Where's spring? 2nd most extreme March jet stream pattern on record extends winter

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:15 PM GMT on March 20, 2013

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Punxatawney Phil got it way wrong. Pennsylvania's famous prognosticating rodent predicted just three more weeks of winter back on February 2. It's the first day of spring, but winter remains firmly entrenched over the eastern half of the U.S., where temperatures of 5 - 25°F below average have been the rule all week. The culprit is the jet stream, which has taken on an unusually contorted shape that is allowing cold air to spill down over the Eastern U.S. and Western Europe, but bringing near-record warmth to portions of Greenland. One measure of how contorted the jet stream has become is by measuring the difference in pressure between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High. There are two indices used to do this--one called the Arctic Oscillation (AO), which treats the flow over the entire Northern Hemisphere, and another called the North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), which is more focused on the North Atlantic. The two are closely related about 90% of the time. When these indices are strongly negative, the pressure difference between the Icelandic Low and the Azores High is low. This results in a weaker jet stream, allowing it to take large, meandering loops, letting cold air to spill far to the south from the Arctic into the mid-latitudes. The AO index hit -5.2 today (March 20). This is the second most extreme March value of the index since record keeping began in 1948; only an AO value of -6.3 in March 1970 was more extreme. We've had some wildly variable jet stream patterns in recent years in the Northern Hemisphere. Just last year, we had the opposite extreme in March, when our ridiculous "Summer in March" heat wave brought a week of temperatures in the 80s to the Midwest U.S. The first day of spring today in Chicago, IL is expected to have a high temperature of just 25°F--a 60 degree difference from last year's high of 85°F on March 20!


Figure 1. The jet stream is taking a large dip to the south over the Eastern U.S., allowing cold air to spill southwards and bring winter-like conditions.

Unusual winter jet stream patterns tied to Arctic sea ice loss
Unusual jet stream contortions in winter have become increasingly common in recent years, according to a March 2013 paper by Tang et al., "Cold winter extremes in northern continents linked to Arctic sea ice loss". They found a mathematical relationship between wintertime Arctic sea ice loss and the increase in unusual jet stream patterns capable of bringing cold, snowy weather to the Eastern U.S., Western Europe, and East Asia, typical of what one sees during a strongly negative Arctic Oscillation. They theorized that sea ice loss in the Arctic promotes more evaporation, resulting in earlier snowfall in Siberia and other Arctic lands. The earlier snow insulates the soil, allowing the land to cool more rapidly. This results in a southwards shift of the jet stream and builds higher atmospheric pressures farther to the south, which increases the odds of cold spells and blocking high pressure systems that can cause extended periods of unusually cold and snowy weather in the mid-latitudes.

Related posts
From Heat Wave to Snowstorms, March Goes to Extremes by Andrew Freedman of Climate Central
Extreme jet stream causing record warmth in the east, record cold in the west (January 2013)
Arctic sea ice loss tied to unusual jet stream patterns (April 2012)
Our extreme weather: Arctic changes to blame? (December 2011)
Florida shivers; Hot Arctic-Cold Continents pattern is back (December 2010)
Jet stream moved northwards 270 miles in 22 years; climate change to blame? (June 2008)

I'll have a new post on Thursday.

Jeff Masters

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Gusty Winds (novembergale)
High winds create huge waves behind ice dunes on Lake Erie this last day of winter.
Gusty Winds
After the blizzard (springsun)
Extreme severe winterconditions in the northeast of Germany, Kap Arkona. Source: wetterzentrale
After the blizzard

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318. TomTaylor
8:13 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting MississippiWx:
I admit that I used to be a skeptic on AGW. I'm sure I've had a small debate with some of you, in fact. However, I realized that I'm not a scientist that dedicates my life to studying and researching the planet's climate. Therefore, how can I offer a differing opinion that really amounts to much? If we could truly get past the human element of debate and our egotistical mindset about who is right or wrong, we might could make more progress. Personally, I see nothing wrong with making our climate cleaner and healthier to live in, but maybe that's just me. Until then, our egos will remain more important than the climate in which we and future generations live.
Fortunately, you don't need to be a climate scientist to read a graph :)




And for those who prefer satellites...

Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
317. OrchidGrower
8:10 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting RTSplayer:


....This is why I put the bumper cars picture on here the other day, because that's about what everyone will be driving. Maybe a golf cart....


