– By Andrea Gaines
Local forecasters predict some chilly weather for the mid-Atlantic this winter, combined with equal chances of having either a normal amount of moisture or a little more moisture than normal, particularly as you move west of the I-95 corridor. The coldest weather for us is likely to occur in the next few weeks. Translation: we could be in for a snowy January, but no predictions for a whopping storm. At least not yet.
Weather experts don’t see a strong El Nino or La Nina effect, meaning, they don’t see the unusually warm (El Nino) or cooler (La Nina) ocean temperatures that can affect our local possibilities for snow.
But, the cold is there, along with the chance that some powerful Arctic air blasts could break through from time to time. So, are we headed for a snowy winter, or not? Well … we don’t really know.
Native Virginians Thomas Jefferson and George Washington both made notes in their diaries about the historic snowstorm of Jan. 28, 1772, when some three feet of snow fell. Jan. 16, 1857 saw another big one and the rumors flew, with some on the Chesapeake Bay saying that you could walk 100 yards out on the now frozen Atlantic Ocean. And, on Jan. 28, 1922, 150 years to-the-day of the Jefferson/Washington storm, Washington, DC was buried in 28 inches of snow.
Looking to more recent times, Loudoun’s Blizzard of 1996 graced the county with three feet of snow in three different storms – from Jan. 7 to Jan. 13.
We endured what was affectionately referred to as “Snowmagedden” in early February 2010, with as much as 30 to 36 inches coming down, and another storm about a week later that left another foot or so on the ground.
And, 2016’s Snowstorm Jonas put Northern Virginia and our very own Village of Philomont in the record books. Philomont saw over three feet of snow – leading the state with 39 inches. Ashburn got 36 inches. Leesburg, 34, Purcellville, 33, Middleburg, 32 and the ever-exact Dulles Airport, 29.3.
While temperatures are predicted to be a bit cooler this winter than last winter, which was slightly warmer than normal, seasonal averages will hold for the winter of 2017 to 2018. Experts predict that the average low temperatures for our area in January will be in the 20s, the average high temperatures will be in the 30s.
The Old Farmer’s Almanac predicts that the winter of 2017-2018 will be colder than last winter. It also predicts more snow. Watch out, it says, for a “wintry chill,” and a “wet and white” season.
You have no doubt heard the expression that “no two snowflakes are the same.” Well, it’s true. And, not only are they individual in nature – like a fingerprint – they come in different forms and shapes, depending on the temperature and humidity in the area of the atmosphere in which they are formed and travel down to earth.
Basic snowflake forms include dendrite, plate and column, but within these categories are dozens of individual varieties. The larger – and more symmetrical – dendrite flakes stack up quickly when they hit the ground, producing greater accumulations than, say, smaller and less complex plate and column types.