Joe’s Weather Blog: So how’s this winter going for you? (TUE-1/16)

I thought today’s blog should step back a bit and take a look at the winter overall…here in KC and nationally to see how we’re doing. We’re now halfway through “meteorological” winter which differs from seasonal winter in that meteorological winter runs from 12/1-end of February while seasonal winter goes more according to what many of you may relate to…Dec 21-23 or so through March 21-23 or so. It’s a little weird I realize but it was done mostly with statistics in mind I think because by the time you add up some of the astronomical seasons the number of days will vary from 89-93 or something like that. Anyway, I’ll get more into that in the discussion.



Forecast:

Today: Variable clouds and bitterly cold with highs around 10°. There are a few random flakes out there as the cold air is squeezing the clouds of their moisture. There is a wave coming down from IA this morning that may affect the MO side more later this morning with clouds and a few areas of light snow.

Tonight: Sort of another tricky forecast because of the potential of clouds and also when wind shift towards the southwest. Once the wind shift occurs temperatures may flat-line or even come up towards daybreak. IF we have clouds in the evening we won’t event drop that much to begin with. Let’s go for a range of 0 to -5° around 10PM-2AM or so…then coming up “a bit” towards daybreak.

Wednesday: Mostly sunny and not as cold with highs into the 20s

Thursday: Highs in the 30s as we melt away the snow in the non-shaded areas



Discussion:

Every so often I like to see where we’ve been as a season overall…and with this being about the half-way point of the winter…I thought today would be a good day to look at the temperature stats…moisture stats…snow stats etc for our area…and give you an idea of the country as a whole. Again for the point of this discussion let’s use “meteorological” winter as the basis of this conversation

First an explanation of why us weather peeps like to use a “different” definition for when winter is etc…we actually do this for all the “seasons”. Spring (for us) starts on 3/1..summer on 6/1 and fall on 9/1. What can I say…we’re “different” and number obsessed (or at least some of us are ;) )

This is information from the National Climatic Data Center…

“You may have noticed that meteorologists and climatologists define seasons differently from “regular” or astronomical spring, summer, fall, and winter. So, why do meteorological and astronomical seasons begin and end at different times? In short, it’s because the astronomical seasons are based on the position of Earth in relation to the sun, whereas the meteorological seasons are based on the annual temperature cycle.

People have used observable periodic natural phenomena to mark time for thousands of years. The natural rotation of Earth around the sun forms the basis for the astronomical calendar, in which we define seasons with two solstices and two equinoxes. Earth’s tilt and the sun’s alignment over the equator determine both the solstices and equinoxes.

The equinoxes mark the times when the sun passes directly above the equator. In the Northern Hemisphere, the summer solstice falls on or around June 21, the winter solstice on or around December 22, the vernal or spring equinox on or around March 21, and the autumnal equinox on or around September 22. These seasons are reversed but begin on the same dates in the Southern Hemisphere.

Because Earth actually travels around the sun in 365.24 days, an extra day is needed every fourth year, creating what we know as Leap Year. This also causes the exact date of the solstices and equinoxes to vary. Additionally, the elliptical shape of Earth’s orbit around the sun causes the lengths of the astronomical seasons to vary between 89 and 93 days. These variations in season length and season start would make it very difficult to consistently compare climatological statistics for a particular season from one year to the next. Thus, the meteorological seasons were born.

Meteorologists and climatologists break the seasons down into groupings of three months based on the annual temperature cycle as well as our calendar. We generally think of winter as the coldest time of the year and summer as the warmest time of the year, with spring and fall being the transition seasons, and that is what the meteorological seasons are based on. Meteorological spring includes March, April, and May; meteorological summer includes June, July, and August; meteorological fall includes September, October, and November; and meteorological winter includes December, January, and February.

Meteorological observing and forecasting led to the creation of these seasons, and they are more closely tied to our monthly civil calendar than the astronomical seasons are. The length of the meteorological seasons is also more consistent, ranging from 90 days for winter of a non-leap year to 92 days for spring and summer. By following the civil calendar and having less variation in season length and season start, it becomes much easier to calculate seasonal statistics from the monthly statistics, both of which are very useful for agriculture, commerce, and a variety of other purposes.”

So now you know…

So where are we as a winter in KC…well we know it;s been cold for about 3+ weeks now…after a very mild start. If my memory is correct we were about 7.3° ABOVE average before we flipped around the 22nd-23rd or so of December…so far this month we’re 6.7° below average and today will knock that down about another degree or so.

For the winter overall…12/1-yesterday…here is where we stand.

There we are down at #31. Strangely look which winter is just above us through the halfway point…last winter! That one surprised me and I double checked the numbers to make sure it was correct. Here is some additional data…HIGH/LOW/AVG/PRECIP

From a moisture standpoint…so far the results aren’t so great…it should be noted that the period from DEC>FEB is our driest on average.

and from a snow standpoint…we’ve nickle and dimed ourselves to death..and we’re now up to 4.7″ of snow so far. Snow though is a weird one…because we get snows in March (sometimes) and we add that to our snow totals for the “snow” season…but at any rate we’re at 4.7″…which is about halfway up and down in the rankings (58th to be exact). Here is how the state of KS looks so far for snow totals…via wx.graphics.com

and on the MO side…

and regionally…

Actually many areas across the northern Plains are below average when it comes to snow. By the way…if you want the snow…the Great Lakes lake effect regions almost always deliver!

For the nation as a whole…here how things are trending..cold eastern half and warm western third.

Notice though over the next 10+ days…there will be a shift in what we’ve seen so far over the last 45 days or so.

The data above indicates more of a return to warm in the eastern third of the US and a shift (finally) to cooler weather out west.

I’m still not overly thrilled about the weekend storm for anything snowlovers would be interested in.. We will warm-up though into Saturday and I think even Sunday as well before we drop again later Sunday into Sunday night. A couple of days in the 50s are very possible this weekend but unless the next surface low pressure areas is about 200+ miles farther south or southeast…this isn’t going to be a big deal of us in terms of wintry weather. We may also get dry-slotted knocking down the rain amounts too but that will depend on the track of the surface low…on the plus side of things…there will be some decent moisture for the storm to work with when it gets here on Sunday…and there may be some fast moving thunderstorms helping the cause. Some backside snows are possible…again depending on the specific track of the storm.

Still no good chances of significant snows (3″+) coming our way in the foreseeable future…just like the whole winter really.

Our feature photo comes from Sandy Willis via Twitter. Nice sunset from the other night!

I may take a blog day off tomorrow or Thursday. Depends if I can come up with anything interesting.

Joe

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