Friday, January 4, 2013

Mild next week, then winter returns

It looks as if we're in store for mild weather next week, but don't get too accustomed to it. Winter appears to be planning a return visit later in the month.

The computer models point to above-average temperatures across all but the Northeast next week, and that will translate into afternoon high temperatures well into the upper 50s and possibly the lower 60s by later in the week for the Charlotte region.

The warm-up will begin after a weak storm system crosses the area late Saturday and early Sunday. It dropped to 22 degrees at Charlotte-Douglas International Airport on Friday morning, and temperatures probably will be in the mid 20s again Saturday at daybreak.

Then comes a change to warmer conditions for all of next week.

After that, there are a bunch of signs pointing to some pretty cold weather returning to the United States and eventually making its way into the Southeast. The best guess among meteorologists is that the Southeast will see the cold weather arrive somewhere around the 16th to the 20th of the month.

A couple issues are at work here.  A number of meteorologists are pointing to sudden stratospheric warming in the arctic. That is a buildup of relatively warm air between 25,000 and 100,000 feet above the ground in the far north. Accu-Weather mentions this in a story today (

This condition tends to send cold air near the surface southward. About the same time, the North Atlantic Oscillation and Arctic Oscillation are forecast to be in a negative phase. That means the atmospheric pattern would steer weather systems into the central and eastern United States.

One possible fly in the ointment -- the persistent low pressure in the eastern Pacific. The atmospheric flow in the eastern Pacific has tended to block the southward movement of cold air so far this winter. If the Pacific Oscillation is negative, that could stop any arctic outbreaks from pushing very far south of the Midwest and Great Lakes.

The long-range computer models think the cold air will win out. Accu-Weather meteorologists predict the arctic air will move into the upper Midwest and Rockies initially, then keep pushing a little farther south and east. For a while, the Southeast will remain in the mild air, they predict.  Eventually, they say, arctic air will dominate.

WCNC's chief meteorologist, Brad Panovich, posted a GFS model forecast on his Facebook page yesterday that shows some really brutal cold in the Southeast later this month.

Some of you are saying, "We've heard this before," and you're right. Some meteorologists have been predicting a turn to much colder conditions since late November, and it hasn't happened.

In the meantime, enjoy the milder conditions next week. That seems almost certain to happen.

We'll have to wait and see what happens beyond that.


Anonymous said...

"Some meteorologists have been predicting a turn to much colder conditions since late November, and it hasn't happened."

....and it will not happen. Mark it down. North Carolina no longer has cold winters.

Anonymous said...

when did NC ever have "cold" winters???

Exit 0 said...

Steve, you've got the best weather discussion in the region.

Brad Panovich would forecast a volcanic eruption for numbers.

Anonymous said...

Oh believe me, we used to have cold winters in these parts. And snow, too. It'd get cold before Thanksgiving and stay cold through mid-March. It really doesn't get as cold as it used to here.

Anonymous said...

I've seen the Cawtaba river frozen over

Anonymous said...

"WCNC's chief meteorologist, Brad Panovich...shows some really brutal cold for the southeast later this month". You can be sure this will never happen. Mr. Hype, AKA Brad Panicovich is ALWAYS WRONG.

Anonymous said...

A couple of posters above must not have been around 3-4 years ago when it snowed every week or at least every other week all winter, at least in WNC. All the experts above must have forgotten the weather patterns of the last 50 years. Our winters, at least in WNC, have always cycled, a bit warm then a short period of very cold, then cycling back to 3-4 days of warmth and a swing to a day or two or three of cold as systems move through. The cycle has changed some but then the experts above didn't ever see the French Broad frozen for a month.

Anonymous said...

You do know what GFS stands for, right? Good For S#!t....

Anonymous said...

It got down to minus 5 one night in January, 1985! In the Winter of1977 I recall that it was so consistently cold that Char-Meck Schools opened one hour late for about a month. Those were the days !

Anonymous said...

As a native resident of this area for 50-some years, I can assure you that our winters are consistently milder than they once were. While it has always been unusual to have solidly cold weather (cold for the area) from Thanksgiving through March, the mild stretches were shorter and less frequent. Nowadays, in general, the mild weather is the norm, with only the occasional cold snap and then temps quickly rebounding. There have always been the occasional 60-degree days in mid-winter, but they were isolated and rarely were there more than one or two of them at a time. Now we frequently have a week or more of 60+ temps. Another odd thing is that the Southeast corner of the US is consistently shielded from Canadian/Arctic cold. You can look at a temperature map of the country during a cold outbreak, and the area from southern VA to FL will be the warmest part of the country - with the exception of the desert Southwest. It will often be colder along the LA and TX gulf coast than here. The cold air comes down from Canada, plunges south, and then goes right up and over the high pressure ridge blocking the SE. Ask someone in Dallas if their winters are noticeably warmer than they used to be and their answer will likely be "no."

Anonymous said...

The salt trucks and snow plows in town are rusting from disuse.

Anonymous said...

People always remember it colder when they were younger, and they always remember it snowing more when they were younger. That kinda stuff stands out in your mind, but the #'s don't back it up.

Pesky facts!

Jan Mean Temp at the Airport:
1944-54 - 44.6
1964-74 - 40.6
1984-94 - 41.3
1904-12 - 41.6

Anonymous said...

Those temperatures would be considered cold in NC, so they seem to be evidence that it was cold in the past. Pesky facts indeed.