Friday, February 18, 2011

Is winter on the ropes?

Is it time to stick a fork in winter?

Well, it's never a good idea to declare winter finished, but let's just say it's time to open the silverware drawer.

After 10 weeks of temperatures that were well below average and several rounds of snow and ice, the weather pattern has changed dramatically in the last week. And there doesn't seem to be any sign of a return to the conditions we experienced earlier this winter.

Based on what I've seen and heard from a number of meteorologists, it appears as if any prolonged outbreaks of cold weather and snow will be relegated to areas north of the Carolinas. The consensus seems to be that the Great Lakes, Upper Midwest and Northeast will have a few more rounds with winter, but the area south of a line running roughly from Washington to central Kentucky to southern Missouri is in the clear.

Among the most bullish on this idea is Accu-Weather's Joe Bastardi, who said in an article on his company's website that "The back of winter is broken" in the Southeast. Dave Tolleris, another meteorologist who does some long-range forecasting, agrees.

The Climate Prediction Center, operated by NOAA, is less certain. For the next 6 to 10 days, it predicts warm weather for the Carolinas. In the 8-14 day period, the forecast is less-clear. The discussion is rather technical, but here's a link, if you're interested:

In the 30-day forecast, the Climate Prediction Center notes that the big unknown is the Atlantic Oscillation (AO). When it was negative, in December and January, the jet stream delivered cold wave after cold wave to the eastern United States. Now the AO is neutral. Will it stay that way in March? Forecasters aren't sure.

Here's a link to the 30-day forecast:

Every one of these long-range forecasters adds a warning ... there's still a chance of a brief outbreak of winter. That means for a day or two, or even three, we might have chilly weather.

In the foreseeable future, there is nothing but mild weather in sight. For the next 6 to 10 days, temperatures are expected to be at or above average. That would take us into the first week of March, and at that point, the Carolinas climate favors springtime.

Heavy snow has fallen in mid and late March, but it has a shelf life of a day or two. The high angle of the sun and the presence of warmth nearby usually melts the snow in a hurry.

And let's not forget the Easter Sunday a few years ago when Charlotte's temperature dropped into the lower 20s one morning -- in early April. That can happen again.

However, the big dip in the jet stream that brought arctic air funneling into the Southeast has relaxed. The pattern has become more zonal -- west to east.

If you are sick of this winter (and many people have written me to say that), you might be in luck.


Anonymous said...

Not until I fix my A/C!!!!

Mark said...

I sure hope so! This has been a miserable one!

Anonymous said...

No, winter is not over, not by a long shot. It might seem so, temperature-wise lately, but anyone who's lived around here for long knows better. Plus, I can't remember when we haven't had a final frost in April.

We often have a little break like we're having now...people get outside working in the yard, open windows to air out the house, maybe even turn the heat all the way off for a few days.

But Old Man Winter always gets another lick or two in before the end of April...just wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Yeah a final lick or two. Remember March 1960 (3 snows), March 1980, and the blizzard of March, 1993. can be interesting this time of year.