Forecast for the winter of 2012 - 2013

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 4:53 PM GMT on October 18, 2012

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Expect increased chances of a warmer than average winter across most of the western U.S., and a cooler than average winter across much of Florida, said NOAA in their annual Winter Outlook, released on October 18. The forecast also called for increased chances of a wetter than average winter along the Gulf Coast, and drier than average conditions in the Pacific Northwest and Upper Midwest. This year's forecast was more difficult than usual to make, said Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, due to the uncertainty about what El Niño may do. El Niño strongly impacts winter weather patterns, by altering the path of the jet stream and the associated winter storms that travel along the axis of the jet stream. We currently have neutral El Niño conditions over the tropical Pacific ocean, which means that ocean temperatures are near average along the Equator from the coast of South America to the Date Line. But from early July to mid-September, a borderline weak El Niño event appeared to be consolidating, and most of the El Niño computer models were calling for a full-fledged El Niño event to be in place by winter. That is now seriously in question, as we've had four straight weeks with neutral conditions. NOAA's Climate Prediction Center has dropped their odds of a winter El Niño event to 55%. El Niño events typically cause cooler and wetter winter conditions across the Southern U.S., and warmer than average conditions across much of the Northern U.S.



Figure 1. Forecast temperature (top) and precipitation (bottom) for the U.S. for the upcoming winter, as predicted in the NOAA Winter Outlook, released on October 18.

What will the Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation do?
While El Niño is usually a key factor controlling winter weather patterns, it is often overshadowed by the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)--a climate pattern in the North Atlantic Ocean of fluctuations in the difference of sea-level pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. The NAO controls the strength and direction of westerly winds and storm tracks across the North Atlantic. A large difference in the pressure between Iceland and the Azores (positive NAO) leads to increased westerly winds and mild and wet winters in Europe. Positive NAO conditions also cause the Icelandic Low to draw a stronger south-westerly flow of air over eastern North America, preventing Arctic air from plunging southward. In contrast, if the difference in sea-level pressure between Iceland and the Azores is small (negative NAO), westerly winds are suppressed, allowing Arctic air to spill southwards into eastern North America and Europe more readily. This pattern is kind of like leaving the refrigerator door ajar--the Arctic refrigerator warms up, but all the cold air spills out into the house where people live. The NAO is a close cousin of the Arctic Oscillation (AO), and can be thought of as the North Atlantic component of the larger-scale Arctic Oscillation. Since the AO is a larger-scale pattern, scientists refer to the AO instead of the NAO when discussing large-scale winter circulation patterns. The winter of 2009 - 2010 had the most extremely negative NAO pattern (and AO pattern) since record keeping began in 1950. Vicious "Snowmageddon" winter storms occurred in both the U.K. and the United States that winter, as both Europe and North America suffered though an unusually cold and snowy winter (the NAO index was -1.67, beating the previous record of -1.47 set in the winter of 1962 - 1963.) Thus, the phase and strength of the AO/NAO pattern is a key factor controlling winter weather. Unfortunately, this pattern is not predictable more than about two weeks in advance, and thus was not considered by NOAA in their forecast for the upcoming winter.


Figure 2. The forecast for the winter of 2011 - 2012 released October 20, 2011 by NOAA called for a classic La Niña weather pattern over the U.S.--increased chances of warmer and drier weather over the Southern U.S., and cooler and wetter over the northern tier of states (top panels.) Nearly the entire nation ended up having a warmer than average winter, with the winter of 2011 - 2012 ranking as the 4th warmest winter on record. While the Southeast U.S. did see a very dry winter, as is typical in a La Niña year, Texas had an unusually wet winter. Part of the reason for the very mild winter was because the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), averaged over the winter, reached its most extreme positive value (+1.37) since record keeping began in 1950 (previous record: +1.36 during the winter of 1994 - 1995.)

