Winter is coming, and already the Rockies in Utah and Colorado are experiencing the first significant snowfall of the late fall season at elevations above 8,000 feet. Some areas will get between six and 16 inches of high mountain snow before it's over. But that's business as usual for the Rockies. It's areas like Chicago, New York, and Philadelphia where eyes are cast upon the winter forecast.
Last winter, the East Coast I-95 region was pounded with excessive snowfall as the jet stream pattern pumped cold air and moisture from the Appalachians northward throughout the winter. New York received 62 inches of snowfall last winter, including a great blizzard that dumped several feet at once and most residents including Mayor Michael Bloomberg would like to forget.
Average winter snowfall for New York is only 29 inches in comparison. But forecasts this year, according to AccuWeather, call for New York to get above average snowfall -- with 33 inches predicted. Thus, if the forecast is right, it will be a snowier than average winter for New York, America's largest city, but it won't be as bad as last year.
The La Nina pattern in place -- when sea surface temperatures across the equatorial center and eastern Pacific are below normal -- will bring plenty of stormy and cold air to New York, and the interior region of the U.S. East, but the brunt of this winter will likely be taken in the upper Midwest U.S., forecasters say, with Chicago getting the worst of it. Chicago averages 39 inches of snowfall, and last year Chicago got pelted with 57 inches of snow. This winter could be almost as bad, forecasters said, with 52 inches pegged for the city.
Other areas of the Midwest and Upper Midwest will see more of the same -- the worst of winter with persistent cold and snow likely.
The brunt of the winter season, especially when dealing with cold, will be over the north-central U.S., said Paul Pastelok, expert long-range meteorologist and leader of the AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team, in the AccuWeather forecast story.
AccuWeather expects a couple of heavy hitters in terms of big snowstorms for the northern Plains, the Midwest and Great Lakes regions this December and January with above average snowfall. As for the Northeast, winter shouldn't be extreme for Philadelphia, New York and Washington, D.C., but it won't be mild.
The worst news in the long-range forecast is perhaps for Texas, expected to be mild and dry -- which means the months-long persistent drought which has plagued the state will not likely be alleviated this winter from heavy moisture.