Mike's 17th Annual Winter Outlook

By Mike Goldberg, Meteorologist

A little late, but some thoughts on how the winter will play out…

*** WINTER OUTLOOK 2017-2018 ***

DECEMBER (Average highs go from 55°F to 48°F, average lows from 35°F to 29°F)

Average Temp:       41.0°F
Forecast:                 40.2°F

Temperatures:  Slightly below average (0°F to -2°F)

Precipitation:  Below average

Our average snow in December (not a forecast):       2.1”

Highlights:  A slightly colder than normal and pretty dry month. The cold spells that have taken over our weather pattern stick around at least through the first of the year.

JANUARY (Average highs in the mid to upper 40s, average lows in the upper 20s)

Average Temp:       37.9°F
Forecast:                 39.3°F

Temperatures:  Slightly above average (0°F to +2°F)

Precipitation:  Near average

Our average snow in January (not a forecast):       3.9”

Highlights: The cold eases and the pattern flips, with much milder air particularly during the second half of the month.  We’ll probably see an uptick in storm frequency, and potentially some winter weather…although any potential events will likely see a change to rain.   

FEBRUARY (Average highs go from 49°F to 55°F, average lows from 29°F to 33°F)

Average Temp:       40.9°F
Forecast:                 40.7°F

Temperatures:  Near average (-1°F to +1°F)

Precipitation:  Near average

Our average snow in February (not a forecast):       3.4”

Highlights:  Some colder weather returns and we maintain a somewhat active storm track, leading to multiple events.  Any winter weather chances will as always depend on whether any cold air is around when the storms impact the Mid-Atlantic.

OVERALL (December/January/February combined)

Temperatures:  Slightly above average (The winter starts out cold, but mild spells will eventually balance us on the plus side during the 3-month period)   

Precipitation:  Near to slightly below average

SNOWFALL (yes, a forecast!)

The National Weather Service recently issued new 30-year climatic averages, incorporating the years of 1981-2010.  The new snowfall “average” for Richmond is 10.3” inches, down a bit due to recent lean years.  Predicting the amount of snow over the course of the entire winter is not easy.  It’s an educated guess, based on the overall weather patterns that we expect.  It’s important to remember that getting snow in central Virginia depends on all the ingredients coming together at the right time.  If the cold air is in place but a storm isn't here, then it's a no-go.  On the other hand, one big storm can give us our entire annual average in one day!

So here it is:  More often than not, in comparable years to this (with a relatively weak La Nina), we’ve had below normal snowfall.  However, there are other factors under consideration and with colder than average conditions expected, there’s always a chance we’ll see more of the white stuff.  We always have to remember that one storm can give us most of our seasonal snowfall in Richmond (all of central and eastern Virginia included).  I think this may very well be one of those i years where we have numerous smaller snow/ice events, so we may still end up with a near average year.  My best “guess” this year for Richmond is 12 inches!

That’s all I’ve got for now…enjoy the season and be safe!



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Meteorologist, Musician, Classical Music Host