The harshest winter weather in the United States is coming to the Midwest and the Great Lakes, according to AccuWeather.com.
Winter is expected to be brutal in terms of both cold and snow, the Pennsylvania-based weather agency said in its 2011-12 winter forecast, which was released Wednesday.
Northeast Ohio is likely to be hit early and often by repeated Alberta clippers, with bitter cold Canadian air dropping across the Great Lakes and heavy lake-effect snows, said senior meteorologist Alex Sosnow-ski.
The cold air will be “nasty and heavy … and could unleash the snow machine” early in the winter across northern Ohio, he said.
Later in the winter, Northeast Ohio is projected to get hit repeatedly by big storms moving from the Gulf of Mexico into the eastern Great Lakes to produce rain or snow or both, he said.
“That’s more bad news for Northeast Ohio,” he said.
The usual weather pattern appears likely to flip, with the Alberta clippers early and the Gulf of Mexico storms later in the winter, he said. The cold and snow will be widespread across the Midwest, AccuWeather.com said.
“People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter,” said long-range meteorologist Josh Nagelberg from State College, Pa.
Chicago is projected to get 50 to 58 inches of snow and temperatures will average 2 to 3 degrees colder than normal. Average snowfall in Chicago is about 30 inches. That projection would make Chicago’s winter similar to 2010-11.
The worst cold is expected in Minneapolis, Minn., AccuWeather.com said.
The heaviest snows are likely in Buffalo, N.Y., Indianapolis, Ind., and Omaha, Neb., it said.
Bitterly cold Arctic air is expected to invade the northern Plains, the Midwest and the Great Lakes from December through January, and snowfall averages are expected to be above normal, AccuWeather.com said.
“A couple of heavy hitters are possible [during this time],” senior meteorologist Paul Pastelok said of the snow.
Snowfall is expected to be above normal from Minnesota and Iowa into Ohio, Michigan and parts of West Virginia and Kentucky, AccuWeather.com said.
Above-normal snowfalls are also likely near Erie, Pa., and Buffalo from lake-effect snows, it said.
The expected buildup of snow across the Midwest could prolong the colder-than-normal weather beyond February and into early spring, AccuWeather.com said.
Bob Downing can be reached at 330-996-3745 or email@example.com.