The latest 2 week outlook from NOAA’s NCEP looks quite warm and has created a little buzz, but so has some other long range outlooks. This map is not a measure of how much warmer than average, but a 90% chance it will be ‘above normal’. We just came off of a record setting December weekend with two days in a row in the 70s. It is NOT the first time this has happened and can only be attributed to El Nino. That is a formidable force that will continue to push yet another warm up Christmas week, but ironically that may be a good thing for fellow snow lovers. At least for a more realistic winter to return.
When I plotted the temperatures through the weekend, including our records Saturday and Sunday, two things jumped out.
- Those two days were the peak of the tend
- Most of this warm December was just moderately warm.
This is important because it ties directly into the jets stream and El Nino. That force in the Pacific increased the upper level winds and locked the cold air up in the arctic. Ice is recovering at a very fast pace there. But as we get surges of even warmer air, that buckles the jet stream.
“What goes up, must come down”
When a ridge builds in the east, cold air drops down in the west. That is why snow is doing very well in the Rockies. But fellow snow hounds locally want that in the east. We will have our first taste of near normal cold temperatures this weekend, even snow showers and a coating in the western Maryland mountains. But it will not last long, and this was something I discussed in my winter outlook. Cold air will have trouble lasting long with El Nino blazing. Compare the jet stream this weekend to Christmas Eve. Yes, Rudolf might be needed for a storm, but we will be on the warm side. There is a better chance for wintry weather in Dallas (if you are traveling)
To get the cold to hold, we will need some help from other patterns like the North Atlantic Oscillation. But that has not been helping much, as I explained in my Winter 2015-2016 Outlook. That ‘should’ change in January and February. Yes, for the rest of December, it might be tough for many of us to buy a snowflake. It might even seen like a pipe dream with another surge of warm air on the way. However, the upper air pattern is showing signs of hope. You may not want to see another warmup (some of you do), but the dramatic buckling in the jet stream shows that cold air does exist, and it is pushing south. All we need is it to shift east, and it should.
Note: There are many apps and weather web sites that show two week+ temperatures. This product, GEFS Ensemble, I show almost daily provides that as well. I do not like to show the second week as it is too far out to be considered accurate. Also, if you read along with me lat week, I pointed out that we would hit 70°F long before the models showed it. That is because of limitations it has. But not every warm up ends up warmer than first shown. That’s why I like to wait until we are within a week to get into more specific details.
Another way to look at this is watching the eastern warm up push farther north. Getting the above normal sea surface temperatures to push farther north. We actually need ocean water in the north Atlantic to be warmer than normal to help develop that blocking pattern that would help lock cold air in the eastern US.
North Atlantic Oscillation Index:
If you want cold to hold in the east, you want near or below zero values. This forecast shows a trend toward zero or neutral around New Years. The weather pattern should break down and return closer to normal by the end of this month.
There is plenty of cold air locked in the arctic. The sharp ridges and troughs in the jet stream show that it can and will be tapped. This NAO outlook trending lower is a good sign for better chances to get more cold air in January. Also note that El Nino may have already peaked. Should the warm pocket of water shift more into the central Pacific, then the entire pattern has a chance to shift.
Faith In The Flakes: It Will Snow… Eventually
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