Friday, January 2, 2009

Happy New Year!

I am back, sorry for the quiet spell.

Many of you know my full time job involves retail -- and well -- it completely takes over your life around the holidays.

So Happy New Year -- I personally am very excited to see 2008 go and am very hopefuly for a positive 2009!

OK -- so what will 2009 hold in store in terms of weather?

One thing that was exciting about 2008 was the weather.

Major hurricanes, incredible extremes -- such as snow in New Orleans and Las Vegas, record snows from Spokane to Bismarck to the Great Lakes.

A few major tornadoes in the midwest, tremendous flooding as well.

Once in a lifetime drought conditions over the southeast.

I honestly don't recall too much heat in 2008. I know there were some hot spells in a few areas, but not that covered a large portion of the country for an extended period of time that I can recall.

On to current events...

We need to keep our eyes on Alaska and northwest Canada.

Current temperatures up there are 30 to 50 below across a very large expanse of real estate. Some locations have a forecasted low in the 50 to 60 below zero range.

That air will eventually move -- but will it break off and slide south and east?

And if so, how much will it moderate.

Typically those air masses come down the spine of the Rockies and put the eastern two thirds of the country in the deep freeze for a few days.

However, there are some other weather parameters to watch and some questions that need to be answered.

How long will the cold persist? What are the upper level winds doing? Are there any areas of low pressure forming that would drag that cold down? What is happening between here and there?

Basically all of Canada, and most of the northern tier if US states have snow pack. So that helps create a large and cold air mass already.

Given that, if the bitterly cold air does break off and slide southeast, it will not moderate much, since it will already traveling over fairly cold air.

Most of southern Canada, and places like northeast Montana and North Dakota are in the single digits above and below zero.

Here are some recent Friday morning temps from that the Great White North.

  • Bettles, AK (-44°)
  • Fairbanks, AK (-45°)
  • McGrath, AK (-49°)
  • Mayo, Canada (-54°)
  • Anchorage, AK (-14°)
  • Fort Yukon, AK (-54°)

    Current long-term forecast models are keeping this extreme cold in place through at least the end of next week.

    So if it persists that long, I think the chances of us seeing some impact from it are pretty high.

    This is just a hunch from past winter forecasting, but if this bubble of cold air decides to make a move south, it would impact us here in the lower 48 states in the January 18-25 time frame.

    I will watch it and try to post updates every few days.

    1. I really enjoy these kinds of posts Chris. It helps in understanding why and how the weather does what it does. Now, maybe we won't all be so surprised when another 'cold-snap' decends on us in the 'lower 48'.

    2. I would like to know more about clouds. I am trying to learn to name them right now and unfortunately they change so quickly I am not sure if I know what I am looking at. Any suggestions?

    3. Just an anectdotal report, meteor observer Bruce McCurdy traveled to Yellowknife, near the Arctic circle on the morning of the 3rd to watch the peak of the Quadrantid meteor shower. The temp was -43C (-45F, like it makes a difference).
      Due to the conditions, they had to observe through the "meteor roof" of their vehicle and were rewarded with 135 Quadrantids out of 1541 total meteors in about 3.7 hours.
      I often include meteor counts in my comments; you can see NJ-HN-8

      Meteor Wayne

    4. PS, that was 135 out of 151 total meteos. Sorry about the typing....