KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – It is time once again for the WATE 6 Storm Team winter weather outlook for East Tennessee.
This marks the third consecutive year that a La Nina pattern has been observed across the west coast of South America. It is a cooler-than-average sea surface temperature pattern there that can have impacts across the globe.
So, what does that mean for our winters here in East Tennessee?
How does WATE 6 forecast winter weather?
Yearly averages and La Nina are just two of the elements the WATE 6 Storm Team looks at while making this snow-cast.
The La Nina pattern often means a milder and wetter-than-average winter season. In fact, 11 of the past 14 La Nina events have been this pattern. In the past two La Nina winters here in East Tennessee, we saw 5.3″ of snow in 2020, and 10.7″ in 2021.
More than half of the 2021 total fell on March 12, which is technically outside of what we consider Meteorological Winter (December, January and February).
Knoxville’s seasonal average for snowfall is just 4.6″ per year, so these have been slightly above average totals even with above average temperatures over this time period.
It just goes to show that if we have cold air in place across the region, that active southern branch of the jet stream can increase our snow totals.
Knoxville often sees the highest snow totals in a “neutral” pattern, meaning we aren’t in a La Nina or an El Nino pattern like we most recently saw in 2013 and 2014. With the fact that we believe that the La Nina pattern will linger through most of the winter, we feel as though we will see a slightly wetter and slightly warmer than average winter.
For December, we believe the La Nina pattern could benefit our current drought conditions with increased moisture across the area, but it would be more in the form of rain rather than snow, as the likelihood of colder air seems low.
By January, the temperatures still look as though they could be milder than average, but as we often see, there will be colder snaps. If moisture moves in during one of these, it would of course increase snow opportunities in the region.
There is also a high likelihood of La Nina continuing through at least early next year before weakening some towards the end of winter.
As we wrap up meteorological winter in February, the better snow chances should be earlier in the month when colder air would be more plentiful. We do think the second half of February should be a little milder, meaning snow chances should be lower.
This doesn’t mean we won’t see snow. In fact, we are thinking that we could actually see slightly above average snow totals across the region this season.
Here are WATE 6 Storm Team thoughts on snowfall this season:
We look forward to your reports and pictures this winter as snows settle into your area. Contact the WATE 6 newsroom.
Stay safe and have fun this winter season!