US winter forecast: La Niña to fuel abundant snow in Rockies; Bitterly cold air to blast Midwest


Some chilly winter weather is in store for the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, with January threatening to bring the coldest air of the season. Although however cold, low temperatures will pale in comparison to those in the northern Plains where the mercury is set to dip to minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit at times.

Meanwhile, the southern Plains, Southwest and California can expect a milder and drier winter than last season. 

Cold and snow to strike Northeast, mid-Atlantic

A chilly winter is in store for the Northeast and mid-Atlantic, particularly when compared to last year. For most of both regions, this will translate to an above-normal snow season.

“Areas in the I-95 corridor will average close to normal, within a few inches,” AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said. “Areas away from the I-95 corridor have a better chance at a big snowfall.”

New York City and Boston, Massachusetts, may be the exceptions to this, with early predictions calling for 6 inches of snowfall or more above normal in both cities.

Look back at Winter Storm Stella:

29 PHOTOS
Winter Storm Stella -- March 2017 Nor'easter
See Gallery
Winter Storm Stella -- March 2017 Nor'easter
Men plow snow in Times Square during a snowstorm in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the northeastern United States on March 14 dropping snow and sleet across the region and leading to school closures and thousands of flight cancellations. Stella, the most powerful winter storm of the season, was forecast to dump up to two feet (60 centimeters) of snow in New York and whip the area with combined with winds of up to 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour), causing treacherous whiteout conditions. But after daybreak the National Weather Service (NWS) revised down its predicted snow accumulation for the city of New York, saying that the storm had moved across the coast. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 14: Ice covers cherry blossoms near the Jefferson Memorial after a snow and ice storm hit the nation's capital on March 14, 2017 in Washington City. The east coast of the U.S. is currently being pounded by a late season winter storm. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WORCESTER, MA - MARCH 14: Parked cars line a snowy street in Worcester, MA as a winter storm arrives in the region on Mar. 14, 2017. (Photo by Suzanne Kreiter/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: A man holds an umbrella as he walks past the steps of Federal Hall in the snow and wintry mix, March 14, 2017 in New York City. The blizzard warning for New York City has been cancelled and the National Weather Service is now predicting 4 to 8 inches for the city. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Cars make their way up a snow covered Interstate 95 near Greenwich, Connecticut March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella dumped snow and sleet Tuesday across the northeastern United States where thousands of flights were canceled and schools closed, but appeared less severe than initially forecast. After daybreak the National Weather Service (NWS) revised down its predicted snow accumulation, saying that the storm had moved across the coast. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A worker clears snow in Times Square as snow falls in Manhattan, New York, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: People walk their dogs in the sleet and snow on March 14, 2017 in New York City. New York City and New Jersey are under a state of emergency as a blizzard is expected to bring over one foot of snow and high winds to the area. Schools, flights, businesses and public transportation are closed or restricted throughout the area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Men plow snow at the Times Square during a snowstorm in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the northeastern United States on March 14 dropping snow and sleet across the region and leading to school closures and thousands of flight cancellations. Stella, the most powerful winter storm of the season, was forecast to dump up to two feet (60 centimeters) of snow in New York and whip the area with combined with winds of up to 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour), causing treacherous whiteout conditions. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: A man shovels snow in the sleet and snow on March 14, 2017 in New York City. New York City and New Jersey are under a state of emergency as a blizzard is expected to bring over one foot of snow and high winds to the area. Schools, flights, businesses and public transportation are closed or restricted throughout the area. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
Workers clear steps in Times Square as snow falls in Manhattan, New York, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A woman cleans snow from her store front during a snowstorm in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the northeastern United States on March 14 dropping snow and sleet across the region and leading to school closures and thousands of flight cancellations. Stella, the most powerful winter storm of the season, was forecast to dump up to two feet (60 centimeters) of snow in New York and whip the area with combined with winds of up to 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour), causing treacherous whiteout conditions. / AFP PHOTO / Jewel SAMAD (Photo credit should read JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 14: A man holds an umbrella as he walks through the street in the early morning hours in the Financial District, March 14, 2017 in New York City. Officials in New York and New York City have declared a state of emergency in preparation for Tuesday's blizzard conditions. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Times Square Public Safety Sergeant Baldwin Davis captures falling snow with his cellular device in Times Square in Manhattan, New York, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
CHICAGO, IL - MARCH 13: People walk along a snow-covered lakefront near downtown on March 13, 2017 in Chicago, Illinois. After making it through January and February without any snow, about two inches of snow fell on the city this morning and another three to five inches are expected tonight. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