Winter weather and the sunspot cycle
Another major influence on the AO and winter circulation patterns may be the 11-year solar cycle. Recent satellite measurements of ultraviolet light changes due to the 11-year sunspot cycle show that these variations are larger than was previously thought, and may have major impacts on winter circulation patterns. A climate model study published in Nature Geosciences by Ineson et al. (2011) concluded that during the minimum of the 11-year sunspot cycle, the sharp drop in UV light can drive a strongly negative AO pattern, resulting in "cold winters in northern Europe and the United States, and mild winters over southern Europe and Canada, with little direct change in globally averaged temperature." The winters of 2009 - 2010 and 2010 - 2011 both occurred during a minimum in the 11-year sunspot cycle and fit this pattern, with strongly negative AO conditions leading to cold and snowy winters in northern Europe and the Eastern U.S. There was more solar activity during the winter of 2011 - 2012, which may have contributed to the fact that AO conditions reversed, ending up positive. The coming winter of 2012 - 2013 will have even more solar activity than last winter (Figure 3), potentially increasing the odds of a warm, positive-AO winter in northern Europe and the United States.


Figure 3. The number of sunspots from 2000 - 2012 shows that solar minimum occurred during the winter of 2008 - 2009, and that solar activity is now approaching a peak, expected to arrive sometime in 2013. Image credit: NOAA Space Weather Prediction Center.

How will Arctic sea ice loss affect the winter?
Francis et al. (2009) found that during 1979 - 2006, years that had unusually low summertime Arctic sea ice had a 10 - 20% reduction in the temperature difference between the Equator and North Pole. This resulted in a weaker jet stream with slower winds that lasted a full six months, through fall and winter. The weaker jet caused a weaker Aleutian Low and Icelandic Low during the winter, resulting in a more negative Arctic Oscillation (AO), allowing cold air to spill out of the Arctic and into Europe and the Eastern U.S. Thus, summers with high Arctic sea ice loss may increase the odds of cold, snowy winters in Europe and the Eastern U.S. In my April 2, 2012 blog post, Arctic sea ice loss tied to unusual jet stream patterns, I discuss three additional research papers published in 2012 that argue for a major impact of Arctic sea ice loss on Northern Hemisphere weather in fall and winter, with sea ice loss causing an increase in the probability of negative-AO winters. But cold air may also be more likely to spill out of the Arctic in winter due to the decades-long pattern of warming and cooling of Atlantic Ocean waters known as the Atlantic Multidecadal Oscillation (AMO). A 2012 study by NASA scientists found that the warm phase of the AMO (like we have been in since 1995) causes more instances of atmospheric blocking, where the jet stream gets "stuck" in place, leading to long periods of extreme weather. It will be interesting to see how all these factors play out in the coming years. If these three newly-published studies are correct, the U.S. should see an increase in cold, snowy winters like 2010 - 2011 and 2009 - 2010 in coming decades, as Arctic sea ice continues to melt, affecting fall and winter atmospheric circulation patterns more strongly.

What happened during past winters with similar atmospheric conditions?
During a press conference today, Mike Halpert, deputy director of NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, was asked to compare weather conditions this fall to those observed in previous years. The idea is that by looking at previous "analogue" years with similar progressions of the El Niño pattern, one might anticipate what the winter climate might be like. Halpert emphasized that this year is totally unique in the 63 years we've been keeping statistics on El Niño. Never before has an El Niño event begun to form in July and August, then quit in mid-September. Even if we did have a few analogue years, it wouldn't do any good, though--Halpert stated that we would need a data base of at least 1,000 years of historical data to make a skillful winter forecast based on analogue years.

Summary
I'm often asked by friends and neighbors what my forecast for the coming winter is, but I tell them to flip a coin, or catch some woolley bear caterpillars for me so I can count their stripes and make a woolley bear winter forecast (this year's Woolley Worm Festival in Banner Elk, North Carolina is this weekend, so we'll know then what the official Woolley Worm winter forecast is.) Making an accurate winter forecast is very difficult, as the interplay between El Niño, the AO/NAO, the AMO, Arctic sea ice loss, and the 11-year sunspot cycle is complex and poorly understood. I've learned to expect the unexpected and unprecedented from our weather over the past few winters; perhaps the most unexpected thing would be a very average winter during 2012 - 2013.

