AccuWeather's 2022-2023 US winter forecast (2023)

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From the abundance of acorns in the fall to the bushiness of squirrel tails, there are many fanciful forecasting techniques have been used over the years as a means to glean a glimpse of what the weather will be like in the upcoming winter.

AccuWeather's approach to concocting the winter forecast, one of its most highly-anticipated seasonal outlooks, is a bit different: The process involves a team of veteran long-range forecasters analyzing computer models, looking at how previous winters have played out and using their own personal experience to determine if it's going to be a snowy winter, if andwhen the polar vortex will unleash Arctic air across North America and whether it will be a good season for skiers.

This winter is indeed looking like a snowy one across most of the northern tier of the contiguous United States, but AccuWeather senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok says,there is more to the forecast than just snowstorms.

Pastelok and his team of long-range forecasters are predicting a "triple dipLa Niña," as it is the third winter in a row that La Niña will shape the weather patterns across the U.S. The regular climate phenomenon occurs when the water near the equator in the eastern Pacific Ocean is cooler than average, which in turn influences the jet stream and the overall weather patterns in North America. Despite what will be the third La Niña winter in a row, this winter will not necessarily be a carbon copy of the past two.

"These third-year La Niñas are very tricky," Pastelok said, with no two La Niña winters being exactly the same. The weather setup will be one of the most complicated and dynamic in recent memory due to all of the weather factors in play over the upcoming months, Pastelok said.

One of the more unusual factors that could influence the overall weather patterns this winter can be traced back to a cataclysmic volcano eruption that took place in the early weeks of 2022. The volcano spewed an unprecedented amount of debris high into Earth's atmosphere which, as Pastelok will explain, could still be having an effect on the weather on a global scale.

With this in mind, AccuWeather is ready to make its annual prognostication and unveil a detailed region-by-region breakdown of the U.S. winter forecast as well as seasonal snowfall predictions for six of the nation's biggest cold-weather cities:

Severe weather to follow hurricane season in Southeast

A mild winter is in the forecast for most of the southeastern U.S., but it's not the air temperature that AccuWeather meteorologists are keeping a close eye on. Instead, it's the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic Seaboard that has meteorologists' attention.

"The water temperatures are going to have a big impact going forward this season," Pastelok said.

In addition to fueling anactive final stretch of the Atlantic hurricane season,which officially lasts through Nov. 30, the warm waters off the coasts of the Southeast will promote frequent storms and downpours across the region as the autumn fades into winter.

Some heavier rain events will be possible across the Gulf Coast states and into the Tennessee Valley from December into February, including the risk for some severe weather, Pastelok said.

Severe weather as a whole decreases across the U.S. during the winter months, but it can still be disastrous across the Southeast during this time of year. Last December, a catastrophic severe weather outbreak spawned tornadoes in nine states,causing 76 fatalities and $18 billion in damage just before the start of the holiday season. In 2012,a tornado outbreak across Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama on Christmas Dayspun up 34 twisters and 84 damaging wind reports and cut power to families as they tried to celebrate the holiday with their friends and families.

Hazards of a differentand more traditionally winter varietycould alsodevelop this season. Last year, there were several snow events across the region that blanketed some southern cities.Huntsville, Alabama, measured 5.2 inches of snow last winter, more than double the annual average of 2.4 inches.

The best opportunity for snow or wintry precipitation across the interior Southeast will arrive in January and early February with one or two snowfall events possible in this timeframe. This is lower than last winter when there were four occasions on which snow accumulated across the region.

Pastelok added that if the water in the Gulf of Mexico and along the Atlantic coast remain warmer than usual, there is the chance for a "potentially big system" to develop during the second half of the winter that could impact the East Coast.

As for Floridians and reptilian inhabitants of the Sunshine State, the pushes of frigid air that do make it to the Southeast might come short of intruding deep into central or southern Florida.

In recent winters, there have been cold spells in Florida that sent the mercury dipping down into the 30s and 40s F, enough to cause frost and freeze in the typically warm state, which can endanger some of the state's temperature-sensitive citrus crops. Temperatures this low can also cause thecold-blooded iguanas that reside in Florida to become temporarily stunnedby the cold to the point that they appear dead before the warmth reanimates the reptiles.

Pastelok said that the chance of a widespread frost or freeze is low this year, but if it does occur, it will likely take place in late January.

Will snow shovels gather dust in Northeast, Midwest?

A wave of chilly air swept across the Northeast and Midwest just in time for the arrival of astronomical autumn, which started on Sept. 22, but the arrival of astronomical winter on Dec. 21 may not start in a similar fashion.

Residents across the Northeast and Midwest will experience a few winter previews in November and December as waves of cold air dive down from Canada, but the biggest blasts of cold air will hold off until later in the winter. The clash of cold air with lingering warmth could spark an out-of-season severe weather event in the Midwest or Ohio Valley late in November or in December.

These atmospheric ingredients will also be present to generate some early-season snow, but this will not be an indicator of how the entire winter will play out, but instead,the start of a bookend winter in terms of snowfall.

"I think going forward, even though we're in the La Niña [phase], it may be just too mild at the middle part of the season to get a lot of frequent [snow] events," Pastelok explained.

Snowfall for the season as a whole is likely to be below normal for most of the central Appalachians, Ohio Valley and interior mid-Atlantic, but precipitation could end up above normal with a few all-rain events likely to unfold throughout the winter.

Lake-effect snow will be less prolific in the eastern Great Lakes, including areas aroundBuffalo, New York;Erie, Pennsylvania; andCleveland. Farther west, near- to above-normal lake-effect snow is expected.

AccuWeather's 2022-2023 US winter forecast (1)

Outside of that region, New England is one of the only areas east of the Rocky Mountains where snowfall could end up being above normal. The snowfall totals will be boosted by a few nor'easters, with January and March bringing the highest chances of powerful coastal snowstorms.

Bostonmay end up being the only major city along the Interstate 95 corridor that finishes the winter with near-normal snowfall. AccuWeather long-range forecasters are predicting that 40 to 50 inches will accumulate in the city, around the average snowfall amount of 49.2 inches. Last winter, Boston finished the season with 54 inches of snow with 23.5 inches falling during a blizzard on Jan. 29.

In cities such asWashington, D.C., the emphasis is not on how much snow will fall, but on how often snow makes an appearance. Last January, accumulating snow was observed on just four days throughout the month, amounting to 12.3 inches. This accounted for 93% of all of the snow that fell in the nation's capital throughout the entire winter.

This winter, AccuWeather is predicting that Washington, D.C., will experience accumulating snow on only three to five days throughout the season with total accumulations amounting to 6 to 10 inches, just below the average of 13.7 inches.

AccuWeather's 2022-2023 US winter forecast (2)

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AccuWeather's 2022-2023 US winter forecast (3)

AccuWeather's 2022-2023 US winter forecast (4)

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