- Unbelievable temperature differential! AT 1 PM it is 39 near RDU Airport and 81 NW of Wilmington, NC. Down East ... It is 81 in New Bern and 45-50 across the Pamilico River.
- As stated yesterday, cold is King, we are already observing some ice mixed with rain near RDU Airport. Growing concerned that Winter Precip may take over between 3-4 PM instead of later.
- Arctic Blast tonight and tomorrow yields to moderate but gray dismal weather next week.
- Want more Winter? We are not done yet but finally starting to see its ammo run low.
- Celebrate Spring Now! - Why wait until March 21st. You can be officially in Spring RIGHT NOW :>) All you have to do is repeat after me: "I <Your Name> am a Weather Enthusiast". "Weather Spring" started March 1st....
Thursday, March 5, 2015
Wednesday, March 4, 2015
- Next 10 days is looking SAD as in Seasonal Affective Disorder. We are not going to see the sun very much :>(
- Freezing Rain/Sleet tomorrow night? Normally, I would downplay the possibility ...but... it is a bad idea to bet against a winner... The Cold has been winning lately....
- Yes ... we will make it to the mid-70's today ... then catch the flu tomorrow when record lows are reached that are 50+ degrees colder.
Saturday, November 29, 2014
Part of posting a forecast publicly is the combination of wanting to be right (even though details are general) and the fanfare that comes with it. Let's be real... No one wants to be wrong or experience the shame of apologizing to the audience.
The theme of this winter is "No Guts, No Glory" because my expectations are high based on the evidence. I believe that concern is warranted. Our region is surprisingly vulnerable to being shutdown and grocery stores being wiped out. The fact is that the gaps between severe winter events are far enough apart that authorities seem to not be interested in improving winter storm recovery procedures.
This forecast is not intended to be overly technical. You will get more facts and technicality than provided by the local media and learn a few things about the weather. The objective is to inform and educate.
Now... On with the program...
Not since the legendary winters of the late 70's have so many reasons supporting an exceptional season been in place. The basics of a colder, eventful winter are:
- Blocking: High Pressure dominating the Arctic. Systems over the Pole and near Greenland shunt colder air and the dominant storm track further south.
- Tropical Forcing: Some episodes of storminess near the International Dateline is needed to connect with Polar Westerlies to transport heat towards the Pole and send the cold south.
- Siberia/N. Hemisphere Snow Advance: Above average buildup of snow across Siberia and the High latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere during October is well correlated with colder winters.
|Ocean Surface Temp Anomalies |
Source: Plymouth Weather Center
- Gulf of Alaska and East Pacific Warming: This feature supports a Jet Stream alignment that maintains a ridge in the West and trough in the East.
- North Atlantic Cool Pool: An important difference from last winter. The cool pool supports a Greenland High Pressure system also known as. -NAO. Should this feature dominate as expected, extended periods of cold and snow/ice episodes will plague the Eastern Seaboard.
- El Niño: The warm area is migrating towards the Central Pacific. This feature is its weak/moderate state should add opportunities for Winter Storms.
- Eurasia: Sept and Oct were ranked 8 and 2!
- North America: 1 and 8.
- Northern Hemisphere: 3 Both Months.
- Prolonged Cold: Temperatures 3-5+ degrees below normal. Expect the trend towards higher electric/gas bills to continue. Packing an emergency kit in each car is recommended to ensure warmth and safety. Being sure that your home has a backup source of heat is also recommended.
- Snow/Ice: Actual snowfall forecasts for this region are problematic because of ice not being included in long term totals. 1976-77, our coldest winter, recorded 3.5" of snow. The prescence of El Nino should bend our Raleigh-Durham snow totals north of 1977-78 approximately 11" outcome. This season will be remembered for the Nor'easter's.
- Closing and Delays: Wake County Schools should expect 12-15 days of delays or closings.
- Be Supplied: Maintaining a larger reserve of food and other necessities (like Toilet Paper) so that 5-7 day stretches can be managed comfortably.
