Winter Forecast 2010-2011: Heavier Snow for Chicago, Minneapolis and Detroit, Normal Snowfall for NYC, Philly and D.C.

September 09, 2010, 1:54:52 AM EDT

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The major metropolitan areas of the mid-Atlantic that were pummeled with snow last year will get a break this winter, but that doesn’t mean there will be no snow to shovel. In contrast, Chicago, Milwaukee and Minneapolis could be in the heaviest snow zone this upcoming winter.


Winter's Worst Cold and Snow Overall, Chief Long-Range Meteorologist Joe Bastardi is predicting that the worst of winter’s cold and snow will be from the Pacific Northwest into the northern Plains and western Great Lakes. That will put cities like Portland and Seattle that escaped with a very nice winter last year, colder and snowier this year. Fargo and Minneapolis to Green Bay will also receive above-normal winter snowfall.

Other cities predicted to receive above-normal winter snowfall include Chicago, Omaha, Minneapolis, Detroit, Cleveland, Seattle and Portland.

Bastardi predicts severe cold will hit Alaska and western and central Canada.

“The Canadian winter will be as harsh as last year's was gentle,” Bastardi said.

Wintry Battle Zone But No Snowmageddon In general, the East Coast will be granted a reprieve from the tremendous snowfall that caused 2009-2010's winter to be dubbed "snowmageddon."

This does not mean a free pass for the Northeast. Bastardi predicts late November and December could get winter off to a fast start in the East, with a major thaw coming for much of the country in January.

Bastardi makes the early cold connection between this year's active hurricane season and his winter forecast.

He said that years that see significant landfall, such as 1995, 2008 and 2005, usually also have cold for much of the eastern and central portions of the nation in December.

He said this year from the central Rockies to the Northeast a higher variance of temperatures will be present — "greater-than-normal swings between winter's coldest and warmest days." The conflicting warm and cold air masses contributing to these temperature fluctuations have placed this area into what Bastardi calls the "Wintry Battle Zone."

Despite the wild swings in temperatures, cities like New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., will still have near-normal snowfall. To put this in perspective, New York City receives an average of 28.4 inches of snowfall during winter.

Warmer and Drier South The South and southern Plains will escape the worst of the winter weather with warmer and drier conditions compared to last year. Dallas, which received near-record snowfall last year, will be lucky to get normal snowfall this year.

While these areas will be warmer and drier, this does not preclude the southern Plains and South from the threat of a couple of ice storms, as cold air tries to intrude southward.

The best weather this winter will be in Florida. Bastardi suggests that Florida will be a great winter destination, with warmer-than-normal temperatures all winter long. We will also see warmer weather all along the Gulf coast, which could help the beach resorts recover from the economic downturn associated with the oil spill.

Southern California May Suffer from Drought Southern California and portions of the Southwest could be threatened by a severe drought and high danger for wildfires, as Bastardi predicts a much drier-than-normal winter season for the region.

According to Senior Meteorologist and West Coast Expert Ken Clark, strict water management for Southern California could result come next spring and summer.

However, Bastardi predicts that from San Francisco and areas to the north, there could be more precipitation.

“This may be a great winter for building the Pacific Northwest and Canada snowpack, which is opposite of last winter,” said Bastardi.

Temperatures this Winter Temperature-wise, Bastardi is forecasting slightly higher-than-normal temperatures (0.5 to 1 degree warmer) for Boston, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Detroit, Chicago, Kansas City and Minneapolis will be a degree or so cooler than average, while much of the western part of the nation may see temperatures that dip a couple of degrees.

Bastardi said Salt Lake City could be as much as 1-3 degrees colder, while Denver will be about 2 degrees below normal and both San Francisco and Los Angeles will have temperatures about 1.5 degrees cooler.

Above-normal snowfall is predicted for the Great Basin region, the Northwest and northern Plains, while the South and Southwest will get less snow than average.

Story by Kirstie Hettinga, Carly Porter and Henry Margusity, Staff Writers.

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