By: Rebecca Herman
East Tennessee has seen unseasonably warm weather so far for the 2015-2016 winter season; many days even broke state records for highest temperatures for the month of December. However, with the ringing in of a new year, has winter finally arrived and will big weather patterns like El Niño bring snow or rain for East Tennessee?
El Niño happens when the Pacific Oceans water temperatures are unusually high, if the Pacifics water temperatures are lower than usual the weather pattern is called an El Niña. These temperatures affect not only the west coast, but countries worldwide. The bottom half of the United States usually will see increased rainfall and therefore flooding during an El Niño.
Winds that normally blow towards the west across the tropical Pacific will settle in the central and western Pacific during El Niño, which increases the water temperature in some areas, while decreasing the water temperatures in other areas. When the rainy weather is combined with colder air from the Great Lakes and Canada, the snow begins to fall.
In the past East Tennessee has been greatly affected by an El Niño, in the winters of 1991-1992 and 1997-1998, the area saw record low temperatures and snowfall. Some meteorologists have suggested that East Tennessee will see a snowy winter season this year, while others say the area will have chilly but mostly rainy weather. Even with tools that measure pressure, temperature, and patterns, weather is difficult to predict, especially in mountainous areas like Johnson County.
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