The Scoop on Snow and Possible White Christmas

October 29, 2018

I’m sure many of you have noticed that it has been getting very cold outside. It isn’t that cold, but compared to how hot it has been, it is freezing! Just yesterday, I was walking around in several layers and I was still cold. The most important factors for snow and for snow to stick are temperature and weather pattern. Just recently, Maryland got its first snowfall of the year in Western Maryland! This was a result of elevation and the frequent precipitation that we have been receiving. This morning when I left for school, I got my first taste of winter. The nostalgic sound of my dad running the windshield wipers over the windshield glazed with ice came before me in the loud grinding sound. Believe it or not, I shivered the whole way to school for the first time this year. Could this mean snow is near?

Although it feels cold enough for it to snow, it is not even cold enough for my heat to kick on. The average temperature this week was about 50 degrees F with the low being around 40 degrees F. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center, for snow to fall the temperature must be at most 32 degrees F. However the ground temperature must also be below freezing for the snow to stick. It seems that most of our snow does not stick because the ground is too warm, which is presumably because our summers are so hot. It is never too cold to snow! All snow needs is freezing temperatures and some moisture in the air. Hopefully, this winter it will always be cold enough for a nice long snow day.

According to a Washington Post article about an upcoming El Nino, this year’s winter will be warmer than normal. Wait so what exactly is an El Nino? An El Nino is an irregular weather pattern formed over warm water that leads to wetter than normal conditions. They usually form during December. It’s counterpart, La Nina, forms over cool water that leads to more dry and warmer conditions. El Ninos don’t always mean snow, but the “snowpocalipse” in 2016 formed because of one. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Maryland will receive about a 40% more wet winter (see the map below)

and the temperature will be average. Although it is not likely we will receive another huge snow like in 2016, the chances are increased.

It actually snows in Maryland more than you would expect. According a report by the National Weather Service and the NOAA, Maryland, on average, receives around 20 inches of snow a year. If I had to take a guess on how much snow we receive, I would say somewhere around 10 inches. This is because it includes all snow fall, not just the thick layers of fluffy snow that lays on the ground for days. The report, which goes all the way back to the 1880’s, shows that the most snow heavy months are January and February. Maryland seems to be due for a huge snow because the last snowfall record over 35 inches was all the way back in 2010 (77 inches!!!). Hopefully this winter we will be able to beat that with the highest snowfall on the entire report (78+ inches). So far, 2018 has been an interesting year, but imagine if the 2018-2019 school year ended with 80 total inches of snow!

Lastly, according to the Accuweather long term weather, our first winter precipitation will be on December 7th and again on Christmas! Although we won’t get any snow days for Christmas snow, it would be perfect to get the perfect dusting of fluffy white snow just in time for the most wonderful time of the year! More information to come about snow rituals to ensure that it snows on Christmas.

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