References
Francis, J. A., W. Chan, D. J. Leathers, J. R. Miller, and D. E. Veron, 2009: Winter northern hemisphere weather patterns remember summer Arctic sea-ice extent. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L07503, doi:10.1029/2009GL037274.

Honda, M., J. Inoue, and S. Yamane, 2009: Influence of low Arctic sea-ice minima on anomalously cold Eurasian winters. Geophys. Res. Lett., 36, L08707, doi:10.1029/2008GL037079.

Ineson, S., et al., 2011, Solar forcing of winter climate variability in the Northern Hemisphere, Nature Geoscience (2011) doi:10.1038/ngeo1282

Overland, J. E., and M. Wang, 2010: Large-scale atmospheric circulation changes associated with the recent loss of Arctic sea ice. Tellus, 62A, 1.9.

Petoukhov, V., and V. Semenov, 2010: A link between reduced Barents-Kara sea ice and cold winter extremes over northern continents. J. Geophys. Res.-Atmos., ISSN 0148-0227.

Seager, R., Y. Kushnir, J. Nakamura, M. Ting, and N. Naik (2010), Northern Hemisphere winter snow anomalies: ENSO, NAO and the winter of 2009/10, Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L14703, doi:10.1029/2010GL043830.

Quiet in the Atlantic and Eastern Pacific
Forecasters at the National Hurricane Center get a rare break today, as there are no tropical cyclones or threat areas in either the Atlantic or Eastern Pacific to discuss. Most of the models are predicting that an area of disturbed weather capable of becoming a tropical depression will form in the Central Caribbean Sea south of Jamaica by the end of next week. Residents of Central America, Jamaica, Cuba, Haiti, and the Cayman Islands should anticipate the possibility of a multi-day period of very heavy rains affecting them late next week.

I'll have a new post on Saturday.

Jeff Masters

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Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Euro and Canadian Models seem to develop the system faster than the GFS and show a track more towards Jamaica and Eastern Cuba while the GFS starts developing the system in a week and has a track farther to the East over Hispaniola.

12z Euro:



12z Canadian:



18z GFS:

Member Since: August 31, 2009 Posts: 0 Comments: 5628
What is Winter like in Florida?.............Nahhhh...
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
THIS OUTLOOK IS FOR NORTHEAST FLORIDA...SOUTHEAST GEORGIA AND THE
ADJACENT COASTAL WATERS.

.DAY ONE...REST OF TODAY AND TONIGHT...

PERSISTENT EASTERLY OCEAN SWELLS WILL MAINTAIN A MODERATE RIP
CURRENT RISK AT AREA BEACHES.

AN APPROACHING COLD FRONT WILL BRING A CHANCE OF SHOWERS AND
THUNDERSTORMS TO MAINLY INLAND SOUTHEAST GEORGIA THIS EVENING.
THIS ACTIVITY WILL GRADUALLY PUSH SOUTHEASTWARD INTO THE SUWANNEE
VALLEY AND THE INTERSTATE 10 CORRIDOR OVERNIGHT.

.DAYS TWO THROUGH SEVEN...FRIDAY THROUGH WEDNESDAY...

A COLD FRONT MOVING THROUGH OUR REGION WILL BRING A CHANCE OF
SHOWERS AND THUNDERSTORMS FOR NORTHEAST FLORIDA AND COASTAL
PORTIONS OF SOUTHEAST GEORGIA ON FRIDAY. SOME STORMS MAY BECOME
STRONG AND PRODUCE GUSTY WINDS DURING THE AFTERNOON.

