Weather forecasts sum up the approaching winter season in Maryland in one word: soggy.
AccuWeather.com has issued its 2015-16 winter forecast, which predicts mild weather in the Mid-Atlantic region because of an intensifying El Niño affect.
The season is expected to be milder overall, but particularly through December, the service says. Residents in the Mid-Atlantic states can expect fewer days of subzero temperatures than last year. February of 2015 went down in the record books as the second-coldest February on record for the region.
Meteorologists and weather forecasters largely agree that a strong El Niño pattern typically brings above-normal temperatures and more storms during the winter.
“It typically brings very stormy weather across the country, more storms,” Luis Rosa, meteorologist at the Sterling, VA, office of the National Weather Service, told Patch previously. “That means probably a lot of storms for the Southeast and Eastern United States. But it depends on temperatures and other factors.”
The National Weather Service in late August issued an advisory giving a 90 percent chance that El Niño — a weather pattern that begins with warming waters in the Pacific Ocean and carries with it the threat of severe weather and natural disasters — continues into the winter. Scientists put an 85 percent chance of it continuing into next spring.
One National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration blog jokingly referred to it as the “Bruce Lee” El Niño, and a NASA scientist took that a step further saying it has “Godzilla” potential.
The winter forecast from the National Weather Service released Sept. 17 for January through March predicts El Nino will offer equal chances for above normal temperatures in the Mid-Atlantic. But, the weather service agrees with AccuWeather’s call for increased precipitation during those months.
Forecasts don’t specify if the increased precipitation will fall as rain or snow in Maryland.
A similarly strong El Nino pattern in the winter of 1982-83 left the region with only a few storms, but one of those dumped 36 inches of snow in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
“It only takes one big one,” Rosa told Patch.
The National Weather Service look back at past El Nino winters in the Mid-Atlantic says of the six strong El Nino winters since 1950, three saw heavy snowfall, while three winters had virtually no snow.