CHICAGO (CBS) -- This week is an anomaly for early fall, with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s for a whole week in a row.
Enjoy it while it lasts, because a few months from now, we could be in for one of the snowiest winters in recent memory. And that prediction is for the year after the third heaviest blizzard in Chicago history.
"People in Chicago are going to want to move after this winter," AccuWeather long-range meteorologist Josh Nagelberg says on the agency's Web site.
As WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports, the long-range AccuWeather forecast predicts the Chicago area will be hit with 50 to 58 inches of snow in total – at least 20 inches above normal.
LISTEN: WBBM Newsradio's Regine Schlesinger reports
Last year's total was 57.9 inches, 21.2 of which fell in the infamous blizzard on Feb. 1 and 2.
In addition, temperatures will be 2 to 3 degrees below normal, according to AccuWeather meteorologist Elliot Abrams.
"The La Niña seems to be coming back – that's the full cycle of the Pacific," Abrams said. "Also, there has been a fair amount of volcano activity that has sent ash into the northern latitudes around the poles, and also, there was a lot of ice melting in the Arctic this past summer. That tends to lead to high-pressure areas building up over the Arctic."
That, Abrams explains, leads to cold and snowy weather.
CBS 2 Meteorologist Megan Glaros explains AccuWeather expects the jet stream to drive directly through the Midwest this winter. Last year, the jet stream steered the snowstorms toward the Eastern Seaboard, resulting in two monstrous blizzards that clobbered Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., on Dec. 26 and Jan. 25.
AccuWeather expects a brutal winter not just for Chicago, but for the entire Great Lakes region and west to the northern Plains states. In particular, Northwest Indiana and the west coast of Michigan could fare worst with lake-effect snow.
As for monster blizzards, they generally don't happen very often. As longtime Chicagoans know, the last blizzard to dump more than 20 inches of snow on the area before this year happened in January 1999.
But could another massive blizzard be coming next year? Abrams says there is no way to predict that.
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