Jan 31, 2023 - News

D.C. snow drought approaches record-breaking levels

Illustration of a caution sign with a snowflake instead of a circle in the exclamation point.

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

D.C. is in a snow drought, but there's a slim chance we might see some flakes soon.

What’s happening: The Washington area is close to breaking the record for going the longest without snow, per National Weather Service data going back to 1874.

By the numbers: There have been only two seasons of 0.1 inches of snowfall for the Washington, D.C., area — the winters of 1997-1998 and 1972-1973.

  • So far, we have not recorded any measurable snowfall. (If you want to get technical, NWS recorded a “trace” of snow for all of December!)

Driving the news: There is a chance for snow late Tuesday night into early Wednesday, according to the NWS.

  • But even as lows drop to 30 degrees this evening, the chance for “meaningful snowfall seems low,” the Capital Weather Gang reports.

The big picture: This has been a miserable winter so far for snow lovers in the DMV, with storm after storm tracking west of the region, dragging mild air northward and keeping precipitation in the form of rain, Axios climate reporter Andrew Freedman tells us.

  • When we've had cold air, storms have not come together in the right locations to deliver a Mid-Atlantic snowstorm. This unusually mild and relatively tranquil weather pattern, which is partly tied to a La Niña event in the tropical Pacific and air pressure oscillations across the North Atlantic, may not change much in February, either.

Zoom in: With an average temperature of 45.1 degrees, this has been D.C.'s third-warmest recorded January. Only 1950 and 1932 have seen warmer Januarys.

  • The warmth led some cherry blossom trees to come alive, although temperatures in February and March will better determine peak bloom dates, WTOP reports.
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