A MUCH DRIER AIR MASS WILL FILTER INTO OUR AREA IN THE WAKE OF THE
COLD FRONT DURING THE WEEKEND. THERE WILL BE AN ELEVATED FIRE
DANGER FOR INLAND LOCATIONS ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY DUE TO LONG
PERIODS OF LOW RELATIVE HUMIDITY VALUES.

.SPOTTER INFORMATION STATEMENT...

SPOTTER ACTIVATION IS NOT REQUESTED AT THIS TIME.

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION...VISIT THE NATIONAL WEATHER SERVICE
IN JACKSONVILLE WEBSITE ON THE INTERNET AT WEATHER.GOV/JAX.

$$
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
And last frame. North it goes:



And there is a tiny thing SW of CV islands.
Member Since: April 29, 2009 Posts: 75 Comments: 14243
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
boy those nightime 40's are close, wish they would get by me
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
At the end of the run we have a low riding up the east coast. If this was a few months in the future then there would be some problems. I wanted to chip in somehow with this run.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
TA 13 must have fallen asleep or something so I'll finish the 18z GFS. It develops a weak Gulf system around 300 hours and brings it east:

yeah end of next week should get interesting alright,too many models saying pretty much the same thing.
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
And last frame. North it goes:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7779
The system crosses the FL peninsula and becomes a hybrid off the SE coast:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7779
TA 13 must have fallen asleep or something so I'll finish the 18z GFS. It develops a weak Gulf system around 300 hours and brings it east:

Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 83 Comments: 7779
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Hmmm this thinks so as well...................
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Day 10:



Day 11:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
GFS at 180 hours,lets see this time next week..........
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Day 8:



Day 9:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
new GFS at 168 hours..there's the 2 storms at the bottom..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Quoting DrMickey:

Kinda thought so; thanks for the verify. I lived in Pinellas County from 2000 to 2011. I know the Executive Airport; I worked in Tampa as well as various places in Pinellas County and I have never seen 14 degrees. Maybe the WX station burped once...
yep ive lived here since the early 80's and ive seen cold here, where the water sort of froze in the bird bath but..never heard of 14 degree's here in pinellas along the coast..now inland i dunno, it does get colder midstate
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Quoting Barefootontherocks:
Don't know if anyone's mentioned this.

I-35 near the OK/KS border has been closed for awhile due to a 20-30 car pile up that happened about 1 p.m. today.

There is poor visibility in the area due to a windstorm/dust storm. Heard about this on the radio in my car a while ago. TV news is also reporting it. Haven't heard much about injuries but apparently there are some. TV reporter says it's due to "60 mph winds and blowing dirt." Fields had recently been plowed for winter wheat. Winds are still in the 30-40 mph range up that way, according to Channel 9 meteorolgist, Gary England. (Trivia: He just celebrated 40 years at channel 9!)
whew thats a bad one..we had a 50 car pile up around here on I-75 a couple of weeks ago..bad visability once again..people really do need to stay back and slow down when its fog or rain and be ready for anything until things clear up huh
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38423
Day 7 (Failed loading frame)

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Holy WTF?



World's biggest geoengineering experiment 'violates' UN rules: Controversial US businessman's iron fertilization off west coast of Canada contravenes two UN conventions

"A controversial American businessman dumped around 100 tonnes of iron sulphate into the Pacific Ocean as part of a geoengineering scheme off the west coast of Canada in July, a Guardian investigation can reveal.

Lawyers, environmentalists and civil society groups are calling it a "blatant violation" of two international moratoria and the news is likely to spark outrage at a United Nations environmental summit taking place in India this week.

Satellite images appear to confirm the claim by Californian Russ George that the iron has spawned an artificial plankton bloom as large as 10,000 square kilometres. The intention is for the plankton to absorb carbon dioxide and then sink to the ocean bed %u2013 a geoengineering technique known as ocean fertilisation that he hopes will net lucrative carbon credits."


