PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – It’s that time of year again. The temperatures have started to drop and the first snowflakes began to fly over the weekend.

How much snow can we expect this winter?

KDKA-TV Chief Meteorologist Jeff Verszyla has done the research and crunched the numbers to compile his annual Winter Weather Forecast.

Seasonal predictions, such as the winter forecast, are strongly rooted in long-range global weather patterns and their corresponding influences.

Last year, one of the main players was la Nina, which led to a colder than average winter with above normal snowfall in Pittsburgh.

This year, la Nina is back and all signs point to back-to-back episodes and a resulting similar pattern to last year.

However, heading into this winter, this naturally occurring phenomenon is only about 60 percent as strong as last year.

So, the tough part is the forecast is not as simple as lowering last year’s totals by one-third.

This winter can be broken down into four headlines:

Arctic Air Takes Aim

First, Verszyla expects the arctic to open up and unload early in the season.

A serious winter chill will settle in soon after Thanksgiving with the worst of the cold locking in from December through January.

Frequent Clippers

Snowfall will accumulate mainly in small doses. Frequent and swift-moving clipper-type storm systems will track south from Canada.

These quick-hitters will produce one to three inches at a time. As a result, snow cover will build up early in the season.

Active Lake Effect

With colder than average air pouring across the lakes early in the season, the lake-effect snow machine will be quite active.

Regular advisories can be expected in the favored areas for lake effect, as the flakes will be flying with great frequency, leading to higher snow totals than usual.

Late Season Thaw

The season should do a 180 degree turnaround by February, with the frequency and strength of the cold air easing up. This will lead to less late-season snow and an earlier thaw.

Here is Verszyla’s month-by-month breakdown of how much snow to expect and when:

November Forecast

  • Below Normal Temperatures / Normal Snowfall
  • Forecast High – 49 Average High – 51
  • Forecast Low – 32 Average Low – 35
  • Forecast Snow – 2.5″ Average Snow – 3.1″
  • Slightly Below Average Temperatures, Average High 49
  • Near Normal Snowfall 2.5″

November will start off fairly normal with temperatures trending colder in the second half of the month.

Overall temperatures will finish slightly below average with a snow total just under three inches, which is close to average.

December Forecast

  • Below Normal Temperatures / Above Normal Snowfall
  • Forecast High – 35 Average High – 40
  • Forecast Low – 22 Average Low – 25
  • Forecast Snow – 14.5” Average Snow – 6.9″
  • Cold Dominates, 4 degrees below average
  • Snowfall 100 Percent Above Avg. – 14.5″

In December, Old Man Winter will take center stage early and be the main headliner all month. Cold will be a dominant force with regular small doses of snow.

Temperatures will be at least four degrees below average with snowfall almost double the average.

However, dreams of a white Christmas look good.

January Forecast

  • Below Normal Temperatures / Above Normal Snowfall
  • Forecast High – 34 Average High – 36
  • Forecast Low – 20 Avg Low – 21
  • Forecast Snow – 17.3″ Average Snow – 12.3″
  • Coldest Month, Average High 34
  • Frequent Snowfall, 17.3″, Above Average by 5″

The new year will bring the same old winter weather. January will pick up right where December leaves off.

The first month of 2012 will end with below average temperatures and snowfall above average by five inches.

February Forecast

  • Normal Temperatures / Below Normal Snowfall
  • Forecast High – 40 Average High – 40
  • Forecast Low – 24 Average Low – 23
  • Forecast Snow – 7.9″ Average Snow – 8.5″
  • Some Mild Spells, Near Normal Temps
  • Snow Tapers Off, 7.9″, Below Average

Shadow or no shadow, things will start to turn around in February as the icy grip of winter eases up.

Mild spells will fluctuate with the less frequent winter chill.

By the end of the month, temperatures will be near normal with snowfall dipping below average.

March Forecast

  • Normal Temperatures / Below Normal Snowfall
  • Forecast High – 49 Average High – 50
  • Forecast Low – 30 Average Low – 30
  • Forecast Snow – 6.1″ Average Snow – 7.9″
  • Not Much Madness, Near Normal Temps
  • Below Average Snowfall, 6.1″

March looks fairly uneventful as the late winter/early spring transition period will be absolutely average with regard to temperatures and less than average snowfall by the time the daffodils awake from their winter nap.


A colder than average winter can be expected, especially during December and January. Verszyla also expects snowfall to total 48.3 inches. Average for the area is 39.21 inches.

The cold and snowy start should be good for local ski resorts with great opportunities to build a nice base by the holidays.

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