- Secondary Power/Heat: In 2003, a historic ice storm knocked out large stretches of the power grid for days. We are overdue to a similar disruption. Have a plan for what to do if electricity is knocked out. How will you and your family keep warm? Cell phone battery powered chargers are also very inexpensive.
- Be Home: As recently as last year, horror stories about taking 4-5 hours to drive 2 miles were common during a storm that started in the Triangle around noon. Keep the roads available for those who must work. Work from home if possible. Plan B would be to leave work before the first flake hits the ground. People learned last year how quickly a few flakes progressed to snow covered roads.
- Be Safe: Enjoying a good snowfall is a lot of fun. Wear proper boots and gloves. Avoid trees and other situations that snow or ice weight can lead to serious injury or death. Know where your sled is going before finding out using the school of hardknocks. Have fun but be smart...
Sunday, October 19, 2014
The Winter Season always has the most interest here in the VA/NC regions. Other seasons rarely contain events that shutdown schools and disrupt daily business as much as Winter. That being said... Central VA saw massive disruption in the 2000 and 2010's caused by:
- Hurricanes, Isabel and Irene.
- A Summer Derecho wreaked havoc on the power grid.
- Tropical Storm Gaston (Honorable Mention) damaged areas due to flooding
Winter 2013-14 featured harsh cold across the Eastern US and the more frequent forays into below 10 low temperatures than I remember as a child in the late 70's. Elsewhere, the Great Lakes still contained ice in the areas most hard frozen in JUNE. My theme last Winter was "Go Big or Go Home" based on that expected cold and associated disruption. At the weather level, many of you will know that these terms describe what kept temperatures so cold, so long : -NP, -EPO, +PNA, -AO. Those names describe observations made in the North Pacific, NE of Hawaii, Western US, Canada. Take note that the NAO (North Atlantic) was not a major player last winter.
Keep in mind the following principles:
- This is October: While changes are not expected, my final prognostication in late November is subject to change.
- Weather is a designed mechanism: The weather as a system that was designed by God. This means that study of that system must include an investigation into the purpose of each system. How does a layman apply this? Include economics in the process of observing weather.
- Warm Gulf of Alaska - Based on data in modern times, this is the key to every big winter in the NC/VA region. People like to rave about -NAO but... -EPO/+PNA is a stronger correlation to cold,
- Cool North Atlantic: This feature is a key reversal that is expected to introduce a dominant negative NAO into this season's weather equation.
- Developing El Nino: Pacific and Indian Ocean weather patterns and ocean temps are indicative of a weak/low moderate episode of West Based El Nino (called "Modoki"). This situation provides enough El Nino to keep the mean trough mostly in the East but not so much that rainy cool weather dominates over cold.
- Warm Gulf of Mexico - Feeds Nor'easters and Nor'easter wanna be 's :>)
and the long steady uptrend channel since 1991.
October snowcover better correlates with Winter Outcomes.
This data stops at 2013. I can tell you that the month started
at +4 on the scale.
Tuesday, July 8, 2014
Image Source: NOAA Earth Science Research Laboratory
1) Warmest temperatures relative to average are in Northern Canada and to a lesser extent, he SW US and NW Mexico.
2) Bermuda High dominate the East with warm not outrageously hot. Here in NC, 90's in summer are expected even though late May and early June is more prone to the 80's for highs.
3) The cool high plains is somewhat La Nina-like.
4) Warmth NE of Hawaii is supportive.of the Bermuda High that dominated our June.
Image Source: NOAA Earth Science Research Laboratory
The wettest area in an almost La Nina fashion is the Midwest and Great Plains. Severe drought in the Western US will certainly take its toll in the form of brutal heat (even by their standards) as their long term cyclical dryness feeds back. Not evident on the big map is the mini-drought which I fully expect to reverse over the next few weeks.
The State of "El Nino"
Data Source: The Long Paddock
My intention when seemingly poking fun at un-El Nino-like features when Ocean features and some atmospheric features indicate that one is making a good attempt to form is not to debate whether one is getting underway. It is important to pay attention to the rest of the Globe as well in order to appreciate God's fantastic weather machine and anticipate the effects of features that are not yet cooperating with El Nino influences.
