area.
What does snowfall mean in the area? A higher temperature may mean less risk of snowfall but just the opposite may be true. All we have to do is maximize the return on the winter storms that form near us to get heavy snow.
Continued warm air would keep us and the oceans warmer. This means that if we can get cold air — which we will sometimes do — as a storm develops off the coast, the potential for snow increases.
So, I’m looking forward to fewer but more impactful storms to impact us this winter.
Now here’s the good news if you like snow. Although the long-term trend is for less snow in our area due to climate change, there is an opportunity for us to overcome it.
In a moderate to strong El Niño year, the mid-Atlantic region shows increased snowfall. In fact, we are one of the “major locations” for heavy snow.
For now, while we may have a “scare” in December, we will likely avoid any significant snowfall. The reason for this is that we probably will not see massive intrusion of Arctic air into the region. What to watch for is something called “sudden stratospheric warming.”
When it gets very warm over the North Pole, the polar vortex becomes wavy after about two weeks. This is what pumps cold air into the United States, and this is what happened at Christmas last year and early February this year.
It will likely snow in January, as I can see a couple of storms affecting us. After a short break, another date will come in February. There is a risk that the February storm will be more ice than snow, but only time will tell.
So, here’s a rundown of what you can expect:
- Temperatures: 0.2 degrees above normal
- Snowfall: 18.6”
- White Christmas: 14% chance
- Ice Storm: 36% chance
For those who live in the mountains, this winter could be much better with snowfall, which would be much better news for ski resorts, which suffered badly last year.
Now, it’s time to see what happens.