(WVVA) Last winter has been called, "the winter that wasn't." Bluefield only picked up 20.5 inches of snow, while Beckley picked up 26 inches. These totals were below average, but we've had plenty of low snow total winters before.
In fact, Bluefield has experienced 10 winters with lower snow totals than last year since 1962.
In contrast, some of the snowiest winters on record have impacted Bluefield within the last 10 years. The 2009-10 season brought us 80.9 inches, the snowiest on record. The next year brought 62.7 inches, the 4th snowiest on record.
NOAA says snow forecasts are generally not predictable more than a week in advance because they depend on the strength and track of winter storms.
Also, winter seasons are like snowflakes, no two are alike. But there are signs that may give us some insight into our winter ahead.
First the El Niño Southern Oscillation is in the La Niña phase, and is expected to trend toward a weak La Niña over the winter months. For us, the cooler than normal waters of the eastern Pacific mean warmer than normal conditions with near normal precipitation.
But a La Niña phase isn't the only factor in our winter weather. Last year the jet stream was screaming into the Pacific northwest. We're not seeing that so far this year, leading to more snow cover compared to last year across Canada and the northern US. More snow cover helps reflect incoming sunlight, reducing warming, keeping arctic air cold as it moves south.
Here is the outlook for this winter.
Winter will get an early start in late November with below normal temperatures.
Overall December through March:
Colder and Snowier than last year.
Snowfall: Near Normal
Average Temperature: Normal to slightly above normal
We'll likely see rounds of cold air again this year, balanced out with warmer periods like we always do. A few big snowstorms will be possible again this year.
The average snowfall for Bluefield is 34.4 inches.
Stick with the WVVA Weather Team all winter as we track the next winter storm.