winter bus

Weather Buzz for October 11th, 2017

Good morning!

The weekly EIA Inventory report is delayed one day this week, due to Columbus Day. It will be released tomorrow (Thursday) at 11AM Eastern, and I will have a write up shortly thereafter.

Our expectation is for another draw, as exports were strong once again during the first week of October.

Now, let’s talk about the weather.

NOVEMBER BAMWx.com spoke some about November this morning, and they continue to see positive signals for a pattern shift to cold near the end of October and to begin November. Here is their current look at November, via historic analogs, which also lines up with their November prediction they issued two weeks ago:

BAM Nov Analogs Match From 2wks Ago

Here is what MDA is calling for in November and December, and you will note their November projection is nearly identical to what I just shared from BAM:

MDANOVDEC

Now, let’s turn the spotlight towards winter and what BAM and MDA have been saying as of late.

WINTER: BAM discussed the recently updated POAMA models, during theire video this morning. POAMA stands for ‘Predictive Ocean Atmosphere Model for Australia’, and ‘The model ensemble distributions shown here provide a range of possible developments in sea surface temperature (SST) in the equatorial Pacific Ocean (NINO regions) and for the Indian Ocean.’ That is from their website.

Here is what the recent POAMA model run is showing for Dec-Jan-Feb, with the purple writing from BAMWx:

BAM Poama

The drawn circles over the upper Midwest region was when BAMWx.com meteorologist Michael Clark was discussing an impressive signal for a lot of snow in the circled regions. The North to South direction arrows is Clark illustrating how this set up is favorable for Arctic cold air intrusions into the United States. The red areas in the Gulf of Alaska that are also circled in purple signify a ridge set up where we want it to be set up, because on the back side of that ridge, you get a trough…and a trough signifies a stronger likelihood for cold.

One thing to consider, and that Clark told me he is still wary of, is the presence of the Pacific Jet stream in it’s current and zonal (West to East) manifestation. It has been a dominant player this month pursuant to the above normal temperatures many of us have been experiencing. If it remains strong, as it was last winter, that ridge you see in the Southeastern United States could become problematic for the East and Northeast. It’s still too early to know for sure, but by and large, the types of climate drivers you would like to have in place for a normal to below normal temperature winter for the United States still seem to be in place.

Clark ended his video today by saying, “A cold Plains, Midwest and Great Lakes winter is still on the table.”

THE QBO: MDA sent out a note on Tuesday, October 10th that grabbed my attention. Most of it was pretty heady, so I will pull out the plain speak.

There is a weather driver called the Quasi-Biennial Oscillation, or QBO. It is a ‘measure of stratospheric winds over the tropics, and this signal carries importance in winter due to its relationship to sudden stratospheric warming events and the development of cold blocking signals, when the QBO is in its negative phase.’ That, according to MDA.

Sudden Stratospheric Warming (or SSW events) take place over the Arctic pole region, and when this happens, the Polar Vortex weakens. As we have discussed several times, the Polar Vortex is an ever present cold air mass over the ‘north pole’. Consider the ‘north pole’ or Arctic region as a giant horse ranch, with a fence around it. Inside the fence are the horses, or in this analogy, the cold air mass.

When I say things like ‘the Polar Vortex is strong’, think of it as the fence that contains the horses, or the cold air mass, is strong. It is not going to let the horses out, and therefore the cold air stays trapped over the Arctic. When you hear terms like ‘weakening Polar Vortex’, that means the fence has a few holes in it and the horses can break out…or in our case, the cold air can break free from the north pole and make it’s way ‘down’ into the Northern Hemisphere.

A Sudden Stratospheric Warming (SSW) event is one factor that can weaken the fence, or weaken the Polar Vortex and allow to break free. When the QBO is in its negative phase, history shows us that SSW events are more likely to take place, which means the chances for Polar Vortex intrusions into the Continental United States (CONUS) are also more likely.

The second impact piece of the QBO that MDA referenced was the development of cold blocking signals. Again, this is a good thing for those of us in the propane industry, because it means the cold that does come down into the CONUS can get here and stay here.

More from MDA’s 10/10 report: “In its September report released last week, the QBO had a value of –15.28 m/s. The QBO is often one of the more reliable signals to forecast, as it has a fairly consistent pattern of oscillation; although, last year offered an exception to that normal rule. Despite last year’s pattern blip, we can have confidence in the signal further declining in its negative phase heading into the winter season. As such, we take a look at a set of analogs featuring a –QBO and also declining trends into the end of the year to determine what risk the signal has on the forecast for the upcoming winter season.

Here are those analogs: MDA QBO Analogs

A final line from MDA: “The current negative state for the signal and prospects that trends will continue further negative through the end of the year bring an increased probability for not only a colder than normal winter but also one which is more than a standard deviation colder than the 30 year normal.”

Please keep in mind that this was a look at just one of the potential climate drivers that appear to be on the table for this coming winter, which is the likely negative phase of the QBO.

As such, MDA, who accurately predicted each of the past two very warms winters, remains steadfast in their view on the ‘slightly colder than normal’ for this coming winter, with colder risks on the table.

When you look at the POAMA model that BAM discussed this morning, as well as the negative QBO discussion from MDA from yesterday, these are certainly positive harbingers for what may be ahead for us this winter.

Jon Miller
Marketing Representative for NGL Supply Wholesale in Tulsa Oklahoma. Follow me on twitter @PropaneBuzz

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