The Washington Post

AccuWeather forecast déjà vu: above normal snowfall for D.C. and Baltimore this winter

AccuWeather’s winter outlook issued in August as well as today favors above normal snow along the I-95 corridor in the East with below average snow in Chicago and Minneapolis (

“Above-normal snowfall is predicted for the Northeast, mid-Atlantic and central and southern Appalachians, spanning western Massachusetts to northern portions of Georgia and Alabama, this winter,” says version 2.0 of AccuWeather’s winter outlook released today.

In Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, normal winter snowfall is 15.4 inches and 20.1 inches, respectively.

Recognizing it takes just one big storm to bring seasonal totals close to normal, AccuWeather doesn’t specify how much “above-normal” it expects snowfall to be. But it favors the highest potential for snowstorms in the New Year (2013) .

“The best chance for the big snowstorms will arrive during the middle to latter part of the season, including January and February” it writes.

In winter outlook version 1.0, AccuWeather mentioned El Niño and the associated strong southern jet stream as the main factors supporting high snow amounts. But version 2.0 has no reference to El Niño, the weather pattern characterized by warm ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific that can feed storms in the southern U.S.

As it turns out, El Niño has not yet developed, and while it’s still expected to form, experts believe it may be feeble and fleeting.

“....after seeing signals for months that a moderate Niño might be arriving right about now, the more likely case appears to be an episode that is weak indeed: probably short, and hardly nasty or brutish,” the New York Times reports.

AccuWeather meteorologist Mark Paquette says AccuWeather’s updated outlook takes into account the muted El Niño outlook.

“We don’t think El Niño will be as a big a factor,” Paquette said.

Nevertheless, Paquette and company still think a strong southern jet stream - characteristic of El Niño - will carry moisture-laden storms into the region. Moreover, he says, such a pattern is already developing.

“The last couple of systems have really been a harbinger of what we expect this coming season,” Paquette said. “You often see winter tips it cards this time of year.”

But Capital Weather Gang’s winter weather expert Wes Junker isn’t convinced the current weather pattern means anything.

“It’s way too early to say the fall pattern of the subtropical jet means that we’ll have a subtropical jet in winter,” Junker said.

CWG’s Matt Rogers, who specializes in long-range prediction, agrees with Junker.

“I wish it were that easy to apply an October pattern to winter,” Rogers said. “I’ve never gotten that to work.”

CWG will release its winter outlook around Halloween.

Jason is the Washington Post’s weather editor and Capital Weather Gang's chief meteorologist. He earned a master's degree in atmospheric science, and spent 10 years as a climate change science analyst for the U.S. government. He holds the Digital Seal of Approval from the National Weather Association.


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