Storms of the past can serve as a guide to the future. And we review the high altitude weather pattern forecast for the Friday-Sunday blizzard, it resembles several of D.C.’s most severe snowstorms on record.
Saint Louis University has developed what’s known as an analog tool, which digests the computer model forecasts for future storms and identifies historic storms which share their characteristics.
If we include only the analogs from moderate to strong El Nino years, like the current one, the top four matches were all megastorms, as illustrated in the image above. They are:
- Snowmageddon of February 2010, which dumped 17.8 inches
- The Blizzard of February 1983, which dumped 16.6 inches
- Snowpocalyspe of December 2009, which dumped 16.4 inches
- The Blizzard of February 2003, which dumped 16.7 inches
Another one of the analogs is the Blizzard of January 1996, which unloaded 17.1 inches, but occurred during a La Nina year.
Let’s just say this storm shares pedigree with the blockbusters, assuming the models have its characteristics pegged.
Taking the average of the top 15 analogs, the snowfall this particular pattern would produce is in the range of 12 to 18 inches (see top image), which is very close to forecasts.