Could the Tri-Cities see more snow this winter? | Mark Reynolds winter weather forecast | WJHL
(WJHL) – The winter of 2023-2024 could be an interesting one thanks to a change in a weather pattern known as El Niño.
El Niño is a warming of the tropical Pacific Ocean.
This warming pattern causes a shift in the jet stream, which could lead to wetter, flooding conditions in the southern United States and warmer, drier conditions across the northern part of the country.
The winter of 1997-98 was an El Niño year, the strongest El Niño on record at that time.
Northeast Tennessee experienced deadly flooding due to a wave of warm, moist air from the Gulf Coast.
At the same time, Roan Mountain had more than a foot of snow on the ground at the top of the mountain. The snow melted quickly as warm air and heavy rain moved in, causing floodwaters to collapse on the Doe River in Elizabethton. Seven people died in the floods.
The strong southern branch of the jet stream can increase atmospheric lift and shear at times, which could lead to increased winter tornadoes throughout the Southeast – including Tennessee.
Strong El Niño conditions are expected this winter.
Let’s take a look at three instances of strong El Niño events in the past: The winter of 1982-1983 produced 21.9 inches of snow in the Tri-Cities, while the winter of 2015-2016 produced 18.4 inches of snow. Also noteworthy is the El Niño event of the winter of 1997-1998, during which the Tri-Cities recorded only a trace of snow throughout the entire winter season.
Here’s Mark Reynolds’ winter weather forecast:
I expect we will see an increase in snowfall this year. The Tri-Cities averages 9.2 inches of snowfall during the winter.
I also think this could be the winter where we look south to watch for the potential for some big storms to bring accumulating snow to our area. However, if we are on the wrong side of the storm in warm air, we will see heavy rain and warm temperatures.
Given our current dry weather pattern and the variables with snowfall during the recent strong El Niño years mentioned above, I’m leaning more toward a normal snow season. I expect 6-9 inches of snow this coming winter; However, if we get a few strong southern storm systems, moving in the right direction with the cold air, we could double the average snowfall.
My other concern is the possibility of severe weather at times from December to late March with the possibility of locally heavy rain. Don’t be surprised to see some warm spells with record highs likely this winter as well.