My Winter Outlook

There is nothing super amazing about this forecast! I have read MANY other outlooks (See the winter outlooks page here).

The major players in order!

  1. El Nino – If it fades, the end of winter should really be nice (for snow lovers)!
  2. PDO – This is a Pacific Decadal Oscillation and if it turns to help pump up the Pacific North Atlantic ridge (+PDO) then this will help with the winter to be colder! As of now I think it helps, but I do not know if it dominates. Why is it #2? Well, if it helps it could make it a much colder winter than I think and to me it is as just a wild card as the NAO I discusss next!
  3. NAO – North Atlantic Oscillation – A bit of a wild card every year, but almost tied with #2 for me and my thoughts for winter. A Negative NAO would mean a much better chance of storms coming north. This is the other wild card this winter. If it does go/stay negative we may be shoveling a LOT of snow!
  4. SAI – Snow Advance Index – Only a moderate pull for me as last year we were cold and snowy for other reasons than just the SAI – But I like it as a helper!
  5. Solar Cycle – a factor for sure in some way as it is at one of the lowest levels in years – NOT saying it is a huge player, but it is not hurting the thoughts of winter.
  6. QBO – Quasi-Biennial Oscillation – Nothing screaming a bad factor for me now

I could go on and on in my feelings on all of the above! You can read, probably what I think almost identically by reading Vencore’s outlook! They pretty much said what I would, so why rehash the excellent write up by them? You can see that discussion here or even listen to it here.

My breakdown:

December Above normal temperatures and precipitation

There is a chance that there could be a cold shot Mid month and that MAY mean mountains see a bit of snow, but the average would be warmer than normal.

January Temperatures near normal, precipitation above normal

ALL HINGES ON EL NINO WEAKENING – If it does we should see better chance of snow towards the end of the month. We could see our first real snow threats towards the end of the month (but this is peak time anyways)

FebruaryTemperatures slightly below normal, precipitation above normal

This is THE MONTH that most snow would fall and be the biggest reason for ABOVE NORMAL snow for the winter. I have an icy concern for the Piedmont of VA, but especially NC early for this month.

March – Temperatures slightly below normal, precipitation above normal

The last few years have had a big snow early in March so I am including it this year in my thoughts because I think an early month snow is possible with colder than normal temperatures. As a matter of fact, March may have a hard time shaking the wintry feel. El Nino winters tend to be backloaded winters! I think this year we see exactly that!

Overall – Temps will average about normal

Snowfall – Above normal, but mainly coming in February

BUST potentials:

SNOW TOO LOW – Could be that we get a few prolific systems with massive snow amounts, and I would say this is a risk for the PIEDMONT and MOUNTAINS of NC/ Sothern VA –

IT STAYS WARM  – El Nino’s this strong may be the dominant player for Winter. The National Weather Service is pretty much saying this will be the case. Current forecast DOES SHOW it weakening!

My confidence in the overall forecast is AVERAGE!

Snow Chances



I tried to give enough points for you to get a general idea of your area. I went above normal – Even when we get snow, especially places east of the Piedmont, I expect it melt fast and not stay on the ground. ‘

To check your average –

Snow totals: (within 2 inches)


  • Winchester – 33″
  • Front Royal – 35″
  • Shenendoah- 45″
  • Bath – 45″
  • Leesburg – 25″
  • Sterling – 24″
  • Purcellville – 27″
  • Charlottesville – 29″
  • Harrisonburg – 29″
  • Roanoke – 27″
  • Wytheville – 24″
  • Bluefield – 33″
  • Lynchburg – 18″
  • Richmond – 17″
  • Fredericksburg – 19″
  • Stafford – 19″
  • Spotsylvania – 14″
  • Farmville – 13″
  • Lunenburg – 12″
  • Emporia – 7″
  • Norfolk – 6″
  • Surry – 7″
  • New Kent – 8″
  • Warsaw – 9″
  • Montross – 6″
  • Yorktown – 4″
  • Eastern Shore – 3″

North Carolina

  • Asheville – 17″
  • Franklin – 12″
  • Sparta – 14″
  • Winston-Salem – 11″
  • Charlotte – 7″
  • Lexington – 8″
  • Greensboro -8″
  • Chatham – 7″
  • Fayettville – 2″ (Some Icing concerns in February)
  • Raleigh – 4″
  • Halifax – 3″
  • Winston – 6″
  • Rest of SE NC – 0-2″ (Kind of broad brushing this – Most coastal areas see a trace, areas middle of state up to 2″ possible


  • Garrett County – 90 – 200″ (Depends on exact location and elevation)
  • Frederick – 36″
  • Westminster – 41″
  • Rockville – 27″
  • Bel Air – 40″
  • Baltimore – 33″
  • Ann Arundel – 12 – 25″ (Away from water gets a lot more)
  • Elkton – 34″
  • Queen Anne – 12-17″ (Expecting a Nor’easter to bolster this!)
  • Salisbury – 6″
  • Snow Hill – 4″


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