Friday, December 26, 2014

Coming up: A very mild January for Carolinas

Remember the other day, when I wrote that a few computer models were hinting that the much-publicized "pattern change" to cold and stormy weather might not be coming as expected at the beginning of the year?

I wrote that it was just a few runs of the models and not yet a trend.

Now it's a trend.

Most of the long-range guidance, including the pretty reliable Coupled Forecast System (CFSv2) operated by NOAA, is pointing to a mild January in the Southeast. In fact, temperatures could be well above average, if everything breaks the way it seems.

This marks a pretty big bust in many of the long-range forecasts that had called for a chilly and stormy winter, with the worst of the wintry weather arriving in early January.

First of all, this doesn't mean that it won't get chilly in the Carolinas, because it will -- next week. We're looking at several days of below-average temperatures before and immediately after New Years, although it won't be bitterly cold -- just highs in the mid and upper 40s for a few days.

Second, it doesn't mean arctic cold won't push into the United States. It looks like a blast of cold will slide southward from Canada into the Midwest, dumping cold air into Texas all the way to the Rio Grande next week.

But the computer guidance insists that the cold air won't push east of the Appalachians. Many of the forecasts show a persistent high pressure ridge off the Florida coast. Those southeast ridges are a death knell to wintry weather in the Southeast.

The Arctic Oscillation (AO) refuses to go negative, which keeps a steady west-to-east flow across the southern United States.

This doesn't mean our weather won't turn much colder in late January or February, but it means the computers certainly don't think it will happen anytime soon.

What caused the forecasts to go so wrong?  I've been reading a lot of possible explanations, but it's really a reminder that what the science of meteorology has improved a lot in recent years, there are still many things we don't understand. One theory I've seen thrown around the past few days is solar activity, with the theory being that strong solar activity overrides many of our other weather factors.

Greg Fishel of WRAL-TV wrote on his Facebook page on Friday afternoon that the last time we had a pattern like the one developing in early January was in 2005 and again in 2006. Both years, we had highs in the 60s and 70s.

Those two winters produced some of our lightest snowfall ever -- a trace in 2004-05 and 1 inch in 2005-06.

All it takes is one big storm to give us a big snowfall total, but it doesn't seem likely any time soon.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

I don't care how many computer models and radar we develop, we will never predict the weather 100%

Anonymous said...

Great... guess we'll just keep summer and 90's around all year... Jeez 60's and 70's in winter sucks... some cold weather as a reprieve from the heat and humidity is welcome... shaping up like 2012 when we had no winter.

Anonymous said...

Charlotte used to have 4 seasons, getting more and more like we have 8 months of summer, 2 of fall and 2 of spring.

Anonymous said...

But don't worry ... they can forecast that 10 years from now the average temperature will rise 0.2 degrees wreaking havoc on oceans all over the world. Right ...

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 1:16 AM - Ignorance is bliss for you, I guess. There's a huge difference between predicting weather, which is incredibly variable, and predicting climate change, which occurs over decades or more. It has been proven, over and over again, that we are on a path of no return if we don't figure out how to stop global warming. I guess it's people like you who can be blamed by future generations for an uninhabitable planet.

Stan Carpenter said...

Steve, is there any past record predictability that is published about these forecasts. That is, accurate 60 or 70% of the time? I hope there right.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 9:53...jus' keep drinkin' the koolaide. Cause it's never been warmer, in human history, than it is right now.

Anonymous said...

In my fifty years here Charlotte has really only had two seasons-hot and pleasant. So enjoy the pleasant-until sometime in May that is.

Cold Miser said...

Hey Anonymous 9:53: You are never going to figure out how to stop "global warming" because there is no such thing, you sanctimonious phony.
"Path of no return." Such pompous rhetoric.

The real story here is how completely and consistently wrong these ridiculous forecasts are. You can look back a few weeks here to see where the prediction was "very cold for January." You see, the science monkey can't make up his mind.

Anonymous said...

while the weather changes, so does the climate....but the climate changed many times long before man could even be thought to be a factor. The earth was warmer in the 1100-1400 period when the Vikings had over 100,000 head of cattle on Iceland. Then the climate turned cold again. It was colder for a few centuries before it started warming up in the 1700's.
to blame man's actions for the current warming ignores the warming trend long before cars,trains, or electricity production.

Jeremiah said...

Are the long-range forecasts still showing a significant warm-up, or does the January 07-09 cold snap indicate that long-range models were wrong about the high pressure off Florida keeping cold weather away from the east coast?