Winter Weather Outlook: What will our winter look like across the Tri-Cities region?


TRI-CITIES, TN/VA (WJHL) – With dropping temperatures in the forecast, Storm Team 11 is monitoring what our winter season will bring.

So you can be prepared this winter.

The final leaves are now falling from the trees as we pass from autumn into winter. And that has many of you are asking that all-important question: ‘What will this winter be like?’

Well, to answer that, we need to take a look at several weather variables that could impact our local weather.

First, let’s of all talk about the upcoming El Nino.  With EL Nino, we see a warming of the Pacific waters and what that does, that warming creates a little bubble of warm air and along with that, we call that a ridge of high pressure.

What that does is lift the jet stream northward and that creates very warm air for the western states.

In turn, that creates a big dip in the jet stream which, can oftentimes, bring very cold air plunging southward.

The other concern, we have to watch the very strong southern branch of the jet stream during the upcoming winter season during an El Nino because that brings moisture into the southeast and eventually will develop an area of low pressure and if the two merge, the cold air and the moisture merge just in the right spot, then that could bring that area of low pressure close enough that we might actually see some locally heavy snow for the upcoming winter. 

So, let’s talk about snow for the Tri-Cities.  On average, during the winter season, we see about 13.3 inches of snow. 

Now, if you look at the last ten years of snowfall for the Tri-cities, we certainly have had some wild extremes and remember we just came off of a La Nina winter last year, that’s where a cooling of the tropical Pacific takes place which resulted in a little bit below average in terms of snowfall for the last two winters, but you can clearly see how we have seen wild extremes in the snowfall and really, interestingly enough, look at the last El Nino years which is what we are getting ready to go into this winter and look how we have seen an increase in snow during the El Nino  from 2014 to 2016.

But look in 2009 to 2010 — a whopping 26.7 inches of snowfall. Given these parameters, Storm Team 11 is forecasting a total of 16 to 18 inches of snow for the Tri-cities which is above the average of 13.3 inches.

Storm Team 11 says we’ll see our best snows during late January and then again during the middle and end of February into early March.

If we see the cold air meeting up with the moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, don’t be surprised to see one or two accumulations of snow which could be locally heavy across our region and Storm Team 11 is also predicting that we could see some extreme cold events from January to the middle of March with a few bouts of mild if not above average temperatures from December to the middle of January.  During those warm spells, we could see rounds of strong to severe thunderstorms across parts of the deep south. 

Now the bad news, Storm Team 11 think we will maintain the wet pattern through early spring as we maintain the strong southern branch of the jet stream in association with the El Nino.

You can gain access to information to keep your family safe ahead of any severe weather by downloading the Storm Team 11 Weather App.

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