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Snow in August? It's steamy now, but forecasters see a big winter coming.

It's an August of steamy heat and rattling air conditioners, but the long-range forecasts are out: The big cities of the Northeast corridor should expect no repeat of last winter's snow drought.

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People walk through Times Square as snow falls in New York, in this January 2011 file photo.

Gary Hershorn/Reuters/File

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Last winter, big cities like New York and Philadelphia saved a lot of money because the Northeast had a snow drought. Not so this winter.

Yes, even while air conditioners are still running, meteorologists are beginning to focus on the long-term winter weather forecast. And, it looks as if the I-95-corridor cities from Washington to Boston will need to make sure the plows are gassed up and rock salt plentiful.

“I think the East Coast is going to have some battles with some big storms,” says Paul Pastelok, Accu-Weather’s lead long-term forecaster in State College, Pa.

However, Mr. Pastelok predicts the battles won’t start until January and then will extend into February. “November in the Northeast could be above-normal temperatures and below-normal precipitation, and December could be a transition month,” he says. “By January and February it’s going to get pretty cold.”

The cold will collide with moisture flowing up the East Coast, he says, resulting in some big snowstorms that could create travel problems, close school systems and create challenges for retailers.

“The good news is that the winter will be good for hats, gloves, scarves, rock salt, and the plowing industry,” says Scott Bernhardt, president of Planalytics, Inc. a business weather intelligence service in Berwyn, Pa. “It’s bad for store traffic, because other than urban areas it’s hard to get around, and restaurants also take a hit because people just don’t go out.”

Mr. Bernhardt says the possibility of a severe winter has yet to hit some of the businesses he talks to. “It’s crazy how many businesses plan off last year,” he says. “And, it’s a no-brainer that it’s not going to be as nice as last year.”

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