NCR: Outlook for 2018-2019 Winter Season

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

Higher than average precipitation and moderately higher temperatures will occur during the 2018-2019 winter season due to the projected El Niño weather pattern developing in the Pacific Ocean. Historic data depicts a correlation between the strength of an El Niño episode and seasonal temperatures, precipitation, and snowfall in the National Capital Region. Jurisdictions remain vigilant to ensure resident and infrastructure protection.


The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reports a 70% chance for an El Niño winter season—a climate phenomenon characterized by unusually warm ocean temperatures in the central and eastern tropical Pacific Ocean—increasing precipitation and warmer temperatures across the United States. The 2018-2019 El Niño winter season pattern is expected to be weak—diminishing warming impacts during the winter weather season.


The 2018-2019 winter season is anticipated to bring warmer than average temperatures; most of the country, with the exception of the Southeast, will experience warmer temperatures compared to the 2017-2018 winter season. The National Capital Region is likely to experience similar weather, with a chance of slightly warmer weather than was seen in the previous winter season.


Across the Country, above average precipitation is anticipated with below average snowfall; the National Weather Service reports early December, late January, and mid-February will accumulate the most snowfall during the winter season. The National Capital Region will experience more precipitation in the 2018-2019 winter season than the 2017-2018 winter season.


According to the National Weather Service, winter weather in the National Capital Region varies, with the lowest recorded snowfall measuring 0.1 inches—in DC during the 1972-1973 and 1997-1998 snow seasons—and peak snowfall measuring 77.0 inches—in Baltimore during the 2009-2010 snow season. Last snow season, the Region accumulated an average of 11.7 inches of snow; maximum snowfall occurred in March with an average of 5.6 inches.


The Region ensures preparedness regardless of forecasted weather conditions— updating winter weather plans to ensure rapid response, coordinating across agencies to anticipate resource needs for the upcoming snow season, and preparing residents for winter conditions through media outreach and public messaging


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