Oceanic features clearly indicate a forming El Nino. The atmosphere is only partially cooperative. An atmospheric index used over the long term to diagnose the state of ENSO called the Southern Oscillation Index has mostly been negative during the past 30 days yet the big positive spike and lesser one during past few days contributed towards the running 30 and 90 day averages ing neutral. Therefore we should not be surprised to observe weather outcomes that are not typical of El Nino.
Medium Range Outlook
Image Source: University of Wisconsin SSEC
1) The Mega Ridge in the Southern Hemisphere is opposite of the summers of recent past when the feature was north of the Equator. Dominance of that system over Australia IS a El Nino feature when present over the long term.
2) Typhoon Neoguri has turned NE as it approaches Japan. This is a reliable 6-10 day predictor of a trough in the Eastern US.
3) Tropical energy surging towards a strong storm system that is traversing the westerlies. The location of contact is important because of likelihood of building a Ridge west of Hawaii that reverses the +EPO that is involved in promoting the current Bermuda High.
Based on the 3 features my expectation is to see a reversal of the heat and a dominance of 80's and increased precipitation here in Central NC and VA. in the 1-2 week timeframe.
Long Range - Through the end of Summer
1) Hottest part of the summer is over: Broadening wavelengths and the developing El Nino shift the mean trough towards the east coast. Expect more 80's through the last 1/2 of summer.
2) Big SE Coast Tropical Threat: Unless El Nino forces establish a full dominance ... warm SW Atlantic Ocean and an early summer tropical landfall in the same region are 2 predictors of late season trouble.
3) Big Winter ahead? - In general, weak to moderate El Nino's bring persistent cold and more snow than usual to Central NC and VA. If some other predictors line up ... then Winter 2014-15 would be very memorable. That being said... we need to observe that El Nino succeeds and does not hard reverse like 2005-06 thus destroying winter.
Monday, June 2, 2014
A New Regime?
Our regional weather dramatically shifted in summer 2013 into a mild cool pattern that rained buckets. Fall descended into Winter by the end of October. Around Thanksgiving was our first foray into the teens, destroying my salad garden. December - February was a roller coaster that averaged slightly below normal yet featured epic cold that we have not seen in 20 years. The spring that followed was the coldest in history in many locales. I had never seen so many episodes of snow and ice in March even growing up in VA!
Think back to the summers of 2007-12 when enbelieveable heat ruled the roost. 3 of 5 Winters were non-existent as well. The reason for warmth domination was a warm NW Atlantic that concentrated heat along the Eastern Seaboard and wrecked all but 2 of the Winters. Incidentally, the mega winters of 2009-10 and 10-11 were owed to energy being dissipated into space in the Arctic thereby tanking the Arctic Oscilation to unheard of depths. Unfortunately, heat flooded the mid-latitudes the following summers.
Now, the Great Lakes still have ice in it, now Meterological summer has begun and lows are in the 50 's! The big question is, what does the rest of the summer hold? Are we truly in a new weather pattern or will the ways of the late 2000's return? How about Hurricanes? Except for Irene, NC has enjoyed a respite.
Summer points to ponder.
To El Nino or La Nada ?
El Nino has certainly gotten in the news. Some in the scientific community along with the media ran a hype machine that touted the expectant El Nino as becoming a El Toro. However, the ELEPHANT in the room seems to be an empty hope for 1997-98 like warming instead of a truly scientific search for what is really going on.
The ocean temperatures seem to clearly indicate an attempt to generate an El Nino as all 4 zones have gone warm. Take note of the dual feed of warmer than average water aimed at the Central Pacific while cold is squeezing the warmth in the east. That alignment makes Winter's crystal ball turn white...
Image from Plymouth State Weather Center.
Some might point out the warm expanse across the region must mean that a strong El Nino is coming. Take note of the source region of the warmth in 1997 in the EAST, not Central like this one is headed. Also note the cool Gulf of Alaska that served as a harbringer of the mild winter that swept much of the country.
