Will it snow? Channel 9 meteorologists break down what to expect this winter

CHARLOTTE — As the holidays draw closer and the temperatures drop, Charlotteans have started asking an all-too-familiar question: Will it snow this season?

It used to snow in Charlotte often, and many remember the postcard-looking images of snow that used to blanket the Queen City. But if you were hoping for a trip down memory lane this season, unfortunately, the chances of that happening aren’t great.

[READ MORE: Sugar Mountain Ski Resort makes enough snow to open for season]

Below, Channel 9′s team of meteorologists explains the ingredients that create winter weather and what that looks like for Charlotte this season.

(WATCH: Winter’s temperature forecast with Meteorologist Ashley Kramlich)

When it comes to temperature, meteorologists look globally. You’ve heard Channel 9 talk about El Niño and La Niña -- they shift the Pacific Jet Stream. In La Niña years, like we are seeing now, it traps the cold Canadian air and keeps it locked up north.

That keeps our local temperatures warm in the winter.

This season, there is a 60-70% chance we will have a warmer winter than usual.

(WATCH: Winter’s precipitation forecast with Meteorologist John Ahrens)

If it were summertime, we’d be looking at a serious drop in lake levels. That’s because we are in a drought.

The last serious rainfall we tracked was on Sept. 1, and there’s no sign of that changing for the winter weather.

Of course, snow needs precipitation to form, but that “good” packing snow also needs to encounter dry air.

So the good news is that if we do get snowfall, it will be great for snowmen and snowball fights.

(WATCH: Examining previous snow trends with Meteorologist Keith Monday)

Warm air and drought mean not much snow again, but what about Charlotte’s past? Long-time Charlotteans reminisce about the snow the city used to get, so Channel 9 dug through years of data to explain the big change we’re seeing.

Channel 9 looked over yearly snowfall data going back to the 1980s and Charlotte did see more snow back then. From 1980 to 1989, the Queen City had four years where it saw yearly snow totals of at least 10 inches.

But since then, the “snow machine” has been turned down.

From 1990-1999, not a single year had 10 inches total of snowfall. In fact, the highest snow total in that decade was the winter of 1997-1998, where the city only had five inches of snow.

Since the year 2000, Charlotte has had just three years with an annual snowfall of 10 inches or more.

(WATCH: Examining current snow trends with Chief Meteorologist Steve Udelson)

Of course, average snowfall depends entirely on where you live.

From the mountains of North Carolina to the midlands of South Carolina, the Charlotte area has such a climatologically-diverse community. There’s no easy answer to the question “Will it snow?”

While not every storm is the same, in a La Niña pattern like this, warm and dry is the overwhelming theme.

So who is most likely to see snow?

In any given situation, we focus on the mountains and the Interstate 40 corridor -- that’s where we’ll see snow and possibly a wintry mix of snow, sleet and freezing rain.

As we work our way out of the elevations, down the I-40 corridor down to I-85, that’s where we see that mix of snow and rain. Again, every storm is different, so that line between rain and snow will vary.

Heading down through Charlotte, especially south in the midlands of South Carolina and east of town, typically warm air gets in and mostly what falls is rain.

So, while we won’t say it’s not going to snow, we should consider ourselves lucky if it does.

(WATCH PREVIOUS: Will it snow this year? WSOC’s long-range weather forecast)