Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Spring vs Winter

8PM Tuesday Update... This may seem random, but a I want to share a story with you about a weathergeek I knew many years ago.  My first job out of college was at a TV station in Missoula, Montana. The people there thought it was funny how excited I got over snow.  Snow to them is like rain to us... not a big deal.

One day I received a call from a viewer in Hamilton, Montana which is located in the southern Bitterroot Valley.  He loved the snow just as much as I did, if not more.  He would frequently call in snow amounts and we would talk about the next big storm heading into Big Sky country.  On one occasion, I remember a narrow, heavy band of snow set up over his location and dumped 15 inches while just 5 miles down the road nothing fell.  It was something we often talked about in amazement, but to everyone else, it was just another cold winter day.

After moving to Chattanooga, TN for my next TV job, we lost touch.  A few months into the new job, I received a phone call from his wife.  My friend had died in a car accident caused by slick roads.  I guess it's just the winter season and hearing from everyone who loves the snow that always brings back Tony's memory this time of year.  I know he's up there rooting for more snow.

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A major seasonal clash is about to occur and the fight takes place directly over the central portion of the country.  It's that time of year when spring and winter  really fight it out and all of the guidance we use indicates a storm system will have a major impact starting next Monday into Tuesday.

At this time, it appears the storm will track north of the state putting Arkansas firmly in the warm sector and that means we must watch for possible strong to severe thunderstorms.  As is always the case, specifics this far out are impossible.  I expect a major snow storm with blizzard conditions further north from Colorado to Minnesota so airline travel will be affected.

When the cold air begins to get chased out by the warmer air off the Gulf and Pacific.  I would not be surprised to see widespread fog develop with the cold ground from recent snow.  This may keep temperatures from strongly rebounding.  However, I think there's still a good chance to get highs well into the 70s Sunday and Monday of next week and we could challenge record highs.

This is the transition from the January thaw to a colder weather pattern.  Once the low passes by, a return to winter temperatures will be likely, but at this time, I don't see much moisture.

The arctic oscillation index is a fantastic tool to forecast trends within 2 weeks.  Notice the negative AO earlier this month and that correlates to the below average temperatures.  Then the AO goes positive and that's the current milder pattern we're in right now.  During the first week of February, it's forecast to go towards neutral to slightly negative.  How long it stays there is a big question at this point.

A very mild "zonal" flow (west to east) will flood the country with Pacific air late this week into the weekend.  I think highs in the 70s will be possible. 

A strong storm system develops over the western United States.  This will bring rain and storms Monday into Tuesday followed by cold air again.

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NOAA Winter Guidance