As Clarke County continues to shiver through a deep winter freeze that has gripped the area for several weeks, residents are bracing for another shot of mid-day snow for Thursday. Clarke County’s first dusting of snow on December 10 caught many drivers, and the National Weather Service, by surprise resulting in widespread traffic accidents across our area. Low ground temperatures and frozen road services will ensure that any snow that does fall on Thursday will not quickly melt.
Wait a minute, isn’t Virginia supposed to be part of “The South” where the winter weather is mild?
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center, our unseasonably cold temperatures are due, in part, to a moderately strong La NiÃ±a climate pattern that will be the dominant climate factor influencing weather across most of the U.S. this winter.
La NiÃ±a is associated with cooler than normal water temperatures in the Equatorial Pacific Ocean, unlike El NiÃ±o which is associated with warmer than normal water temperatures. Both of these climate phenomena, which typically occur every 2-5 years, influence weather patterns throughout the world and often lead to extreme weather events. Last winter’s El NiÃ±o contributed to record-breaking rain and snowfall leading to severe flooding in some parts of the country, with record heat and drought in other parts of the country. Although La NiÃ±a is the opposite of El NiÃ±o, it also has the potential to bring weather extremes to parts of the nation.
“La NiÃ±a is in place and will strengthen and persist through the winter months, giving us a better understanding of what to expect between December and February,” said Mike Halpert, deputy director of the Climate Prediction Center – a division of the National Weather Service. “This is a good time for people to review the outlook and begin preparing for what winter may have in store.”
If Clarke County’s weather over the last two weeks is any indication of what we can expect incoming months as suggested by meteorologist Halpert, then windy, dry and cold conditions may be in store.
Over the past month Clarke County has experienced not only brutal temperatures but strong gusty winds as well with wind chill readings in the teens. Farm ponds across the region already have a thin layer of ice on their surfaces. Ice is also beginning to collect on surface of the Shenandoah River.
Temperatures recorded near Mount Weather on Tuesday night were 11 degrees with winds gusting to 37 mph.
But while the “weather outside is frightful” Clarke residents will still delight in the coming holidays and find reasons to make the best of the bitter temps. What are your top ten reasons for enjoying the cold temperatures outside? Here’s ours…
CDN’s Top Ten Reasons for Enjoying the Cold Weather
Reason #1: Wood fires a’blazing!
Reason #2: Guilt-free indoor activities (it’s too cold to work outside)
Reason #3: Holiday baking simultaneously heats the house and warms the soul
Reason #4: Children avoid confusion of trying to figure out how to celebrate Christmas when it’s 70 degrees outside
Reason #5: No one laughs when you wear that Siberian hat that seemed like such a good buy at the Lands End outlet
Reason #6: Outdoor holiday wreathes stay green
Reason #7: The 2010 Redskins’s season is almost over!
Reason #8: 100-mile clear views from Bear’s Den Overlook
Reason #9: Crystal clear air makes the holiday lights along Main Street shine brightly and beautifully
Reason #10: Hot chocolate doesn’t cause weight gain if the temperature outside is below 25 degrees