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Even as a diehard winter and cold weather lover, even I have to admit I’ve enjoyed the weather around these parts recently. A very nice “January Thaw” set in and while we’ve seen temperatures revert to below average here and there, OVERALL things have been much warmer than average. We will continue with that idea though the first few days of February. Then? Well… Thor’s Hammer is going to drop as I anticipate a pattern reversal that will bring the cold and snow BACK to our region.

Before we look ahead, there’s something I want to touch on. Lots of people think forecasting weather is simple. We just look out the window, wet our fingers and stick them up towards the sky… or look at some sort of weather app. Wrong! Look, maybe it’s because I take my job so seriously or the fact that I live, breathe and eat weather, but SOMETIMES I’m rubbed the wrong way when people make these ridiculous claims. To be quite honest with you, forecasting (in many cases) the unpredictable is not a simple task.

Most of us don’t simply look at one set of data and go off of that for a forecast. No, it’s MUCH more than that. Methods vary greatly from forecaster to forecaster. I’m very fortunate that I grew up around some old school meteorologists who helped guide me on my journey. They taught me the “old” way of doing things and I have to tell you, those methods beat out forecast models 80% of the time. Why did I go with a snowier winter season than most? Because I didn’t follow what the models were saying. You have to look at the BIG picture and look at all the variables that will have an impact before putting your thoughts together. Just as sure as I was that winter would start strong and we’d see an eventual January Thaw, I’m sure that Winter will come back strong. Why? Let’s get started.

  1. Positioning of the “coldest” <- It’s along the equator. It’s not REALLY cold… but it’s relative… water associated with this year’s La Nina. That combined with the blob of warm water to the north and west generally promotes ridging in the western portion of the United States. What goes up, much come down… that leads to troughiness in the east. That’s EXACTLY what happened in mid to late December. Nothing has changed. This is why I’m confident that the same scenario will come to fruition within the next 2 weeks.
  2. Madden Julian Oscillation – This has to do with pressures near Australia. Believe it or not what happens halfway around the globe impacts us here at home. There are 8 phases the MJO can go into. Phases 4-5-6 are pretty warm. The forecast is for the MJO to rocket into a strong 7 and then you can extrapolate that out and see it going full circle into 8-1-2 which are cold for us this time of the year.
  3. North Atlantic Oscillation – I think the NAO is given too much credit a lot of the time. The NAO certainly HELPS us, especially when there is a storm (you want it negative so there’s blocking and it comes up the coast) but it is not totally needed for colder temps contrary to popular belief. It’s been positive recently and looks like it COULD return to a negative phase by February.
  4. Easter and Western Pacific Oscillations – EPO/WPO have been a bigger driving force in our weather than the NAO is. It’s because of their very NEGATIVE phase for 2 weeks straight that we saw record cold across the entire nation. We’ve been in the POSITIVE phase for both but that is going to change. 
    1. One of the things I use to forecast weather are temperature anomalies. They are very helpful into taking a look into the past and showing what conditions were like with a specific pattern. See the difference between the Positive and Negative EPO/WPO. The Negative look is what I think we return to by February.

I think February is going to be a great month. It is typically the snowiest around our region. We’ve picked up 24” (in EHT) so far for the season… totals vary depending on location, the SHORE has seen the most this year which is VERY rare. I expect to probably add another 10” to that season total before all is said and done with.

I also expect this to be a year where Winter just doesn’t want to die. Regardless of what the Groundhog ultimately says, I’m willing to bet there will be a chill in the air until April. Just a hunch… or a well calculated guess based on what I’m seeing line up. You be the decider.

Anyway, the rant is over. Don’t stow away the warm clothes and snow boots just yet. Don’t be fooled by Mother Nature! Change is coming… be patient.