Thursday, January 23, 2020

Update - January 23, 2020

The active weather regime continues across the central U.S., and has impacted parts of the high plains.  In the previous post I did on the 16th (you can read that one by clicking here), I discussed the MJO that was currently in progress and was probably responsible for the uptick in storms at that time, and that it should continue to provide opportunities for another 10 to 14 days.  I discussed one "small" opportunity due about Tuesday (and it did happen) and perhaps a more impactful storm in the 24th/25th time frame.  There had been little help in forecast models as most had not indicated much at all (at that time).  The possible 24th/25th storms is NOT the one bringing rain and snow to north central/southeast Kansas, Iowa, eastern Nebraska this Thursday afternoon.  That particular possibility of an impactful storm is tied to what "might" happen early next week.  So, that appears to be off schedule by 2 to 3 days.

Before I discuss that possible storm - and beyond....

Here is a map of the estimated precipitation during this past 7 day period....

As expected in that previous post I did, Oklahoma, southeast Kansas and Texas got quite a bit of (mainly rain) during that period.  Farther west, as expected, amounts were quite a bit less but at least there was decent moisture (January-winter standards).  With that additional moisture, a limited area of the drought had improved (mainly eastern fringes).  Here is the latest assessment...

BTW, according to the Climate Prediction Center there won't be much improvement for the High Plains through April.  Texas is another story with removal likely (which would have impacts on the high plains weather this spring).  I'll try and touch on that outlook in later postings when I get an opportunity (free time)....

Looking at this afternoon's satellite image....

An active Madden Julian Oscillation continued impacting the upper level flow across the Pacific and ultimately into the U.S..  It can be partly depicted on the image with the bright colors in the bottom left.  The poleward transport of latent heat release is mirrored on the southern hemisphere side.  The position and intensity of the MJO is resulting in increased momentum in the jet stream impacting the U.S. storms and also into western Mexico.

There is quite a bit of uncertainty going forward with this MJO (that has been pretty robust), depending on what computer model schemes are used.  One, provided by the CPC, has it dying out in about the current position (Western Pacific).

Other schemes have the MJO progressing into phase space 8, 1 and even 2 over the next 3 weeks (influences into the western Hemisphere and Indian Ocean)...

So, going forward for the next month there is quite a bit of uncertainty using the MJO as a predictor.  If the CFS MJO forecast (the image above) is anywhere near accurate, the composites of past MJO's in the predicted phase spaces would yield an increasing threat of cold for February (but not much suggestion for precipitation). Then, using the argument about a cycling pattern (I'm a big proponent)  still points to an active and colder than average February.  However, relying on that technique (soley) led me down the wrong path for December (and it looks like January too) as far as temperatures.  Back in the fall/early winter I suggested that the period December through February would be near to below normal on temperatures.  So far, it's not anywhere close!  If February does end up much colder than normal, then the period of DJF just might average out to what I expected.  But now I'm having reservations about February being that cold.  I'm still going to stick with it with the most likely time for really cold weather from about the 8th through 20th.  I'll adjust that thinking in a couple of weeks.

In addition to the above, the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation have been strongly positive (suggesting the really cold air has been bottled up across the higher latitudes).  Those indices are not forecast (accuracy is often poor) to dip much - although that could change as we get into February.

Finally, back to the previous post about the potentially impactful storm for the 24th/25th (which now appears to be early next week instead).  Computer models, at this point this Thursday afternoon, will be of  NO help as their solutions have been all over the place.  My gut feeling is that there will still be a storm.  The million dollar question is will be across Nebraska?  Eastern Kansas?  Oklahoma and east? Or as far west as the high plains?  I still think the high plains could be a target initially and intensifying going east.  But then the question begs "what type of precip?".  At this point, since the potential storm energey is WAY out across the Pacific, there is just no predictability.  Choose your most trusted weather source for local weather and start paying attention later this weekend for details.  I won't have a chance to add anything to this blog until early next week.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

Update - January 16, 2020

In the previous post I did on the 3rd (you can read that by clicking here) I discussed that most of the high plains would be dry through about the 14th through 17th.  For the high plains there wasn't much from the storm that occurred a week ago, but eastern Kansas got a pretty good amount, AGAIN!  Here is the precipitation during the past 14 days....

