(State College, PA - October 14, 2009) - According to AccuWeather.com's Chief Meteorologist and Expert Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi, winter will be centered over an area from the Mid-Atlantic to the Carolinas as a fading El Nino results in the stormiest and coldest pattern in recent years.
Bastardi predicts the current El Nino will fade over the winter and will probably not have as much of a role in the overall weather pattern as one would think during a typical El Nino year. This fading El Nino pattern will lead to a stormier and colder winter in the southern and eastern United States. While the El Nino is fading this winter, other factors are pointing to a winter very similar to that of 2002-03.
A colder, snowier winter would mean an increase in energy bills, added snow removal efforts, more travel delays and extended school closures. Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
The areas that will be hit hardest this winter by cold, snowy weather will be from New England through the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, including North Carolina. Areas from New York City to Raleigh have gotten by the past two years with very little snowfall. This year these areas could end up with above-normal snowfall.
Areas from Buffalo to Boston, which have been hit hard the past couple of winters, will see normal snowfall with temperatures slightly below normal. Bastardi adds that while these areas will have a normal winter, it's the areas farther south that have escaped from the snow and cold the past couple of winters that will see the worse winter conditions in the form of snow and cold.
Cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia could see up to 75 percent of their total snowfall in two or three big storms.
While some parts of the Appalachians did have harsh winter weather in the form of ice last year, this winter could be one of the snowiest since 2002-03, when up to 80 inches fell in many places. Snowfall totals this year could reach between 50 and 100 inches.
Last winter, the usage of salt was way up because of the number of ice storms. Salt supplies could be compromised again this year for state and local road crews that battle the winter weather. On the other hand, ski resorts could have a great year with plenty of powder for skiers.
The storm track that could develop this year will bring storms into southern California, then across the South and up the Eastern Seaboard. That track will lead to the normal amount of Nor'easters from New Jersey to Cape Hatteras.
This type of storm track will differ from that of the past two years, when storms tended to take a track farther west from Texas into the Great Lakes. That track into the Great Lakes brought unseasonably mild weather to the major East Coast cities, keeping them on the more rainy side of the storms.
The track this year right along the Eastern Seaboard would put the major cities on the cold, wintry side of the storms. Areas form Atlanta to Charlotte could see several snowstorms this year, which is something that this region has not seen in a while.
The Interstate 20 corridor from Dallas to Atlanta is a strike zone for ice and snow, given the storm track and proximity to cold air. By the end of the winter, people from Dallas to the Carolinas could say "Wow, we have snow this year!" said Bastardi.
Midwest and Central Plains
The Midwest and central Plains could get a break this winter, given that past couple of winters have been cold and snowy. Places such as Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis and Kansas City may have below-normal snowfall and could even average a bit milder than past years.
However, Oklahoma into Texas is where the cold will lead to ice and snow, and it is not out of the question that snow and ice are as far south as College Station and San Antonio, Tex.
West and Pacific Northwest
A warm and somewhat dry weather pattern is expected from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Plains. The typical barrage of winter storms that hit Seattle and Portland may not occur this winter and lead to below-normal precipitation. The core of the wet weather will be south of San Francisco into southern California and the Southwest. While some people across Southern California fear the El Nino will bring harsh storms to the region, the fading of the El Nino will lessen that risk and provide storms more capable of producing less intense rains that result in mudslides and flooding.
For example, Los Angeles could have 110 percent of normal rainfall and the Sierras and Southwest mountains will have the normal amount of snowfall which is good for skiers. The Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, from February 12 to 28 could be impacted by the lack of snow and cold weather this winter. It's not out of the question that a dry and mild pattern develops very near or during the time of the Olympics. A storm track into California and the Southwest means near-normal rainfall for Southern California.
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