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Wrong last year, AccuWeather tries again

Published: Thursday, Oct. 4, 2012 8:43 a.m. CDT

(MCT) — Remember all those blizzards in the winter of 2011-12? The weather that was supposed to make Chicagoans want to leave town, the storms that would be almost as bad as the 2011 Groundhog Day Blizzard? No?

AccuWeather.com, which produces seasonal forecasts several months out, does.

About a year ago, AccuWeather long-range meteorologist Josh Nagelberg predicted that the weather might be so bad that "People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter."

Instead, Chicago saw one of its warmest, and least snowy, winters ever. And this year, AccuWeather is predicting a below-normal snowfall with just a slight chance of above-normal temperatures between October and April. The National Weather Service predicts both below-normal snowfall and above-normal temperatures for the winter months.

AccuWeather wasn't alone in thinking there might be a repeat of the record-setting 2010-11 snow season, though others weren't as emphatic about it.

Senior AccuWeather meteorologist Paul Pastelok said Wednesday that the long-range forecasters he works with looked at weather patterns similar to last fall's in previous years — and some of them had resulted in snowfalls well above normal.

The weather systems that gave us warm, dry air last fall can result in cooler and wetter conditions in the winter. But the Canadian air that sometimes invades Chicago, bringing some of our worst weather, was instead blocked.

"We didn't have that last year," Pastelok said.

The dire 2011-12 forecast was also issued before a so-called European model long-range forecast had pointed to the possibility of a mild winter, Pastelok noted.

As always, predicting the winter in Chicago gets easier the nearer we get to the end of autumn.

"October is a key month," Pastelok said, adding that the forecast will change if meteorologists see something that points to a different weather pattern.

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