The Brr is Back

Snowfall in Loudoun County, Virginia. Photo taken by Augusta Beekman.
Snowfall in Loudoun County, Virginia. Photo taken by Augusta Beekman.

Whether you are dreaming of a white Christmas, or days off from school, predictions for snow this winter time are high. After a humid fall, snow this winter would not be expected. Luckily El Niño, a climate cycle, is currently spreading along to the east coast from the pacific. El Niño is bringing in wetter conditions, with moisture coming in from the Gulf of Mexico due to the southern jet stream. When those wet conditions mix with cold air, snowfall occurs. This is a big difference in weather, since this past summer and autumn showed droughts and warm climates. 

La Niña on the other hand, creates drier and hotter conditions, which are the weather patterns experienced over the last few years. The last El Niño was in 2016, where we had 40 inches of snowfall throughout the duration of the climate cycle. This winter, snow is most likely to arrive in late December, just in time for holiday festivities. Bigger snowstorms, comparable to snowstorms dubbed ¨Snowzilla¨ or ¨Snowmageddon¨ are anticipated to arrive in late January to early February. This year’s El Niño started in late November, and has a good chance to stay til spring. This weather pattern in the 2023-2024 winter is also one of the three special, high strength El Niño events since 2002-2003. Other than snow, winter temperatures are expected to be above average, especially in late January to mid February.   

Loudoun County Public Schools have 15 snow days built into the school year. These snow days are planned into the school year, so days are not added to the end of June. Last year due to the lack of snow, LCPS schools had very few snow days. Whereas during the blizzard of 2016, there were approximately 9 days off from school. Online school during snowstorms, though considered, comes with many challenges. Power outages, traveling, and meal requirements would make online school during inclement weather far too difficult, according to LCPS. The superintendent who works with the Department of Transportation to decide when to delay school start times or have a closure due to the weather. Bus drivers help decide when roads will be too difficult to drive on, when ice or snow occurs. 

The Old Farmer’s Almanac, forecasters, meteorologists, and weather enthusiasts have all predicted cold weather all across the United States, and the most snow predicted in over five years for the D.C. area with the help of data and advanced technology. According to weather tracker and enthusiast Jays Wintry Mix there has been a 622 day snow drought in the Dulles area, but the streak is expected to end in late December. ¨The key to getting back on track will be El Niño, which will give us snowstorms and snow days off from school, which is what I think we all want¨, says Jay. While school off is not promised, keep your hopes high for an exciting cold and snowy climate this winter!

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