The Josephine Shaw Lowell Memorial Fountain in Bryant Park is covered in ice on March 13, 2017 as the weather continues to be below freezing. The northeastern United States braced Monday for what meteorologists predict could be the worst winter storm of the season, with blizzards feared to dump knee-high snow on New York. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A worker clears snow in Times Square during a snow storm in Manhattan, New York, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
A snow plow drives through Times Square as snow falls in Manhattan, New York, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
Cars are covered in snow in a general parking lot during the snowstorm at O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois, U.S., March 13, 2017. Some Chicagoland areas received up to 5 inches of snow, and more than 400 flights were cancelled at O'Hare. REUTERS/Kamil Krzaczynski
Snow chains to be used on a New York City Department of Sanitation garbage truck is fitted with a snow plow in the west side depot March 13, 2017 to be used over the next two days as the city braces for a nor'easter that could dump as much as two feet of snow on the city. The National Weather Service issued a 24-hour blizzard warning from midnight Monday (0400 GMT Tuesday) for New York, America's financial capital and largest city, stretching north into Connecticut and south into New Jersey. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
A New York City Department of Sanitation plow moves sand around in the west side depot March 13, 2017 to be used over the next two days as the city braces for a nor'easter that could dump as much as two feet of snow on the city. The National Weather Service issued a 24-hour blizzard warning from midnight Monday (0400 GMT Tuesday) for New York, America's financial capital and largest city, stretching north into Connecticut and south into New Jersey. / AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY (Photo credit should read TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)
The skyline of New York appears in the distance as people walk past the waterfront March 14, 2017 in Jersey City, New Jersey. Winter Storm Stella dumped sleet and snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday but spared New York from the worst after authorities cancelled thousands of flights and shut schools. Blizzard warnings were in effect in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York, but were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet, hail and rain. / AFP PHOTO / KENA BETANCUR (Photo credit should read KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)
REVERE, MA - MARCH 14: A downed tree on top of a car on Chamberlain Ave as Winter Storm Stella bears down on March 14, 2017 in Revere, Massachusetts. (Photo by Scott Eisen/Getty Images)
Locks are covered in ice on the Brooklyn Bridge in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the northeastern United States on March 14 dropping snow and sleet across the region and leading to school closures and thousands of flight cancellations. Stella, the most powerful winter storm of the season, was forecast to dump up to two feet (60 centimeters) of snow in New York and whip the area with combined with winds of up to 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour), causing treacherous whiteout conditions. But after daybreak the National Weather Service (NWS) revised down its predicted snow accumulation for the city of New York, saying that the storm had moved across the coast. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
A man clears a sidewalk of snow in Brooklyn, New York, on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the northeastern United States on March 14 dropping snow and sleet across the region and leading to school closures and thousands of flight cancellations. Stella, the most powerful winter storm of the season, was forecast to dump up to two feet (60 centimeters) of snow in New York and whip the area with combined with winds of up to 60 miles per hour (95 kilometers per hour), causing treacherous whiteout conditions. But after daybreak the National Weather Service (NWS) revised down its predicted snow accumulation for the city of New York, saying that the storm had moved across the coast. / AFP PHOTO / ANGELA WEISS (Photo credit should read ANGELA WEISS/AFP/Getty Images)
Men try to push a cab stuck in the snow on a street in New York on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella dumped sleet and snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday but spared New York from the worst after authorities cancelled thousands of flights and shut schools. Blizzard warnings were in effect in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York, but were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet, hail and rain. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC BARADAT (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
Cross country skiers enjoy a stroll in Central Park in New York city on March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella dumped sleet and snow across the northeastern United States on Tuesday but spared New York from the worst after authorities cancelled thousands of flights and shut schools. Blizzard warnings were in effect in parts of Connecticut, Massachusetts and upstate New York, but were lifted for New York City, the US financial capital home to 8.4 million residents, where snow turned to sleet, hail and rain. / AFP PHOTO / ERIC BARADAT (Photo credit should read ERIC BARADAT/AFP/Getty Images)
A public transportation bus is stuck unable to move up the hill in downtown Boston March 14, 2017. Winter Storm Stella unleashed its fury on much of the northeastern United States on March 14 dropping snow and sleet across the region and leading to school closures and thousands of flight cancellations. After daybreak the National Weather Service (NWS) revised down its predicted snow accumulation, saying that the storm had moved across the coast. / AFP PHOTO / Ryan McBride (Photo credit should read RYAN MCBRIDE/AFP/Getty Images)
Times Square is seen in the background as a man walks along West 59th street in falling snow in Manhattan, New York, U.S., March 14, 2017. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Areas prone to lake-effect snow will also see high totals, including Cleveland, Ohio; Erie, Pennsylvania; and Buffalo, New York.

