What a difference a few days can make for winter forecasts this time of year. Last week, there was still a believe that November was going to be mild…but over the weekend, we saw things flip…to the point where now, there is growing consensus that the cold will arrive, and possibly set in, about the middle of November.
The snow and cold events throughout the eastern seaboard were impressive this weekend…snow smacking South Carolina and North Carolina this time of year, the Tennessee Valley, Maine, etc. These things have a tendency to be harbingers and can repeat.
There is a theory offered by Gary Lezak, a KC Meteorologist and someone that I know. He is a complete and total weather nut and I have found him to be one of the most accurate meteorologists I have ever encountered.
He came up with something called The LRC (Lezak’s Recurring Cycle)
-A unique weather pattern sets up every autumn between October 1st and November 10th
-“Long term” long wave troughs and ridges become established over the northern hemisphere
-The pattern cycles and repeats over and over again until it slowly weakens and falls apart late in the summer before a new pattern sets up in the fall
This was certainly the case last year, as what set up in October was around the rest of the year.
During the past year, I have spent a great deal of time speaking with friends of mine who are meteorologists and doing a great deal of reading on predictive weather and the things to look for. The biggest takeaways I have come with as it relates to how to get a feel for an upcoming winter are:
-Sea Surface temps in the pacific Northwest
-The Arctic Oscillation and whether it is negative or positive
-Siberian Snowfall levels in October
-El Nino, and that they are all different and where the warm water sets up is key, along with intensity
Given this ‘education’, I have been bullish for quite some time that we could see the factors setting up for another cold North American winter. The closer we get to winter, the clearer the factors become and the greater the likelihood that forecasts will be correct.
Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to another cold winter…and folks in the Southeast, this one could exceed last year’s cold.
Sudden stratospheric warming in this area causes the Polar Vortex, the cold mass of air that is always around the Arctic Circle, to weaken…and a weak Polar Vortex actually means the refrigerator door opens up and the cold pours down to the states. When it’s strong, it remains in the Arctic. Last year it was weak, and it’s showing signs of being weak again this year. Here is a more detailed definition:
“When the polar vortex is weak or “perturbed”, the flow of air is weaker and meanders north and south (rather than west to east). This allows a redistribution of air masses where cold air from the Arctic spills into the mid-latitudes and warm air from the subtropics is carried into the Arctic. This mixing of air masses also favors more storms and snow in the mid-latitudes.
During a weak polar vortex, high pressure occurs in the Arctic region and is referred to as the negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO). Air flows away from the high pressure Arctic. The north to south direction of the polar vortex carries cold Arctic air into the mid-latitudes of Eastern US, Europe and East Asia. Therefore it is cold across the Eastern US, Europe and East Asia during winters when the polar vortex is weak.”
So we’ve checkmarked one of the big winter clues here, when the Arctic Oscillation goes into its negative phase. One of the big factors that pushes the AO to the negative phase is heavy snow cover in Eurasia/Siberia. We know from recent reports that the snow cover there is as high as its been in recorded history for this time of year….so a pretty strong indication that forces will turn the AO negative…which will weaken the Polar Vortex and send it spiraling ‘out of control’….remember, when it’s ‘under control’ is when it is ‘strong’.
Now, here are some highlights from the weekend that I was able to gather:
Joe Bastardi: “I would get ready for some serious cold, and the early start, part of our biggest worry this winter opens the chance up for the wire to wire winter for the US”
WXRISK.COM: “FIRST let me start by saying that back in the third week of October I made the call that November 2014 will could end up being pretty mild . That forecast is going to be wrong. Badly wrong. But more importantly I hope that call I made for NOV 2014 did not influenced anybody into thinking that they have time for the winter preparations. And that is why I am making this post now. If you are involved in a weather sensitive or oriented business (or somebody in your family is ) and you need winter coverage because you do NOT want to be caught flatfooted like last year… You need to start talking to people about winter coverage right now. And I mean right now.”
FIRSTHANDWEATHER.COM: “The 2014-15 U.S. winter is shaping up to be another brutal winter with heavy snows and bitter cold for the central and eastern United States.” Click here for their complete forecast..and I STRONGLY recommend that you do. I really like this guy.
Here are a few maps from First Hand Weather:
For those of you in the Southeast, here is his rather ominous sounding prediction:
“This region is the area that I am most concerned about for this upcoming winter. We have a situation where the pattern is going to favor a lot of precipitation due to El Nino and a very cold pattern due to warmer waters in the northeastern Pacific and much higher than average Siberian snow cover, which will likely be responsible for a negative Arctic Oscillation. If all of this comes together, this region could have a winter that they have not experienced in decades. I put most of this region in much-below average temperatures and much-above average precipitation. Places that typically do not get snow and ice will get it, and places that typically only get small amounts of wintry precipitation will get a lot. I expect a very active and wet pattern across the southern states, and I expect the polar jet and the southern jet to interact in a way that could bring about a “snowmageddon” kind of winter along the East Coast. I expect numerous East Coast and Southeast winter storms. Places even as far west as the Southern Plains including Dallas will also likely be hit hard.”
Here are some maps for the near term from our friends at MDA:
European Model Ensembles actually favor a much colder scenario in the 11-15 day time frame. THe Euro is in the right, the American (which has been warmer for years) on the left:
We all know that long range forecasting is a challenge…but there are clues and weather drivers that we know about to arrive at some of these predictions…the closer we get, the more accurate they become.
The good news is, for this year, is that ABSOLUTELY NO ONE SHOULD BE CAUGHT OFF GUARD. Get full and stay full…those who did that last winter saw an amazingly profitable year.
As always, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me direct at 918-477-0533.