KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The winter season is fast approaching, and with this comes talk of snow! Here in East Tennessee, there are several different storm tracks that can bring us snow, but only a few that bring us “big snows”.

The best forecast track to see moderate to heavy snow in East Tennessee and Southeast Kentucky occurs when a low-pressure system develops in the Gulf and moves North and East. The key here is that we need to have cold air already in place in our area.

When this happens, these Gulf low systems can bring us substantial snow. The blizzard of 1993 was an example of this type of forecast track.

We don’t often see that scenario and instead, we tend to see what we call “clipper systems”. This is a low-pressure system that drops down from the North and West. This system begins first as rain and is very fast-moving with limited moisture. Rain moves through East Tennessee first and on the back end of the system cold air filters in.

This tends to result in some mixed precipitation before the transition over to snow. Snow is more likely over the Plateau, Southeast Kentucky and Smokies in this scenario. Moisture goes over the mountains and then gets squeezed out over the higher elevations. This Northwest flow tends to limit snowfall totals in the Valley, which is why we often put out snowfall maps that look like a horseshoe with higher totals over the Smokies and Plateau.

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