KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Every year we get asked what systems bring East Tennessee the most snow. There are two main ways we see snow. The first is called a clipper system.
This system moves very quickly into the area and doesn’t have a lot of moisture with it. Clipper systems come out of Canada and we see some rainfall that develops out ahead of the system. Cold rain comes in behind it and usually when that happens there’s not a lot of moisture left over behind this system. Additionally, we see a northwest wind which causes the wind to rise up and over the Plateau and squeeze out moisture there, while leaving sinking air in the valley, that results in drier conditions.
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The air then rises again over the Smokies and squeezes out more moisture so these areas are more likely to see snow than what we would see in the valley. We call it the horseshoe effect and you have likely seen it before in East Tennessee.
The best opportunity for us to see snow is when an area of low pressure comes out of the Gulf of Mexico and we have cold air already in place. We tend to see these tracks often, but we typically lack the cold air in place, so we see less snow. You might recall the blizzard of 1993 was a result of a system that came in from the Gulf when we did have plenty of cold air available.
(The story is part of a WATE 6 Storm Team in-depth look at this coming winter with forecasts, cold weather tips and the science behind storms in a package of reports.)
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