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Snow dump predicted for D.C. winter

Friday - 8/17/2012, 8:54am  ET

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It may seem light years away, but some see a very white winter for the District. (AP)

John Aaron, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - With persistent heat bearing down on the D.C. area this summer, the last thing on anyone's mind is a snowstorm.

But that's what one weather service says to watch out for this winter.

AccuWeather is predicting above-average snowfall for the Mid-Atlantic this winter, saying a dump could occur if the right conditions collide.

"The I-95 cities could get hit pretty good," says AccuWeather.com Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok.

The District's normal seasonal snowfall amount is 14.6 inches, AccuWeather says, citing the National Weather Service. AccuWeather says the potential for a white winter stems in part from the phenomenon known as El Niño.

"It's the warming of the sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific," ABC7 meteorologist Chris Naille says of the El Niño weather pattern. "It's one of the key ingredients that we use to forecast for winter."

Other factors, though, like the amount of cold air pushing into the region, are also necessary for severe winter weather.

"We can look back at our records and say, 'Well, when these things come together, it tends to yield significant snowfall,'" Naille says. But he warns an exact picture of the entire situation won't be clear until November.

AccuWeather, meanwhile, says the potential is there for large snowstorms in January and February.

While that could mean frustration for area residents dealing with slippery roads and power outages, it also could be a boon to the ski industry after last year's mild winter.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)