Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter ... now you see it ... now you don't

Those of you who follow weather very closely might be bored by what I'm saying today. Casual followers of weather might want to read on, however.

You all know about computer models -- the computer-based guidance that is a tool used by meteorologists in forecasting the weather.

The models update several times a day, and those who follow the updates closely are sometimes known by the term "model-huggers." Model-hugging can be a frustrating experience, and the last 48 hours is an example of that.

By following some of the output of the Global model, you'd have thought a few days ago that the Carolinas (and much of the central and eastern United States) were heading into arctic cold and winter storms, starting shortly before the end of the year.

Then on Sunday night came new models, indicating that maybe the very cold weather wouldn't be sinking far enough south and east to affect the Carolinas. Maybe it would remain bottled up in Canada, or perhaps moving no farther southeast than the Midwest.

In other words, forget about wintry weather for a while.

Experienced meteorologists tend to study the trends before making forecasts.

The trend late last week pointed to a pattern change for the Southeast. There were indications that we'd move from our December pattern -- with temperatures averaging around seasonal norms and no real threat of wintry weather -- to a wintry, stormy pattern.

One facilitator of that change would be the deep low pressure system that is expected to push northward from the Deep South into the eastern Great Lakes and southern Canada over the next few days.

Now, based on the last few model runs, all that is in doubt again. The most recent computer guidance says the current Carolinas weather pattern will continue, for the most part, into at least the first several days of January.  In other words, no pattern change.

But the model runs late Sunday hardly constitute a trend.  That will be determined from what the guidance tells us over the next few days.

Today's Christmas facts ... Last week, I wrote about the most successful (financially) Christmas movies. But what are the most popular?

The website What To Do With The Kids (which can provide ideas on keeping children busy during the holidays) says it interviewed people last year on their favorite holiday movies.  The response:

1. "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" (the 1966 animated version); 2. "The Polar Express" (2004 animated version); 3. "It's A Wonderful Life" (1946); 4. "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" (1964, animation); 5. "Elf" (2004); 6. (tie) "A Charlie Brown Christmas" (1965, animation); "The Santa Clause" (1994); "Frosty the Snowman" (1969, animation); 9. "The Grinch" (2000); 10. "Miracle on 34th Street" (1947 version); 11. "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation" (1989); 12. "A Muppet Christmas Carol" (1992).

Incidentally, "How The Grinch Stole Christmas" was also No. 1 in the last poll conducted by the website, in 2011.


Anonymous said...

Hey Steve -

How about an article on how the computer models get created? What data goes into the models to create them? Why are they all different?

Maybe look at why the Europeans are spending so much money to upgrade their weather modeling hardware while the US allows our systems to age and not get updated.

Or when they do get updated, they get updated just enough to run the latest Atari games?

Anonymous said...

Garbage data in, garbage data out.

Anonymous said...

Last winter was great. This year is just so wishy washy. In a way I don't mind because I love the Fall and this is kind of an extension. Better this than an extended summer, that's for sure.

On the other hand, this roller coaster crap really gets tiresome.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Steve for reinforcing what most of us already knew. You can consult a monkey and get the same long term accuracy as the weather hypers.

Anonymous said...

Continuous garbage weather; round after round of flooding rain without end. Toss in some sub-freezing temps and you have ice storms and power outages and wrecks. Pure garbage weather on the way with no end in sight.

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