The best ‘storm tracks’ for bringing snow to East Tennessee

Winter Forecast

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – As we are getting close to the winter season, now is the time to think about the different ways East Tennessee tends to see snow.

There are two main ways that we get snow here in East Tennessee. The first is what we call a clipper system, a low pressure system that typically comes from the Canada are. This is essentially a fast-moving system that pushes into East Tennessee and at first it tends to bring us rain, sometimes even a mix of freezing rain before we start to see that colder air push in which eventually gives us some snow.

Because this system moves so fast, by the time that colder air gets filtered in we start to lose moisture. This is why this system doesn’t tend to produce a lot of snow in the valley areas. The winds are out of the northwest with this system, so that piles up some of the snow over the Plateau and the Smokies, while it creates a drier airmass for the valley areas.

We tend to see this typical horseshoe shape. We get this a lot of times during the winter season, so you’ll see us issue those snow maps with that horseshoe shape with more snow for southeast Kentucky, the Plateau and then towards the Smokies.

Our best way to get a real heavy snow in East Tennessee is when we have a low-pressure system moving in from the gulf.

The key here is that we already have cold air in place for East Tennessee. That is the key factor here because we can get plenty of low-pressure systems from the gulf but without that cold air, we do not see extensive snow.

You might remember the Blizzard of 1993. We had that cold air already there and then that low pressure system moved in. If you’re a fan of a lot of snow, that is the best way we see it.

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