IF El Nino was going to be strong then we would also be looking at persistent negative SOI. That measure is used as a tool to determine the trend of the atmosphere. Will it fight the warm water and squash the oscillation 2006 style? Or will it eventually line up to deliver its weatger effects downstream into North America. This graph uses data from The Long Paddock to illustrate what has occurred since Jan 1.
Persistent negatives indicate an El Nino. Note the descent that reversed in April, hit a quick low in May and now back in positive territory. The sloshing back and forth is indicative of a Central and West Pacific based El Nino. This final piece of evidence is very important.
Summer Weather Pattern and Temperatures
Ocean temperature and existing drought are often great predictors in our region of how the summer will play out. Phenomena like El Nino and La Nina are capable of ruling the roost when strong and persistent enough but both are more influential in the winter when weaker.Amazon - Shop. Connect. Enjoy. All from Earth's Biggest Selection.
The back and forth of weather virtually guarantees somebody is going to be hot/dry, another cool/wet, and often a mild region. This drought map sends a loud and clear message about who will stay hot and dry, the Western US. Due to ridging out West and over TX, it leaves us east of the Mississippi in the trough zone (on average).
The message of the Ocean has a sinister side to it. A cooling North Atlantic does not promote large numbers of hurricanes nor persistent Bermuda Highs. Sound good? YEAH!!! BTW: I think that we in NC and VA are in the mild zone. That being written ... warm water close to the East Coast loves hurricanes. This image is provided by the Plymouth State Weather Center.
An El Nino usually squashes Hurricane Season. As previously discussed and ilustrated, this event is NOT strong and being west based tends to sway back and forth in terms of influence. In my opinion, the door will be open for Hurricane development that would otherwise not be there in 1997-98 East based El Nino's. An argument can be made any year for NC vulnerability. The warmth close to the coast is double jeopardy due to risk of Hurricane Fran-like strengthening upon approach to land.
1) Central NC and VA will be cooler than average by 1-2 degrees.
2) The back and forth nature of the growing west based El Nino should yield a period of upper 90's that would likely be provided by a cool High that overstayed its welcome.
3) Historically, coastal warm water brings bad news. In addition, TX ridging and a cool Gulf of Mexico lead me towards favoring the activity that is near or hits land to shift to the Eastern Seaboard.
4) I am having a hard time seeing next winter because the Crystal Ball keeps getting covered in frost and white inside. ..
Sunday, April 27, 2014
The Official Winter Forecast specified the following characteristics:
1) Harsh Cold but temperature deviation from Winter only finishing between -1 and -2: I knew that the season was going to be bad when Thanksgiving week lows in the teens destroyed my winter salad garden. However the short periods of extreme warmth led to an overall Dec-Feb anomaly near -1. It does not seem fair that the overall season "looks" near normal despite the suffering. This is clearly a case of the "Devil being in the details".
2) School Disruption totaling 7-10 delays, early dismissals, and closings: My bold forecast was not bold enough. I lost count after 10.
3) Classic "Heart of Winter" Season ends near Valentine's Day: This season chose not to end in the fashion of legendary late 1970's winters. I suspect active Siberian Volcanoes and the rumblings of the pending El Niño combined to extend the season. March was terribly cold and featured multiple rounds of snow and ice in VA and NC. March cold was downright historic!
4) Ice would be the bigger story in NC than Snow: This prognostication was due to the warm North Atlantic surface temperatures that simply do not favor storm types and tracks that are big snow makers in Central NC and VA. By March, the rise of the Subtropical Jet and effect of horrible cold in the 50-60E, 40-50N region had reversed the situation. It appears very likely that the next Winter will be much different in terms of regional snowfall than this one (HINT HINT). Sleet and Freezing rain were definitely the dominant winter precip this year. Despite that fact, RDU reported about 7" of snow which is near the long term average.
Now that this winter has passed, I am already been asked about 2014-15. See my answer below:
IF El Niño plays out the way that I believe, then we can expect a Winter known for persistent cold but far less severity than this year due to the lowest temperatures being 15-20 rather than -5 to single digits! SNOW will be a much deeper player next year, particularly in VA.