A small snow…is it a precursor of things to come?

Officially, the National Weather Service recorded 1.5 inches of snow in Oneida Thursday night and Friday morning. That’s a conservative figure based on what some people saw; most of the Oneida area saw 2 inches of snow, and there were places where as much as 3 inches of snow were reliably measured. But, by the same token, there were places — particularly on the south end of Scott County — where much less than 3 inches of snow fell.

Officially, it’s the first snow of the season in Oneida, since the NWS for inexplicable reasons didn’t record even a trace of snow in November or December. But there were a couple of inches of snow that fell back in November. Still, it’s been a relatively snowless winter overall, and Friday’s event doesn’t change that.

So where does the pattern go from here? Was Friday’s nuisance snow a precursor for bigger winter storms that lurk around the corner? Or an anomaly in an otherwise mild and snowless winter?

For now, it still looks like it was an anomaly. This week-ending cold snap was fairly well modeled, showing up well in advance. But, as I noted in a previous post, it’s the only real intrusion of arctic air showing up during the first half of February. In fact, it may be the only intrusion of cold air through at least the first three full weeks of February. There are some signs that a cold shot may be headed our way right at the end of the two-week period, around February 22-23, but that’s hardly certain at this juncture. There will also be a bit of a cool-down at the end of next week, on the tail-end of yet another exceptionally wet period, but it’ll hardly be anything to write home about.

The North Atlantic Oscillation just briefly dipped to neutral territory but is headed into positive territory for at least the next couple of weeks. The Arctic Oscillation is still progged to move into extreme positive territory over the next few days, and should stay positive through at least the next two weeks. The Pacific North American ridge index looks to be neutral at best. And the Madden-Julian Oscillation still isn’t cooperating. Without going into the nutshell version of what each of those teleconnections represent, let’s just say that’s not a very good look for sustained cold and snow chances in the Mid-South region.

As a result, while colder-than-normal air is expected to floor much of the country over the next couple of weeks, it looks like southeast ridging will keep much of the South — including East Tennessee — mild for much of the rest of the month. The long-range forecast from NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center reflects that. And the CPC is also projecting above-average temperatures for the Southeast to persist all the way into early March.

If that forecast holds, it may very soon be time to stick a fork in Winter 2019-2020. It won’t go down as snowless as it once appeared it might, but it still looks like we’re on the verge of back-to-back winters without a significant winter storm.

Ben Garrett

Ben Garrett is a journalist from East Tennessee. He is publisher of the Independent Herald, a weekly newspaper serving the Big South Fork region of the Cumberland Plateau, with a sideline in website development and digital marketing. He is also an erstwhile blogger.

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