Wednesday, February 20, 2013

The Washington Area Snow Drought

The official reporting station for Washington (DCA) has not recorded a 2-inch or larger snowfall in several years now. Will the streak be broken this winter, or will DC snow lovers have to wait until next winter for another shot?


The last substantial winter storm to impact the Washington Metro area occurred on January 26, 2011. This was the infamous Commutageddon storm that stranded motorists during the evening rush hour that day. Approximately 5 inches of snow fell on the city during that storm, with significantly higher amounts in the suburbs in some cases.

Heavy snow accumulation during the January 26, 2011 storm.
With March fast approaching, many snow lovers in the area have been left to wonder if we will see another winter season end without a 2-inch or larger snowstorm. As it stands right now, various computer models are suggesting that a better pattern for snowfall may evolve as we head into the late February and early March period. However, given that every storm this winter so far has found a way to not come through for DC, the odds are likely against a big snowfall at this time.

It seems that the pattern of having systems that are either too warm, or contain too little precipitation will continue for now. There are several weather systems being depicted on the weather models at this time. That being said, the systems that are projected to impact the metro area are shown to not be favorable for a substantial snowfall (or any snowfall at all for that matter. Even so, weather is a constantly changing/shifting thing and the models might shift accordingly as we head into March. Still, March is a transition month where snow becomes less likely quite fast. If one were basing a prediction off of the historical records, DC has about until the middle of March to cash in.

The blue line indicates the 850mb freezing line. Note that it is well north of the area.
At this point in time, all that can be said is that the pattern may improve for a CHANCE of breaking the 2 inch snowfall streak. However, we are at a period when we are battling rising sun angles and warming average temperatures. The average low is above freezing at DCA now! Spring is heading into the area...we'll see if old man winter can get in one last blow.

Kenny Lorber is the creator of The Capital Region Pulse. He has had a strong interest in the weather and climate since he was a young child. To send in comments, questions or suggestions, send an email to 

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