Saturday, January 1, 2011

Revised Winter Outlook: Have we yet begun to shiver?

Job 37:10 From the breath of God ice is made, And the expanse of the waters is frozen. (NASB)

My previous outlook (part I and II ) seems to have been on the right track in terms of concerns for a nasty cold outbreak and a season remembered for its misbehavior.  Unfortunately the well known warm signals seemed to obscure the fact that the "cold outbreak" has no encompassed nearly all of December and is poised to return in January.  Perhaps my experimental idea regarding hurricane paths and potential winter implications could have some merit?

I have been concerned that there may be no current means to accurately predict winters like 1935-36 (Raleigh's snowiest on Record) and the legendary cold 1976-77 (coldest on Record).  The 1976-77 season is known to have occurred despite what would statistically correlate to a mild winter based on Low AAM, La Nina, and a Cold PDO. It is known that High Latitude blocking patterns like the Negative North Atlantic Oscillation (-NAO) were the dominant climate players.  Below is how a -NAO correlates with winter temperature anomalies.  Keep in mind that the orange areas (positive correlation) will be cold when the NAO is negative.
The negative NAO and AO (Arctic Oscillation) patterns are reloading for January.  By mid-month we will be under siege once again by Arctic air that will be colder than what we experienced in December and more extreme compared to averages.

One seemingly unlikely clue that extreme cold is coming is the relationship between Australia and our weather.  Last year the northern portion of the country was  nearly drowned by a their rainy season (despite El Nino).  This year's deluge has affected over 200,000 people and is described as a flood of Biblical Proportions

Larry Cosgrove, WEATHERAmerica,  has demonstrated the synergy produced when convection in the W Pacific interacts with the Jet Stream.  A chilly result of the partnership is the propulsion of Siberian air over the pole into N America and associated extreme weather.  The relationship is clearly seen below.
Pineapple Express usually associated with El Nino races across Pacific.
Source: Univ of Wisconsin SSEC

Therefore my previous Winter Outlook that did not take good ideas far enough is now null and void.  January is now expected to follow the pattern seen in 35-36 and 76-77 and be worse relative to average.  The good news is that in both cases February was near average and spring came quickly in March and was WARM. Here is an average of Jan 36 and 77.
As one who hates the cold I am not real happy about forecasting it.  Could it be that we are reaping the effect of the prolonged solar minimum and uptick in volcanic activity?  Next week I will be addressing some of the historic global extremes of 2010-11 and more important!  the stormy weather pattern reaching the eastern seaboard near Jan 7.

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