How Much Longer Can It Last?

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I was thinking of my old friend DH today…and how absolutely cranky he’d be getting right about now. Perhaps, knowing him, he would’ve been cranky over the last week or so. Why, simply because, at least so far, our winter isn’t really a winter yet. This is the season he really enjoyed from a forecasting standpoint. The potential or threat of snow really got him going, and as you know, for the last 6 weeks or so, that threat and/or potential has never really materialized so far. Sure we’ve had a couple of VERY minor events, heck those drive both of us even more crazy because all they do is creates headaches.

So why would DH not be too thrilled these days? How about these numbers…December 2011 was 4.4° above average, which in relation to average was our warmest month since July. How are things going in January? Well through the 7th we’re running a whooping 9.4° above average for the month thus far. This though will come way down over the next 10 days as the colder air that will be moving into the region starts to chip away at that number.

DH wouldn’t necessarily be happy with what’s ahead. Sure things are going to change from a temperature standpoint over the next several weeks and the clock is slowly ticking on the “winter that isn’t” not only here but across the remainder of the region from the Dakotas through the Lakes into the NE part of the country. Whether or not that change brings us some much needed rain/snow, we’ll see but it certainly looks like we’ll be talking about more in the way of stronger cold fronts for the next 15 days or so. While moderation will be likely between surges of Canadian air, the really cold stuff will never be that far away, and we’ll be watching the weather across the border for clues as far as how cold it can get down towards us.

I mentioned this a few days ago, and it bears repeating. With a return, to dare I say seasonable weather later in the week, folks are going to feel it. Throughout all of it though, it’s important to remember that highs in the 20s/30s are supposed to be the rule rather than the exception during the next 15-20 days or so. So far for the last 5 weeks+ that has been flipped around.

It’s also important to remember that at this point I still see no important rain/snow/ice events on tap for the area.

So let’s talk about what’s going to happen this week. As you know I’ve been very firm about saying that the early week storm that is going to affect NM and W TX with another potential big snowstorm(!) would be passing south of the region. It’s the reason why I haven’t put rain in the forecast for Tuesday, despite what the models have been dictating. In a sense I was channeling my inner DH I guess. I just couldn’t figure out how an upper level storm that was going to be passing near the I-20 corridor was going to generate rainfall so far to the north. Sure it’s happened in the past, but just because the models say so, does not mean the models are correct. Today, lo and behold, the models are keeping all the rain well south of here, closer to or south of the I-44 corridor, and actually give us some really nice weather for the next 2 days, through TUE PM. There is the potential on TUE for us to have highs well into the 50s with enough sunshine. The winds really won’t be too bad around here so both MON and TUE look fabulous.

The change occurs on WED, and the timing of the cold front will dictate the highs. It appears the front will come in sometime between 9AM and Noon or so. There will be a gusty NW to NNW wind kicking in, so whatever we are near noon in terms of temperatures will probably be it for the day. We may be in the 45-50° area, before readings fall into the 30s in the later PM on WED with gusty NNW winds making it feel colder.

My expectation is that THU will be one of the colder days we’ve seen so far in the winter that isn’t, as I’m still expecting highs to be in the 20s with the potential of single digit lows FRI AM. This front will serve as the opening volley to what’s ahead for the next few weeks.

We’ll stay cold through Saturday, as we may have a reinforcing surge of chilly air later Friday into Saturday, but I think we’ll moderate somewhat on Sunday (15th). As we moderate, I think our attention will be what will be happening across far NW Canada as some true Arctic air will be loading up up there and getting ready to move into the USA during the week of the 16th. How far south the true Arctic air makes it though is still up for much debate.

What will make this trickier is the amazing lack of snowcover that may still exist from essentially our region all the way up into southern Canada. This will enable these frigid airmasses to lose some of their punch as they descend towards the region. So despite some pretty powerful waves of cold weather heading into the USA, the real bite should be taken out of them. We’ll have a period of below average temperatures, for sure, but by January standards at least, nothing out of control, and my feeling is that after a couple of these fronts come through, by the 15th, in the big scheme of things it really won’t be a big deal.

Basically what I’m trying to say is that the weather is about to undergo a BIG change, but that BIG change is simply a return to typical January temperatures. Not extreme cold, nor for that matter the extreme warmth we’ve enjoyed so far this winter. So this will get us through the 18th or so…after that, you can see how the models are actually trying to bring the Pacific flow back into play again.

So can we get any precipitation out of all these changes? While the operational run of the GFS model is showing a fantasy storm in about 10-11 days, it’s ensemble runs show little support for anything. The newest EURO shows nothing interesting through day 10 and potentially longer. So at this point I can’t see any reason for snowlovers to get excited, except that, finally from a temperature standpoint, it’ll be cold enough to snow for some of the days. I should note one thing however, the models won’t pick up the potential for weird little events as we try to transition from one airmass to another…these are tricky to pick up on until you’re a couple of days away…so we’ll need to be wary for lighter events, that while minor could still create some travel headaches down the road.

I’ve put together an animation showing the progress of airmasses across the country every 2 days starting on Wednesday AM with the colder air poised to move in…so the maps go from WED-FRI-SUN-TUE

Finally, I showed you yesterday the situation up in AK…that’s where the snow has been this winter. Take a look at what life was like in Cordova, AK on Friday…the music cracks me up.

But at least someone was happy about it!

Perfect music as well!


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