Full article at the Guardian here.
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Quoting nishinigami:
Dr. Masters,

I am very interested in the winter forecast for Alaska. I have lived in Valdez for a year now and last winter was very extreme. All of the information in your post was for the lower 48 states. How might these forecasts (el enino) affect Alaska, in particular, south central Alaska?

Thank you for any information.

Kelley
I am not Dr. Masters and I am not here to forecast. I spent many winters in that part of the world.

Thing is, Valdez on up through Thompson Pass is a microclimate that receives 'way more snowfall than much of southcentral. You live in Alaska's "Little Switzerland," an area sometimes also referred to as "the Alaskan Alps." Folks I know in Anchorage say this past winter reminded them of winters in the 1970s. With all that snow in Anchorage last winter, yours in Valdez must have been a humdinger.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Don't know if anyone's mentioned this.

I-35 near the OK/KS border has been closed for awhile due to a 20-30 35 car pile up that happened about 1 p.m. today.

There is poor visibility in the area due to a windstorm/dust storm. Heard about this on the radio in my car a while ago. TV news is also reporting it. Haven't heard much about injuries but apparently there are some. TV reporter says it's due to "60 mph winds and blowing dirt." Fields had recently been plowed for winter wheat. Winds are still in the 30-40 mph range up that way, according to (OKC) Channel 9 meteorolgist, Gary England. (Trivia: He just celebrated 40 years at channel 9!)
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Day 5:



Day 6:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Quoting thunderbug91:

Verified false. I'm a few miles east of the airport and its toasty. It was this morning too lol. currently 90 F here

Kinda thought so; thanks for the verify. I lived in Pinellas County from 2000 to 2011. I know the Executive Airport; I worked in Tampa as well as various places in Pinellas County and I have never seen 14 degrees. Maybe the WX station burped once...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Dr. Masters,

I am very interested in the winter forecast for Alaska. I have lived in Valdez for a year now and last winter was very extreme. All of the information in your post was for the lower 48 states. How might these forecasts (el enino) affect Alaska, in particular, south central Alaska?

Thank you for any information.

Kelley
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I'll start posting the 18z GFS so we don't have more than one person posting it at once.

Day 3:



Day 4:

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Quoting TropicalAnalystwx13:

...Where?

I honestly don't know where he sees it.

About sucking it up, I also have a fever and I couldn't go to school due to that too.

18z GFS is now running, should be interesting to see where it develops and sends a storm.
Member Since: March 16, 2012 Posts: 127 Comments: 7942


ice/snow filling in nicly now
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we saw plenty of snow in Miami beginning in the late 70's thru the 80's.... there was a movie made out of it....Scarface...(I was in my teens but have heard that was the case) Ohhh...wait, nevermind.
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Quoting Maineweatherguy20023:

I see SNOWW!!!!!!

...Where?
Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Quoting GTcooliebai:
Euro 120 hrs.


I see SNOWW!!!!!!
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Quoting AztecCe:
I got heads what does that mean?

SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Tails:SNOW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! !!!
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Well according to the forecast my area may be average and boring.Nooo! I need a 24" snowstorm in the wake of last winter.I miss the feel of snow.If you catch snow fresh while falling from the sky in a cup and eat its delicious(yes I know this is very weird).I'm crossing fingers here.


You probably don't want to see the meme I saw earlier today LOL It's not simply quite as it shows, but was still funny

I don't want to post it as I know some people can be easily offended, but if you go to this page and scroll down to their 5pm post, you'll see what I mean ;p If you've not actually seen it already! LOL

Link
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Over 18 hours old but shows a weak low in the SW Caribbean.
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7862
105. TXCWC
Location not as important right now as the fact that models are still holding on to Carribean tropical development in about a week. Interesting to note models are also indicating a split system. With such a large system DO NOT BE SURPRISED IF WE HAVE A SYSTEM WITH MULTIPLE COMPETING LOWS - AS ESP. SHOWN ON EURO ON DAY 9.

