BY O.J. EARLY
Local snow-lovers may be disappointed this winter.
At least that seems likely from the 2013-14 winter forecast issued Wednesday by AccuWeather.
The weather forecasting firm predicts record-breaking warmth across East Tennessee in December, with monthly temperatures averaging four-to-six degrees above normal.
Below-average snow totals are expected this winter, though above-normal precipitation is forecast.
"In any given year -- I've been here about 20 years -- it seems to be getting harder to get a good snow in the East Tennessee Valley," said Terry Getz, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Morristown.
"It is pretty hard to get a significant snow in the Tennessee Valley."
The month of December may mean more than snow-less days for local residents.
The Tennessee Valley could encounter a few severe storms and even the possibility of tornadoes, according to AccuWeather.
"With the warmth will come a severe weather threat for the central and western Gulf Coast," the weather firm said in a news release.
"A few heavy rain events could lead to flooding in December and February, ultimately resulting in above-normal precipitation for the area."
HARD TO PREDICT
Making long-range weather predictions is often difficult, Getz said Wednesday.
"The outlook can say one thing for the long-term, but you may have a few days where you have the chance to get a lot of snow," he said.
"You might hit a three-to-five-day event where it's the opposite of what's predicted and you have a good snow."
And then there's this.
The 2014 Old Farmers Almanac predicts a colder-than-normal winter, with below-average precipitation for East Tennessee.
The coldest periods, the almanac forecasts, will be mid-and-late December and mid-to-late February.
Nationwide, the eastern section of the U.S. likely won't see much snow until February, AccuWeather reported.
In the West, winter is expected to start cold and blustery, but warm up as the season progresses.
Above-normal snow is predicted in the North, the weather firm forecasts.
"It's not going to be a complete [snow] drought season coming up, but I think they'll have to wait until probably late in the season to get their best chances of the higher snow amounts," AccuWeather Expert Long-Range Forecaster Paul Pastelok said in a news release.
"The farther south you go, it is going to more likely be mid- to-late season that you may have an opportunity to see some snow, which is typical," he said.