RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — As the leaves begin to change colors and temperatures across Virginia drop, the chances of snowfall inch ever closer for the commonwealth.
Predicting snowfall in Virginia is more difficult than it might be in other more northern states, according to 8News meteorologist John Bernier.
“In comparison to a state like Minnesota, for example,” Bernier said. “Minneapolis’ biggest snowstorm is pretty much on par with our biggest snowstorm for the total amount of snow … But, to put it in baseball terms, they have more ‘at-bats.’ They have more swings.”
Due to the lower occurrence of snow each year, predicting snowfall in Virginia is harder than in other areas. The Richmond Metro area, according to Bernier, has a much smaller pool of data to pull from when it comes to predicting when a snowfall could come.
The earliest snowfall in Richmond’s recorded history was on Oct. 10, 1979. This snowfall was the direct result of two separate cold air systems combining to create snowfall conditions. “Extreme circumstances,” according to Bernier.
While predicting Virginia’s snowfall may be difficult, the data does show a couple of notable trends. For one thing, there has been a decline in light dustings of snow. In recent years, the commonwealth has seen fewer light snowfalls but a steady amount of limited heavier snowfalls. There has also been a decrease in the commonwealth’s average snowfall.
“Our average snowfall is diminishing,” Bernier said. “If you go back to the 1960s, that was a decade of hellacious snowstorms. Our single biggest snowstorm was in 1940, but our snowiest winter was 1961-1962 when we got over three feet of snow. For us, snowfall is often feast-or-famine, and lately, famine seems to be coming a little more often.”