Snowfall is forecast to average near or even slightly above normal in areas south and east of the mountains from Virginia to Maine.
For areas north and west of the Appalachians, however, snowfall for the season is expected to be much higher. An early, heavy lake-effect snow season will put northwestern Pennsylvania and western New York into the zone of winter's worst snow and cold, according to the team.
Ice Zone Sets Up Across Southern States; Severe Threat Develops in February
The Long-Range Team expects areas from northeastern Texas and Oklahoma into Kentucky and Tennessee to deal with more ice than snow events this winter, especially from early to mid-season.
Occasionally, icing could affect areas farther east into the western Carolinas and northern parts of Alabama and Georgia. This would be most likely in January.
The team also expects a significant risk for severe weather and flood events to develop over the lower Mississippi Valley in February. Mississippi, Alabama and Tennessee, which were devastated by tornadoes in the spring, will be extremely sensitive to any severe weather outbreaks.
Southwest, Texas Stay Parched and Warmer than Normal
"Mild and dry" will unfortunately be the mantra this winter for much of Texas and the Southwest, a region that desperately needs rain. Texas continues to suffer through the worst drought in its history.
Precipitation is expected to remain below normal in southern and western Texas and the interior Southwest this season. "The interior Southwest will be the driest area of the country through winter," Pastelok said.
Northern and eastern Texas, however, could fair a bit better with higher chances for precipitation as cold fronts "make it there with ease", as Pastelok stated. The downside to these higher precipitation chances, however, will be the risk of ice events, especially from late December into January.
West to Experience Big Swings This Winter
Apart from the Southwest, people across the western U.S. can expect large swings in weather conditions this winter, according to the Long-Range Team.
December is likely to feature above-normal warmth across much of the entire West. However, from late December into January, the team expects a transition where cold fronts will drop farther south along the West Coast, reaching northern and central California. This transition should bring temperatures back near normal, away from the interior Southwest.
The famed "Pineapple Express", a phenomenon that occurs when a strong, persistent flow of tropical moisture sets up from the Hawaiian Islands to the West Coast of the U.S., could develop for a time this winter. This phenomenon often leads to excessive rain and incredible snow events.
The AccuWeather.com 2011-2012 Winter Forecast runs in line with meteorological winter, which begins on Dec. 1 and runs through the end of February. Astronomical winter, on the other hand, begins on Dec. 22 this year and runs through March 20.
From AccuWeather.com (find the original story here); reprinted with permission.