Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Cold, snow? Where is it?

Those of you clamoring for cold weather and wintry precipitation -- a group that does not include me -- are suffering through what is, for you, a nightmarish December.

And it's starting to look as if the trend will carry into January.

Temperatures are nearly 6 degrees above average for the month and more than 13 degrees warmer than last December.

The word "snow" hasn't even been mentioned in a Piedmont forecast, and even the North Carolina mountains aren't seeing much frozen precipitation. It's been largely the same way from the eastern Great Lakes to New England.

Our pattern has been consistent -- one or two days of chilly weather, followed by several days of well-above-average temperatures. Fortunately, we've had plenty of rain, so there are no worried about a drought.

This has been classic La Nina conditions.

We had a La Nina last winter, but from early December until mid February, we also had a powerful high pressure system over Greenland that created a "negative" Arctic oscillation and sent very cold air into the eastern United States on a repeated basis.

This year, the Greenland high is not blocking mild air from the Pacific (which is what La Nina produces).

As of now, there are no signs of a different pattern through the first 10 or 11 days of January.

It looks as if we could get our coldest temperatures so far this winter next week. A northwest flow is expected to develop, due to a large trough over the eastern United States.

"It seems cold weather is on the way next week," says Doug Outlaw, of the National Weather Service office in Greer, S.C.

But the really cold air remains bottled up in the arctic, so the "cold" air that funnels down the trough into the Southeast next week won't be brutal. We're talking about a couple of days -- Tuesday and Wednesday, most likely, with highs in the mid to upper 40s and lows in the mid 20s.

Then guess what? The forecast is for a warming trend, from about Jan. 7 to 11. Temperatures could reach 60 degrees again in the second week of January.

As I've written several times already this season ... this pattern could change. A Greenland block could establish itself in late January or anytime in February. But we're apparently going to get through the first half of winter without much of the weather that the cold weather fans really want.


Anonymous said...

Bummer! After such a long hot summer, I was looking forward to a good dose of really cold winter air. I hope we get some before Spring.

Anonymous said...

If you want really cold weather, I hear there are some really good house buys in Buffalo.

Anonymous said...

..or Detroit.

Anonymous said...

or Cleveland

christionjh said...

Since I didn't get a white christmas, I want a white bday (Jan 12)

Anonymous said...

This weather sucks.

Anonymous said...

when is it going to be winter already??? This weather has been so disappointing.

Anonymous said...

"Then guess what?"... It's dissapointing to see someone so pessimistic about fun wintry weather, weather guy... :'(

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve! I, for one, appreciate the insight. Winter in the South can be unpredictable but is never unbearable. I always enjoy your column.