According to AccuWeather.com's (State College, Pa.) Chief Meteorologist and Expert Long Range Forecaster Joe Bastardi, winter will be centered over an area from Maryland to the Carolinas as a fading El Niño results in the stormiest and coldest pattern in recent years.
Bastardi predicts the current El Niño 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 Niño year. While the El Niño is fading this winter, other factors are pointing to a winter very similar to that of 2002-2003.
A colder, snowier winter would mean added snow removal efforts, more travel delays and extended school closures, especially for the southern schools where snow and ice is predicted.
Northeast and Mid-Atlantic
The areas that will be hit hardest this winter by cold, snowy weather will be from southern New England through the Appalachians and mid-Atlantic, including the Carolinas. Areas from Washington D.C. to Charlotte have had very little snowfall the past two winters. This season these areas could end up with above-normal snowfall.
Northern areas, including Buffalo, Boston and Maine, have been hit hard the past couple of winters, but will see normal snowfall with temperatures slightly below normal this winter.
However, the traditional lake-effect areas of western New York may see local variations of heavier snows. Bastardi adds that while these areas will have a normal winter, the areas farther south that have escaped from the snow and cold the past couple of winters will see the worst winter conditions in the form of snow and cold.
Cities such as New York, Boston and Philadelphia could get 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 2002-2003, when up to 80 inches fell in many places. Snowfall totals this year could reach between 50 and 100 inches in the Appalachians.
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 Cape Hatteras to New Jersey.
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 rainy side of the storms.
Midwest and 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 will be 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, Texas.
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, which would lead to below-normal precipitation.
If you have questions or want to speak to a meteorologist, contact: Roberti@AccuWeather.com