The country may be suffering through one of its worst droughts in decades and record high temperatures are being recorded on a monthly basis, but portions of the eastern United States can expect above-normal snowfall during the 2012-2013 winter season, according to forecasters at AccuWeather.com.

The MidAtlantic and southern New England, which experienced a "snow drought" last winter, can expect a "snow dump" this year, according to Paul Pastelok, leader of AccuWeather.com's long-range forecasting team.

"The I-95 cities could get hit pretty good," Pastelok said. "It's a matter of getting the cold to phase in with the huge systems that we are going to see coming out of the southern branch of the jet stream this year." AccuWeather.com expects the cold to phase in with the big storms in January and February, with the potential for large snowstorms in major cities along the Interstate 95 (I-95) corridor, including New York, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, DC.

A weak to moderate El Nino event -- the warming of water temperatures in the central and equatorial Pacific Ocean -- by this fall is expected to herald a strong southern branch of the jet stream across the United States, the forecaster said. "When the strong southern jet stream phases with the northern branch of the jet stream, big storms can impact the East."

Last winter's relatively warm temperatures, combined with increased natural gas production from the nation's shale plays, pushed storage levels to seasonal record highs. Working gas inventories remain at historically high levels for this time of year and inventory levels at the end of October will set a new record of 3,954 Bcf, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) said last week (see Daily GPI, Aug. 8).

July was the hottest month ever for the Lower 48 states, which have also experienced a record-hot first seven months of the year and the warmest 12-month period since recordkeeping began in 1895, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) National Climatic Data Center (see Daily GPI, Aug. 9). As of August 4 there had been 982 cooling degree days in the United States, according to NOAA data.

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