Thursday, January 30, 2014
Winter Kicks Into High Gear
Over the past month, we have been completely dominated by the northern branch of the jet stream. It has delivered numerous shots of cold air well down into the Gulf and this has cut off our main moisture supply. On a side note, the continuous arctic air intrusions have cooled Gulf of Mexico surface temperatures and they are well below average. As I have mentioned in previous posts, this may help squash any significant severe weather until later in the spring when those sea surface temperatures can recover. I want to make it clear what I'm saying here. We can still have severe weather, but significant outbreaks could be delayed this severe weather season much like last year. Outside of the Botkinburg tornado in April, the only "outbreak" was late May. On yet another side note, there is no official definition of "outbreak", but I think May 30th of last year did meet my criteria as more than a dozen tornadoes hit the Natural State.
Now the southern branch of the jet will get active starting next week with numerous precipitation chances. At the same time, the northern branch will still be in a favorable position to deliver punches of cold air. Ridging over Alaska will continue. Many times you will hear it's warmer in Alaska than in the lower 48. This is very normal in this type of pattern. That's how the United States gets cold. Rarely is it cold in both places at the same time. When Alaska is in the deep freeze, it usually stays bottled up there and we are flooded with milder Pacific air. Anyway, the ridging up there continues and the transport (pump) for cold air will continue into the lower 48.
Now we have 3 systems to watch next week. Mild air comes in through Saturday, then we get back into the cold air. Waves of moisture will trek across the western and southern United States bringing numerous opportunities for precipitation. This is wonderful news for the wildfire situation, but can be bad news for travel as winter weather chances will be on the increase. The cold air from the north and the moisture will first combine on Sunday. This is a minor disturbance compared to the following one, but it can deliver some wintry weather, especially to northern Arkansas. This will be the target area all week. While winter weather will be possible further south, it's the north that will be more susceptible as the best cold air and moisture come together in that location.
The next and more significant disturbance arrives Tuesday into Wednesday. The exact track of the low and the strength is crucial for precipitation types, but all will be likely across Arkansas during this 48 hour time period. The further south the low tracks, the more likely frozen precipitation will be seen into central Arkansas, but the further north, just a cold rain. This is still several days away so it's wayyyyyy too early to get specific.
The next system arrives Friday of next week. The models show a very cold solution and snow, but I'm extremely hesitant to go with that at this time. It's possible, but once again, I think the north will be the favored area.
I have maps below explaining EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW.
In summary, as always, when you're talking about a winter forecast this far out, things are going to change. The track and strength of the low will be crucial. The purpose of this post is to show you the possibilities. This is ONLY 1 run of the operational Euro, the next run could show something completely different. However, at this time, given the pattern, I feel confident there will be wintry weather in the state. As I mentioned on twitter this morning, the brunt will be across the north. It's still POSSIBLE further south. I'll keep you updated.
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