KNOXVILLE (WATE) - It's the number one question I get this time of year. Are we going to have a "bad" winter?
I've learned over my 28 years of forecasting that everyone has an opinion about snow. For some it's a good thing, for others maybe not.
It's hard enough forecasting for seven days, let alone a whole season. In researching information for this forecast, I came across several variables that point my forecast in the same direction.
First, after a very wet year up to now, including less than an inch of rain since September1, we are still above normal precipitation more than 17 inches.
Globally, the 2013 hurricane season has been little more than a threat with 13 named storms, only two of which became hurricanes, and none had a major impact on the U.S.
Our sea surface temperatures are basically neutral with no La Nina or El Nino impacting the forecast at this point.
The AO, or North American Oscillation, is positive now. If you want a cold snap, we will keep an eye on the AO. If it starts turning negative, then chunks of cold air could slide our way, pushing the jet stream into a colder pattern for the Knoxville area.
I also considered a dozen or so fogs in August. The woolly worms, where hornets nests are being built, The Farmer's Almanac, and of course my own noggin, all give me a clue of what will happen this winter.
In an average winter, Knoxville collects 6.5 inches of snow. The most snow in one day was a robust 17.5 inches, and the most in one season was 56.7 inches.
Lots of snow can fall in East Tennessee, but not always at lower elevations. Crossville averages two feet, while Clingman's Dome gets more than 70 inches each year.
So, based on the information and climatology, plus no major climatic changes at this point, here is my winter weather forecast:
We will start with a mild December as temperatures stay a bit above average, with highs in the 50s.
Chunks of colder air will drop south to start the year. If we can time it with moisture, then our snow chances increase. So, I think we will have a normal to slightly above normal snowfall this year of 5 to 8 inches, most of that coming 1 to 2 inches at a time. I think the higher terrains will have close to average snow totals.
While my confidence in this forecast is pretty high, I can almost guarantee we won't see another blizzard like the one in 1993.