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Central Virginia winter weather projections with John Bernier

WRIC Richmond logo WRIC Richmond 11/24/2022 John Bernier
Central Virginia winter weather projections with John Bernier © Provided by WRIC Richmond Central Virginia winter weather projections with John Bernier

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — It is time now for my 39th annual Winter Outlook for Central Virginia.

Secretly stashed away for days — had to remember where I hid it from everyone — it is time to reveal how I predict the winter will evolve for us.

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We will stay away from the huge technical talk that you see all over the interwebs and concentrate on the big factors for you.

First up, this is our third, that's right third consecutive winter with the cool La Niña ocean current off the west coast of Peru.  The adage from World War I was that "three on a match" meant bad luck — and that is probably the case this year for snow lovers.

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In a year like this — and similar to the past two — the Jet Stream has its major dip into the nation's midsection. That does not bode well for snow in the area, in fact, ice can loom as a problem like what we saw in 2021.

If the timing is right, we do have a chance of snow. It is just that the chances will be limited.

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Unlike the last two years, when we saw an "extended fall" and had significant warmth in November and December, we have seen an early cold spell this year. This is reminiscent of 1988 and 1989 when winter was front-loaded and essentially over by New Year’s Day. Our friends in Buffalo got a whole lot of this front-loaded chill with the 80 inches of snow last weekend!

When you look at weather patterns, they often run in a 6-10 week cycle. If that holds true, we are in for a reversal sometime around the beginning of next year. That would turn nature's furnace on for us.  On the back end, it could lead to a brisk start to Spring in March.

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Now, I will warn you, that there is a wildcard in all of this. That massive volcanic eruption in Tonga earlier this year? Well, it tossed moisture up into the Stratosphere — some of which has made it into the Northern Hemisphere. That moisture has the potential to make things a little wacky up there, which in turn could make things unpredictable — perhaps even causing a polar vortex like eight years ago.

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Well, the bottom line on it all looks like this:

  • Temperatures average out to be 0.4°F above normal — and yes, it will be cold at times.
  • Snow will range from 7.5 inches to 9 inches, but we need at least one decent storm!
  • Since December could be cool for a while, we have about a 13% chance of a “White Christmas.”
  • I am worried about severe weather outbreaks starting in February.

We'll just have to wait and see how it all plays out.

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