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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Weather patterns over the Canadian Rockies are expected to pump artic air into Tennessee over the next couple of months, a University of Tennessee climatologist said Tuesday.

 “What we are seeing is a ‘polar express’ situation sitting up here,” said Dr. Ken Orvis, an assistant professor in the UT-Knoxville geography department.

“It looks as though we will have a good possibility of arctic air masses moving quickly into the area, off and on, for the next couple of months,” Orvis said.

 With temperatures below normal, precipitation may be too, in part because the Atlantic Ocean is in a cool cycle, Orvis said.

 In a strong warm cycle, air over the mid-Atlantic forms a ridge that guides moisture from the Gulf of Mexico on a path directly over Tennessee, Orvis said.

Absent warm Atlantic waters, the ridge doesn’t form and moist air out of the Gulf flows south and east of Tennessee, he said.

 “We may be cold but drier,” Orvis said.

 This year’s El Nino, the cyclical weather phenomenon caused by warm ocean currents in the Pacific, may not affect Tennessee’s weather outlook.

 “The El Nino looks like it is weakening fairly rapidly at this point,” Orvis said. “The question is, will it keep going or not.”

 Contact: Dr. Ken Orvis (423-974-2418)