“I think this year is going to bring a good ski season in the Northeast,” Pastelok said. “And around the holidays we should have some snow for the interior Northeast.”

RELATED: 
12 ways to prepare your home ahead of winter 
5 ways to prepare your car for winter 
5 simple tricks to cheat winter 
Experts debunk 4 winter driving myths 
Shoveling snow increases risk for winter heart attacks, experts say

Severe weather may threaten Southeast, Tennessee Valley

Farther south, air temperatures will face an east-west divide.

“The Southeast is going to run above normal, especially in Florida and Georgia,” Pastelok said. Both states will be at a lesser risk for a damaging freeze this year.

Additionally, Florida will remain mostly dry — good news for those recovering from Irma’s impact in the fall. Meanwhile, western areas are more likely to receive bouts of colder weather.

“We are expecting a few ice storms to develop based on the pattern we’re seeing right now,” Pastelok said.

Two to three are predicted to hit from the Tennessee Valley to northeast Texas.

Tornadoes are not out the question for either region.

The area from Texas to Georgia was hit with 137 tornadoes last January. This year, frequent tornadic activity may spin up in February.

Frigid air to take hold in northern Plains

Arctic blasts are set to freeze the northern Plains this winter with temperatures sinking to subzero levels on a regular basis.

Temperatures could plummet to minus 30 F at times in the Dakotas, Pastelok said.

However, the frigid conditions are a trade-off for less snowfall.

The winter of 2016/2017 spawned colossal storms, dropping 140 percent of normal snowfall over the northern Plains and northern Rockies, according to Pastelok. This year will feature much less snow and drier conditions overall.

Temperatures to bounce back and forth across southern Plains

The southern Plains will experience back-and-forth temperatures this season, with the middle of the winter being most likely to bring chilly conditions.

“Colder air masses will bleed down and lead to freezes in later January,” Pastelok said.

Though the wintry air will be memorable, a cold winter isn’t predicted overall. Some areas, such as southwest Texas, will average above normal for the season.

Dry periods will dominate over stormy weather overall.

“We do feel there are going to be some storms in northwest Texas at times,” he said. “Southwest Texas could see some but not as frequent as in past winters.”

Dry periods will be welcomed by many following the havoc wreaked by Harvey near Houston.

Abundant snowfall to bury Northwest, Rockies

With a weak La Niña predicted to develop this winter, the Northwest and the Rockies are set to receive an abundance of precipitation.

“I think the Bitterroot chain all the way down to the Wasatch region in the central and northern Rockies has a good shot to be above normal on snowfall this season,” Pastelok said.

The Cascades are also predicted to benefit from abundant snowfall.

“It’s a good area to head out to if you’re a big skier,” Pastelok said.

Drier, less snowy season in the offing for California

After a big season for snowfall in central and Northern California last year, both regions are predicted to be less wet and snowy in the upcoming months.

However, it won’t spell bad news for ski season.

Ski resorts will receive enough snowfall to create good conditions, but not so much that people struggle to get to them, he said.

In the Southwest, drier and warmer weather will dominate.

According to Pastelok, warmth will bookend the winter with temperatures capable of reaching into the 90s by early 2018.

Read Full Story