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Is Washington in for a Harsh Winter? | Weather

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Is Washington in for a Harsh Winter?

Washington, DC (WUSA 9) - Now that fall is here, Washingtonians start to ponder what the upcoming winter season will bring. Will the winter be significantly warmer than normal or colder and snowier than in recent years? Recent weather history - including a wrap up of this past summer - could serve as an indication as to what lies ahead this winter.

It was the coolest summer since 2009 - the last summer without any triple digit heat in the Nation's Capital. It got off to a very wet start with above average rainfall in June and July. In fact, June 2013 was the fourth wettest June on record with 9.97" of rain - more than 6" above normal. July was also wetter than average, but August and September were both drier than average. Since June and July were both such rainy months, the 2013 summer finished with nearly 3 inches more rain than normal.

The summer of 2009 was also an average summer without any significant heat waves, although, it wasn't as wet as this past summer. However, many will remember the winter that followed that benign summer as being one of the snowiest on record. The 2009-2010 winter season saw a total of 56.1" of snow at National Airport - an astounding 40.2" more than normal. By comparison, less than an inch fell the entire 2012-2013 winter season compared to a seasonal average of 15.4" for the Nation's Capital.

Unlike the benign 2009 summer that preceded the snowy winter season of 2009-2010 in the Mid-Atlantic, the 2012 summer was both extremely hot and dry. The 2012 summer saw a total of 8 days of triple digit heat and finished with nearly 2.5" inches below average rainfall. Snow lovers and winter enthusiasts may remember how the hot and dry summer of 2012 preceded the virtually snow-free winter of 2012-2013. Our 2013 summer was more like the 2009 summer without any triple digit heat. However, the 2013 summer in the Nation's Capital was much wetter than both the 2009 and 2012 summers.

There is no direct correlation between a hot and dry summer and a cold and snowy winter, but it is interesting to compare seasons and look for patterns. Some indicators that meteorologists look for in issuing their seasonal forecasts for the winter include the presence of El Nino/La Nina and the status of the North Atlantic Oscillation. These are ocean patterns that help guide the jet stream - or river of air in the upper atmosphere -which helps determine where storms form.

Presently, the outlook for the winter season is for near average temperatures and precipitation given the absence of El Nino or La Nina. The team of meteorologists at WUSA 9 will keep viewers apprised of the latest weather developments - both on air and online at wusa9.com.