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Slow start forecast for winter in East

| Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Snow lovers in the Eastern United States may have to wait until February to see much of the white stuff, according to the winter forecast released on Wednesday by private forecasting firm AccuWeather.

At the same time, most of the West will get smacked with the opposite weather pattern: a cold and snowy start — which could be good news for drought-plagued California — followed by a warmer end to the winter. Meanwhile, the north-central states should slog through a typically cold and stormy season.

After a couple of shots of chilly air in November, “we should see temperatures in December some 3-4 degrees above average in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic,” AccuWeather meteorologist Jack Boston said.

Most of January should be a bit warmer than average, he said, before the weather turns frigid and snowy in February. Boston predicted that February will be favorable for big snowstorms and nor'easters along the East Coast.

Philadelphia, for instance, which received only 8 inches of snow last year, will likely get higher amounts, AccuWeather predicted.

The Southeast and Gulf Coast will be warmer than average, Boston said, with some spots in the Tennessee Valley experiencing record-breaking warmth in December. However, along with the mild temperatures, there will be a threat for a few bouts of severe storms and the chance of tornadoes.

Winter has paid an unwelcome early visit in South Dakota, where parts of the state were buried under as much as four feet of snow last week. This is likely a preview of coming attractions, as AccuWeather expects strong systems to dump above-average amounts of snow. The Northwest and northern Rockies should expect plenty of cold and snow.

California should enjoy some drought relief in December and January, thanks to a prediction of heavy rain and snow.

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