Can Snowcover There Change Our Winter Wx?

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

With our weather expected to be very quiet for the next week to 10 days or so, no big storms and occasional cold fronts that will cause the temperatures to go up or down depending on the day, I thought I’d share with you this study that was recently published from the University Of Georgia. I found it pretty interesting.

While we like to focus on Canada’s building snowcover during November to, perhaps, get a sense of the potential of colder than average airmasses to build up there, this study that was released suggests that perhaps we should be looking more to the other side of the world for future indications of what the winter may hold, at least from a temperature standpoint. Here is the article about the study.

In a nutshell the idea is that we should be looking up towards Siberia and Northern Europe to see how the snowcover is doing there, to perhaps then be in a spot where you can forecast colder or not as cold (relative to average) airmasses that may have or have not a tendency to build up. The study also goes on to speculate that this snowcover may have as much of or even a higher influence on the winter temperatures than the ENSO condition (La Nina/El Nino). Here is the money line though from the story…

“The findings have new significance for seasonal climate outlooks, which predict whether upcoming seasons will be colder, warmer, wetter or drier than normal. Years with extensive autumn snow in northwest Eurasia were associated with subsequent winter temperatures as much as seven degrees (Fahrenheit) lower near the center of North America. This difference is roughly the same as a one-month shift in climate.”

Notice the sentence concerning the center part of North America. While north of here (in North Dakota) typically if it’s real cold up there, it’s pretty darn cold down here. Also think about how the increased coldness would allow snowpack to build, allowing these colder airmasses to moderate more slowly, hence allowing our weather to be colder.

So I did some extra digging for you to try and find the snowcover maps up in the area that they’re looking at…and this is what I came up with for you…

Now your perspective is a bit different here.. the top right of each map would be northern Canada and Alaska…then you cross over the North Pole and then you head into Europe and Asia. The left map is the snowcover through earlier this week in 2010…and the right side map with the same projection represents snowcover in 2011. Your looking for the white shaded areas and notice that in Siberia, especially there does appear to be an increase in snowcover, compared to last year…and we know how well that turned out for us. Upon further digging I discovered that the snowcover there was actually below average for the 1st 3 weeks of OCT then there was a rapid increase in coverage during the last week of OCT. Anyway I find this stuff rather fascinating…

I also decided to dig up one of the long range models that got updated yesterday called the CFS…take a look at it’s forecast for the winter/spring season…

Notice that according to the model, we start out chilly in December then see big-time warming for the rest of the winter…if you’re a snowlover that is not the look you like to see.

As far as precipitation goes…take a look…notice that for the winter season, we’re kind of in no mans land…then in the spring it starts drying out…

Also notice how the model is already pretty wrong for November…and to be honest there really isn’t a lot of faith that meteorologists put into the model itself. Here is a look at last year’s forecast from the same model…

Why am I posting this from last year…take a look at how the model forecasted the temperatures for us…and what happened in reality in KC…compared to average…

DEC 2010…-2°

JAN 2011…-4.1°

FEB 2011…-3.5°

MAR 2011…-.3°

I’ll give the model, at best a fair grade for DEC…but JAN-MAR, in my opinion all receive D’s/F’s for accuracy. Like I said…it’s one VERY small piece of the puzzle.

Joe


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