Above average snowfall expected for DC area this winter

After disappointing snowfall last year, D.C. area residents should have their shovels handy.

Veronica Johnson, chief meteorologist for 7News First Alert Weather, told WTOP that the First Alert Weather team is predicting 17 to 22 inches of snow for the D.C. metro area this coming winter. She said the average snowfall for D.C. is 13.6 inches.

In fact, counties farther north and west, including Loudoun County, Virginia, and Frederick County, Maryland, could see as much as 30 inches of snow throughout this winter.

A graphic displays the 2023-2024 Snowfall Forecast for the Washington D.C. area, with 7News First Alert Weather's ABC7 logo in the upper right hand corner. From the upper left to the lower right corner, colored bands denote the various predicted snow fall totals. A white 36"+ hovers above a dark pink color covering northern Maryland and Western Virginia. At a diagonal across part of Cumberland, Maryland, a lighter pink denotes 30-35" snow estimates. While the Shenandoah Valley boasts a hot pink estimate of 30+", a bold, ,royal blue surrounds the area with a 22-30" mark. A more muted blue covers the D.C.-Metro area up to Gaithersburg, Maryland, and further south than Fredericksburg, Virginia, with a white 17-22" hovering above the region. The remaining southeastern most portion of the map is baby blue with 10-15"+ marked just above the Potomac River waterway.
7News First Alert Weather is predicting a much higher winter snowfall for this season. (Courtesy Veronica Johnson/7News)

As for Christmas?

“I don’t think we can expect a White Christmas,” Johnson said. “But I’m not going to rule out a few snowflakes that may come mixing in.”

Johnson said that starting in late December or early January, you can expect a lot of minor storm systems.


JANUARY 2024 2-4″ SNOW
FEBRUARY 2024 12-15″ SNOW
MARCH 2024 2-3″ SNOW

“We really have to watch these events producing less in the way of snowfall and more [of a] wintry mix and more icy mix,” she said.

How many snow days will local students get this winter?

Johnson tells WTOP the biggest storms are predicted for February and there’s the possibility the area could see one or two nor’easters.

“There’s no bigger weight that is put into this forecast for this winter season than El Niño. And right now, it’s looking like we’re going to have not just an El Niño here, but a strong El Niño that is going to continue into early spring,” Johnson said.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, El Niño is a climate pattern in the Pacific Ocean that impacts weather conditions around the world.

Johnson explained this will be the first winter El Niño in four years and the first strong El Niño in seven years.

Recent Reagan National Airport (DCA) Snowfall Totals

Winter Season*
Total Snow
El Niño/La Niña
2022-2023 0.4″ La Niña
2021-2022 13.1″ La Niña
2020-2021 5.4″ La Niña
2019-2020 0.6
2018-2019 15.5″ El Niño

*A winter season is defined as the months of December, January and February, but snowfalls can extend into March.

Johnson said temperatures this winter season are expected to be slightly above average, with the most potent cold bursts happening in February.

She said forecasting winter weather is becoming more difficult because of climate change. In general, cold snaps are shrinking, which means less snowfall.

While a stronger El Niño episode doesn’t guarantee more snow, stronger El Niño episodes have brought warmer average temperatures and high precipitation in the D.C./Baltimore area, according to NOAA.

Shayna Estulin

Shayna Estulin is an anchor/reporter for WTOP. She started her career in New York City as a local TV reporter and has since covered foreign affairs and national politics as a Washington correspondent. She also anchored a nightly news show for an international network.

Federal News Network Logo
Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up