12Z GFS 10 days



12Z GFS Ensemble 10 days



12Z EURO 10 days

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Quoting GTcooliebai:
Yeah I'm in your camp, could use a blizzard here in Tampa Bay like 1899.

Same! 48-56" on x-mas!!
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Quoting indianrivguy:


chocoholics the world over know it is Hershey's Syrup, and Nestles Quik... just saying :)


You're right, it's been 20 years ago so the memory has faded. It was the yellow and brown cans with the powder
mix so Nestle's it was for me.

In weather news......the NAO

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Quoting StAugustineFL:


I used to make snow milkshakes when living in the midwest. Pack a cup/glass with snow, mix in a small dose of sugar (a teaspoon at most), then either vanilla extract or Hershey's Quik depending on personal preference and stir. They tasted pretty good - at least to a teenagers palate. If indoors though you had to eat/drink them quickly.


chocoholics the world over know it is Hershey's Syrup, and Nestles Quik... just saying :)
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MJO is really cranking up for theend of hurricane season 2012
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Quoting washingtonian115:
Well according to the forecast my area may be average and boring.Nooo! I need a 24" snowstorm in the wake of last winter.I miss the feel of snow.If you catch snow fresh while falling from the sky in a cup and eat its delicious(yes I know this is very weird).I'm crossing fingers here.


Just add some mango juice & Rum to the snow, Presto...a Caribbean Frosty !
SP
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Quoting Neapolitan:
I see that the CPC has again deepened the intensity, and enlarged the areal coverage, of next week's heat up (6 6-10 day period):

CPC

The Pacific Northwest faces a cooldown, but it doesn't appear at this point to be the start of any large cross-country blast of cool air...


Nice and warm for golf, love it!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I see that the CPC has again deepened the intensity, and enlarged the areal coverage, of next week's heat up (6 6-10 day period):

CPC

The Pacific Northwest faces a cooldown, but it doesn't appear at this point to be the start of any large cross-country blast of cool air...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13526
Quoting thunderbug91:

Verified false. I'm a few miles east of the airport and its toasty. It was this morning too lol. currently 90 F here


Yeah... broken weather station:

http://www.wunderground.com/history/airport/KVDF/ 2012/10/18/DailyHistory.html

Click on the "nearest official NWS station" link to see numbers that look MUCH more realistic...
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Surprised this has not been posted yet.

"MJO composites, warmer-than-normal SSTs, and climatology favor tropical cyclone development in the western Caribbean during week-2. The GFS model has been very consistent with tropical cyclone development in the western Caribbean early in week-2. Since above-average rainfall is favored across Central America, an increased chance for a late season tropical cyclone in the east Pacific is forecast near the coastline of southern Mexico or Central America. Above-average rainfall is forecast to shift east to the western Indian Ocean during week-2 where SSTs are warmer-than-normal. Suppressed convection is expected to shift east from Southeast Asia to north of New Guinea. Forecast confidence in this area of below-normal rainfall is moderate at best due to uncertainty in the MJO evolution and warmer-than-normal SSTs near the Date Line. The west Pacific is expected to be less active for tropical cyclones during week-2 with no preferred areas noted among forecast tools."

Member Since: July 6, 2010 Posts: 113 Comments: 31995
Member Since: April 29, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 7862
Quoting StAugustineFL:


I used to make snow milkshakes when living in the midwest. Pack a cup/glass with snow, mix in a small dose of sugar (a teaspoon at most), then either vanilla extract or Hershey's Quik depending on personal preference and stir. They tasted pretty good - at least to a teenagers palate. If indoors though you had to eat/drink them quickly.



DOn't eat that yellow snow....
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Quoting DrMickey:
The landing page of WXUnderground shows "Tampa Executive, FL set a record low temperature of 14 for Oct 18" Link

Anybody verify this? 14 is a big drop!

Verified false. I'm a few miles east of the airport and its toasty. It was this morning too lol. currently 90 F here
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Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.