Another Nasty Winter for Atlanta?

October 10, 2011; 6:15 AM ET
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Broad Street stands covered with ice and snow in downtown Atlanta Tuesday, Jan. 11, 2011. A winter storm left many parts of Georgia crippled for a second day Tuesday, stranding Greyhound bus passengers in Atlanta without food and closing down government offices and school districts as roads remained coated in snow and ice. (AP Photo/David Goldman)

From an extremely rare white Christmas to an immobilizing snowstorm in January to one of the coldest Decembers on record, last winter was extreme for Atlanta, to say the least.

This winter, the Long-Range Forecasting Team does expect some similarities to last winter for Atlanta with a chilly start to the season along with the possibility for a couple of snow or ice events.

The good news, however, is that this winter is not expected to be nearly as extreme in terms of cold.

"This winter in Atlanta, it may be chilly to start, but nothing extraordinary," said Expert Long-Range Meteorologist Bob Smerbeck. "There will be cold shots in the early part of the season, but they won't be as nasty or long-lasting as they were last year."

After the bitterly cold start to winter last year, the season turned out milder for Atlanta by February. A shift to milder weather later in the season is predicted again for this winter, only it will be even more noticeable.

The problem that may arise later in the season, however, is severe weather events. A significant threat for severe weather is expected to develop in February from Mississippi into Alabama and Tennessee. Atlanta could be right on the outer fringe of the core of this activity.

As for snow, Smerbeck warned that a couple of snow or ice events are not out of the question. "They can get some snow this year, but the main zone of stormy weather will be just off to their northwest."

Atlanta averages about 2 to 3 inches of snow per year. Senior Meteorologist Henry Margusity pointed out, "If Atlanta does get a couple of snow or ice events, they could easily have near- or even above-normal snowfall this year."

A storm that brings several inches to the city may not seem like a big deal for people across the northern U.S., but Atlanta, as well as other cities across the South, is not equipped to handle much snow.

Last winter, a major storm system delivered 4 to 5 inches of snow to Atlanta, bringing the city to a virtual standstill.

That storm forced the city to increase its snow removal operation from 10 to more than 115 pieces of equipment, according to the AJC.

The odds of another snowstorm like this affecting Atlanta this year are small. Chances of Atlanta having another white Christmas are close to zero. Last year, 1.2 inches of snow fell on Christmas Day in Atlanta, making it the first time in 128 years that measurable snow whitened the city on Dec. 25.

Full Winter Forecast for the Southeast

Full 2011-2012 Winter Forecast


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