In that previous posting I also mentioned, that despite computer models being dry through the 20th, that there might be a pretty good opportunity around the 14th through 17th period.  Well, it looks like that is going to pan out pretty nicely! The current storm that is poised to bring rain, ice and a little snow will overspread much of the area through Friday (ending quickly west to east).  Check your favorite weather source for the forecast on this particular storm. Some areas (especially across Oklahoma, southeast Kansas and Texas) are going to get quite a bit of moisture (inches)!  Even parts of the high plains will get measurable moisture (mostly a tenth to a third of an inch - and heavier as you go east).

Here was the satellite from earlier today....

It is a pretty complicated pattern right now with, what I think, is a pretty good contribution to the atmospheric flow from a decent Madden Julian Oscillation (you can see part of that in the bottom left corer - bright colors).   The positioning of the MJO should benefit the high plains for about 10 days to 2 weeks, as far as precipitation.  The opportunities are from the current storm; a small one around Tuesday of next week (give or take a day); and perhaps an even bigger and impactful storm around the 24th/25th time frame!  Here is the latest outlook for precipitation amounts from the Weather Prediction Center through next Thursday.....

One aspect of this pattern is the really cold weather has either been bottled up across the higher latitudes of our hemisphere or has spilled into the Europe and Siberian side.  That might not hold up much going forward.  I'm feeling that the balance of January and for much of February (at least the first 20 days) will be colder than average.  That is NOT saying there won't be mild days, because there will.  But averaging it all out that period should be south of normal.  More on that later as that "could" mean quite a bit of snow during that period too.

I'll try and update again around the 22nd.

Friday, January 3, 2020

Update - January 3, 2020

Happy New Year - and hopefully it will not be a brutal one weatherwise!

December just ended with a very beneficial storm system for a lot (not all) of the high plains.  Here is a map of estimated precipitation:

For a December storm - it was BIG as far as precipitation!  For the cold season very little will be lost to evaporation so this should carry into late Winter, at least.  Will there be more?

In the last posting I did on the 11th (you can read that by clicking here), I said:

Winter (through the end of February) - overall dry with numerous outbreaks of cold, some bitterly.  Now having said overall dry - it will take only a couple of significant storms that "hit" just right and they could bring precipitation amounts to closer to normal.  But, that's an IF they are efficient producing storms.  I do think there will be several of those significant storms.  But there will likely be prolonged dry stretches, with wind unfortunately.

Early Spring - I would count on at least a couple of significant winter storms (i.e, blizzards).

So, there you go.  We just had a significant storm that "hit" just right.  Will there be another?  Most likely but it may be a while.  Plus, the next "big" one could be white with wind.  I should say will be.  It is winter after all.

The precipitation did improve drought conditions.  Here is the latest drought map:


My "gut feeling" for December (temperatures) was  a huge bust!  I thought that December would be colder than normal.  Far from it!  I also thought that significant outbreak of cold would arrive across the high plains the last few days of December and into the first week of January.  NOT!  Now, I did feel pretty good about that feeling a couple of weeks ago.  If you didn't see or hear, Beetles Alaska had all time cold for December and the coldest I saw there was 61 below zero!  Good lord!  That would have been the source to plunge the U.S. into a DEEP freeze.  But, the overall pattern across the northern hemisphere is NOT acting as I thought it would or expected.  So the brutal cold stayed north.  That pattern not behaving could impact my initial thought for the three month winter period as mentioned above in blue.

I'm trying to figure out what is going on.  I might have found an answer, or partial.

The following map of ocean temperature anomalies shows some very interesting data:

First, the warming across the northern Pacific has trended cooler, which isn't too unusual for winter.  The ocean temperatures supporting a weak El Nino continued, especially at the dateline.  So really nothing earth shaking.  But look at the ridiculous warm anomaly east of Australia and the ridiculous cold anomaly west of Australia.   That dipole is crazy!  


That could be partly responsible for the dryness and heat that has persisted down there for some time.  It could also be feeding into the overall hemispheric flow aloft.  That just a speculation.  That same dipole could also be responsible for  a developing MJO across the Maritime Continents .   That location, for January, would favor warmer than normal temperatures across the eastern half of the U.S. but also would favor a period or two of precipitation chances across the high plains going through much of January.

So, even though computer models are suggesting DRY through at least the 20th of January, I suspect that there might be a pretty good opportunity around the 14th-17th period.  Anything before that, if it occurred, would be very minimal as the gulf moisture source is cutoff for now.

It's becoming increasing difficult to update this blog, again as it's on my own time and my own time is limited.  If I every retire from the NWS...well updating this blog daily might be possible.

I'll try again around the 13th.