Large flakes fall on a snowy capital on December 8, 2013. (Ian Livingston via Flickr)

If you’re wondering what this winter holds for the Mid-Atlantic, you need not look further than last winter, though not as prolonged, says Accuweather in their winter weather outlook.

“Cold air will surge into the Northeast in late November, but the brunt of the season will hold off until January and February,” they write. “The polar vortex, the culprit responsible for several days of below-zero temperatures last year, will slip down into the region from time to time, delivering blasts of arctic air.”

While this forecast may send shivers down your spine, there’s really something for everyone in the outlook.

Despite the polar plunges, Accuweather forecaster Paul Pastelok says it might not be as bad as the brutal winter of 2013-14, which was as prolonged as it was cold and snowy. The polar vortex may rear its ugly head a few times, but not unseasonably late. “I think, primarily, we’ll see that happening in mid-January into February but again, it’s not going to be the same type of situation as we saw last year, not as persistent,” Pastelok said.

Digging into the wintry details for the D.C. area, Pastelok thinks this season is not going to push in on the Spring months as much as last year, but will probably be colder. “This winter will be around a degree colder on the three month average December through February,” Pastelok said. “March may turn around as far as temperatures this coming year, but a set back possible in April which can be cooler. January still looks like the top month for storms, coldest period mid January through February.”


Highlights of the Accuweather winter outlook. (Accuweather.com)

Of course, the question on everyone’s mind is what about the snow?

“Snowfall was over 30 inches last year,” Pastelok said. “We expect that amount to be nearly cut in half for Washington DC, higher amounts northwest of the District. Probably 15-20 [inches] for the District.” Though to the west of the I-95 corridor, Accuweather forecasts that snowfall amounts could be much higher than normal.

Elsewhere in the U.S., Accuweather is particularly concerned about the lingering warm sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico, which have not been cooled this year by a tropical cyclone. The warm Gulf water could provide extra fuel for winter storms in the south that could ride up the eastern seaboard.

In the Midwest, Accuweather forecasts winter temperatures to be seven to nine degrees warmer than last year, as well as below-normal snowfall totals. Specifically, they predict that both Chicago and Minneapolis will see below-average snowfall this winter.

Out West, Accuweather is suggesting that this winter’s snowfall will probably be enough to prevent the California drought from getting worse than it already is, but also says that after some December rain in northern California, the season will end up drier than normal.

In the Southwest, the potential for a weak El Nino could fuel higher than normal snowfall amounts. “That moisture source is needed to get above-normal snowfall for the region,” Pastelok said. “I do believe there are going to be periods where moisture gets in there.”