February 27, 2024

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Winter weather: Tracking snowfall trends in the DC region

3 min read

Accumulating snowfall has been hard to come by in the nation’s capital during recent winters.

WASHINGTON — As winter weather enthusiasts know, appreciable snowfall has been hard to come by in the nearly eight years since the record-setting “Blizzard of 2016.” There have been only four snowier-than-average months in the nation’s capital since then, with the most recent in January 2022.

Before Monday’s snow, only 0.1 inches of snow has fallen in D.C. so far this winter. It’s also been nearly two years since the last time at least an inch of snow occurred (on January 16, 2022, we saw 2.6 inches).

While this winter has been significantly wetter than average thus far, it has also been significantly warmer than average. 

December 2023 finished tied for D.C.’s fifth warmest on record and was also the fourth wettest. Meanwhile, this month has already produced D.C.’s wettest January day in almost 100 years with 2.24″ of rain on January 9.

RELATED: Tuesday’s storm set rainfall records in the DMV

Many of DC’s winters during strong El Nino years have had warmer- and wetter-than-average starts to the winter season, such as this season. That was also the case during the 2015-2016 winter. 

Following D.C.’s warmest December on record in 2015, D.C. didn’t see its first accumulating snowfall until January 17. That was followed less than a week later by D.C.’s record-setting Blizzard of 2016.

Snow can only occur under ideal circumstances when there is sufficiently cold air from the base of the cloud when the snowflake falls all the way to the ground. If temperatures in the column of air between the cloud and the ground are above freezing but below freezing just above the surface, then the snowflake will melt and refreeze into sleet pellets before reaching the ground. If the column of air is above freezing and the surface/ground temperature is below freezing, then freezing rain will occur.

My colleagues and I on the WUSA9 weather team are watching several chances of snow during the upcoming week.

RELATED: We’re set to experience DC’s coldest January weather in 2 years

RELATED: Safety tips for your pets during the cold weather

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2024-01-15 19:51:03

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