Following a snow “drought” this past winter, the mid-Atlantic and southern New England are expected to get a snow dump this winter, including the metropolitan Washington area.
AccuWeather.com is predicting big storms during January and February with the potential for large snowstorms to create travel headaches in the major cities.
"The I-95 cities could get hit pretty good,” AccuWeather.com lead long-range forecaster Paul Pastelok said in a statement. “It's a matter of getting the cold to phase in with the huge systems that we are going to see coming out of the southern branch of the jet stream this year."
The normal snowfall amount for the Washington metropolitan area is 14.6 inches. Snowfall amounts in Northern Virginia have been erratic over recent winters.
In the winter of 2009-10, the National Weather Service recorded 73.2 inches of snowfall in Dulles, said weather service observing program leader Calvin Meadows. The following winter, snowfall in the area dropped to 12.6 inches, Meadows said.
This past winter, in 2011-12, only 3.7 inches of snow were recorded at Dulles, he said.
AccuWeather.com meteorologists are projecting a weak to moderate El Niño, which is classified by above-normal water temperatures in the central and equatorial Pacific Ocean, by the fall. Warming the ocean water then warms the air above the Pacific, causing weather patterns to change globally.
According to AccuWeather.com, El Niño winters feature a strong southern branch of the jet stream across the country. When the southern jet stream phases with the northern branch of the jet stream, big storms can impact the East Coast.