February 1899 snow

The Great Arctic Outbreak of 1899 started with a foot of snow on Feb. 5 and struck again with 21 inches on Valentine's Day. The season's tally came to 51 inches, a record that lasted until 1996's 62.5 inches. (Baltimore Sun file photo / November 30, 2012)

Meteorological winter begins Saturday (Dec. 1), and though it is expected to be a mild start to the season, snow may not be far behind. How snowy could it be?

Your guess is as good as anyone else's. Share your guesses with the Maryland Weather blog in the comments, by e-mail or via Twitter, or even via snail mail at 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, MD, 21278.

Make your guess by next Friday (Dec. 7), down to the inch or tenth of an inch -- the closest without going over wins.

The contest, as in past years, is mostly for bragging rights, but the winner could also get some Baltimore Sun swag for their meteorologic omniscience.

Before the season has even begun, there has already been a back-and-forth over what we could expect. Early in the fall season, forecasters predicted a snowy season was ahead. Then predictions of an El Nino faltered, making the snowy forecast less promising.

The Northeast has already had at least two major brushes with snow, but warmth south of the Mason-Dixon line has prevented anything but flurries in Maryland. But some forecasters say the blocking patterns that have influenced storms over the past couple of months could be a sign of more chances for snow ahead.

Regardless, it won't take much to beat last year's total of 1.8 inches measured at BWI Marshall Airport. 

In an average winter, as measured at BWI, there are 3 inches of snow in December, nearly 7 in December, 8 in January and 2 in March, for a total of about 20 inches, according to the National Weather Service. It has been years since an "average" winter here, though.

Here is the snowfall from the past decade, for reference:
  • 2011-2012: 1.8 inches
  • 2010-2011: 14.4 inches
  • 2009-2010: 77 inches
  • 2008-2009: 9.1 inches
  • 2007-2008: 8.5 inches
  • 2006-2007: 11 inches
  • 2005-2006: 19.6 inches
  • 2004-2005: 18 inches
  • 2003-2004: 18.3 inches
  • 2002-2003: 58.1 inches
Have a weather question? E-mail me at sdance@baltsun.com or tweet to @MdWeather.