AccuWeather holding firm above-normal snowfall forecast

November 16, 2012|By Scott Dance, The Baltimore Sun

Despite recent indications from climate forecasters that El Nino is looking less likely for the winter, AccuWeather is holding firm predictions of above-normal snowfall for the Northeast because of a persistent weather pattern.

Severe weather forecaster Henry Margusity points to the repeated blocking patterns that could continue to dominate throught the winter. The patterns involve high pressure settled over the northern Atlantic and often produce storms like the nor'easter that dumped snow on areas recovering from Hurricane Sandy.

Margusity calls it a "wild weather pattern" so far this year that, if it continues, could produce a snowstorm on par with "Snowmageddon" in 2010. It is also expected to possibly bring a weaker nor'easter storm the week of Thanksgiving or the week after.

Foot's Forecast meteorologists are also eyeing the pattern and predicting it could be responsible for some major snow events for the East Coast.

Historical data for the Baltimore area could back up the forecast, or at least not contradict it.

Of the 10 snowiest winters in Baltimore since 1950, at least a weak El Nino has been present in half of them. But 40 percent have been neutral, with neither an El Nino nor a La Nina, the condition expected for this winter.

Some are already preparing for a snowy winter -- including the State Highway Administration. Citing indicators perhaps more linked to old wives' tales than science -- extra-woolly caterpillars and an abundance of acorns -- the SHA is inviting reporters to see how they are preparing for a busy season for road crews.

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake said Friday the city is ready for a snowy winter as well, with a $2.7 million budget for snow removal and 15,000 tons of salt. The city's base for winter storm information is

Here is a list of the snowiest winters as measured at BWI Marshall Airport since 1950, and whether it was an El Nino, La Nina or neutral year:

  1. 2009-2010 -- 77 inches -- El Nino
  2. 1995-1996 -- 62.5 inches -- La Nina
  3. 2002-2003 -- 58.1 inches -- El Nino
  4. 1963-1964 -- 51.8 inches -- El Nino
  5. 1960-1961 -- 46.5 -- neutral
  6. 1966-1967 -- 43.4 inches -- neutral
  7. 1957-1958 -- 43 inches -- El Nino
  8. 1978-1979 -- 42.5 inches -- neutral
  9. 1982-1983 -- 35.6 inches -- El Nino
  10. 1961-1962 -- 35.2 inches -- neutral

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