Will extreme weather continue

Many people are wondering if extreme weather patterns are going to continue through fall. Will there be more disastrous severe weather? What about early-season snowstorms and cold snaps? Will Texas get any drought relief?

2011 has been a year of extremes so far, from record-smashing snowstorms that pummeled the Midwest and Northeast in the winter to historic flooding and the devastating tornadoes that ravaged the South and central Plains during spring.

Now summer has proven to be extreme as well, most notably for the recent stifling heat waves that have gripped the eastern two-thirds of the country. At least 5,000 temperature records have been set because of the heat this summer.

That is not to mention the epic drought that has taken over Texas, Oklahoma and the south-central U.S.

While there is definitely concern for impacts from hurricanes, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes and snowstorms this fall, the season is generally not expected to be as extreme as the rest have been this year.

The AccuWeather.com Long-Range Forecasting Team’s forecast for fall 2011 highlights the Southeast for impacts from tropical systems, the northern Plains and Midwest for cold air invasions and snowstorms and areas from the southern Plains into the Ohio Valley for severe weather.  However, there is little hope for drought relief in Texas.

A Look at the Highlights:

Snow and Cold

Paul Pastelok, AccuWeather.com Expert Senior Meteorologist and Long-Range Forecaster, points to areas from the northern Rockies into the Dakotas for above-normal snowfall and the core of colder-than-normal conditions this fall. "That area will basically be from Bismarck on north and west into the Rockies starting toward the end of September," Pastelok said.

However, bigger cities, such as Chicago, Minneapolis and Denver, will also deal with wintry weather as arctic air charges farther south and east at times.

Pastelok expects Chicago, for example, to pick up more snow this fall than it did last year with the first event being in November. Only a trace of snow fell in the Windy City last fall, and that was in November.

Denver residents may have to keep their guard up for snow quite a bit earlier.

"We do see the possibility for an early-season snow toward the end of September in Denver," Pastelok warned. "October should be drier and warmer, but the chill and snow may come back in November."

Pastelok predicts Minneapolis to have its first snow in October, most likely later in the month when cold air starts working its way in. This is a fairly typical time for Minneapolis to have its first snow.

Tropical Activity

Mid-August through the end of September is typically the most active part of hurricane season, and the tropics are expected to behave accordingly.

The team is predicting five or six more named storms in the Atlantic Basin during September and one more in October. One or two of those storms are expected to make a direct hit on the U.S.

AccuWeather.com Tropical Expert Dan Kottlowski stated that these impacts will mostly likely be somewhere along the U.S. coastline from Brownsville, Texas, to Hatteras, N.C.  He also mentioned that areas from Florida into the Carolinas have a slightly higher chance of being hit.

North of Hatteras, chances are minimal.

Severe Weather

This fall, the team is predicting two main periods when severe weather will be particularly active.

The first round is expected to target areas from Kansas and Oklahoma into Missouri, Arkansas and possibly northeastern Texas during the second half of September. "I am concerned there could be a particularly strong event in late September," Pastelok said.

The second round is forecast from late October into early November from northeastern Texas into the western Ohio Valley.

Oklahoma City, Okla., and Springfield and St. Louis, Mo., are some of the cities that will lie in the heart of the severe weather zone this fall.

Texas Heat and Drought

Drier-than-normal conditions are expected to persist across Texas and the Southwest throughout the fall. The only way Texas could get any drought relief would be through a tropical system.

While the extreme 100-degree heat that has been smothering the Lone Star State most of summer will ease, temperatures are expected to continue averaging above normal.