Having been clobbered twice by other drivers, including one hit-n-run, my fantasy is to live on an island where we all just drive golf carts. (Then I look at Congress and think, "heck, my fantasy is simply to RETIRE....")
Member Since: September 24, 2002 Posts: 0 Comments: 398
316. TomTaylor
8:10 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting Chucktown:


My main argument, and always has been, why are we basing so much on the past 130 years. And I don't want to hear about tree rings or ice core samples - that is so inexact, it isn't funny. Give me some daily highs and lows from the the 1300 and 1400's, give me total yearly rainfall data for what is now New York City from 1245, show me the average temperature in Boston for 1196. For as much as the AGW crowd accuses the non-AGW crowd as only looking at the cooling trend over the last 10 years, you are just as guilty as basing everything on the past 130 years. Is it that much of a difference for the overall time that humans have roamed this fine planet?


I'm sure physicists would've loved to have had someone observing the universe during the first few trillionths of a second after the big bang, but the fact is, we didn't, we don't and we never will.

Regardless of the 1300s, the Earth is warming and we are responsible for some of the warming. That should be enough for you to make the right decisions.
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 19 Comments: 4358
315. FtMyersgal
8:03 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting RitaEvac:


Nope, Matagorda Bay is nowhere near Houston/Galveston, check Google maps. Oh and I'm referring to the storm Ike btw


Then why isn't your handle IkeEvac? :)
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
314. trHUrrIXC5MMX
8:02 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
check my blog for the latest Hurricane score card....
thanks for the 33 people listed.

see comment #3 down the page there.
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
313. Neapolitan
8:00 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting MAweatherboy1:
Good afternoon. Here are today's CPC temperature maps, not surprisingly they're quite similar to the last couple days. More cold.
They're not just similar, but virtually identical, which is odd given the sliding nature of the time periods encompassed by each. Though I suppose a well-placed shot of reinforcing cold air could cause such a seeming oddity...
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13803
312. RTSplayer
7:58 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting CaicosRetiredSailor:
NAS: By 2050, it’s possible to cut car petroleum use by 80 percent

It would be hard, but easier than cutting CO2 emissions by a similar amount.

by John Timmer - Mar 19 2013, 3:15pm

After years of inaction, the US government managed to cut a deal with automobile manufacturers that would prompt the first significant increases in average fuel efficiency in many years. It's part of a plan that would see the average fuel economy clear 50 miles-per-gallon by 2025. Although that may seem like a large leap, it will still leave the US' efficiency standards well below those of other industrialized nations.

A new report by the National Academies of Science looks well beyond these goalposts. It looks at what it would take to get a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030 and a full eighty percent drop by 2050. To make matters a touch more challenging, it also looks at what it would take to get an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from our light-duty vehicle fleet. The answer is that no single technology is going to be capable of all of this, which means success would require a mix of technologies on the road at the same time. According to the report, none of it will come close to happening without a concerted policy push.


They won't look anything like existing autos.

Carnot limit is 66% and existing autos are 30% efficient on the road, but average 20% efficient due to stoppage time.

Therefore you couldn't get the peak fuel efficiency above 66%, which would only amount to about a 50% reduction of fuel used.

The most efficient internal combustion engine in use is 50% efficient and is the size of a very large room, on a super-tanker.

Since it's unlikely 66% is actually attainable, since it's the "on paper" limit, then it means there is no way to cut use by 80% through efficiency improvements. This means the only options are to cut weight dramatically, or go to solar powered electric; Coal powered electric is actually dirtier than existing internal combustion engine autos. In order to get that kind of increase in total efficiency, you'd need to BOTH nearly double engine efficiency AND cut the car's weight nearly in half.

This is why I put the bumper cars picture on here the other day, because that's about what everyone will be driving. Maybe a golf cart.

Lowering the speed limit on the interstate highway is actually the easiest and most practical way to cut fuel consumption.
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
311. pcola57
7:58 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting Karlo:


Not to be rude, but "begs the question" doesn't mean "suggests the question", it a completely different usage, albeit one that has become annoyingly common. Sigh.


I edited it out as it does come across as rude..
Member Since: August 13, 2009 Posts: 13 Comments: 6915
310. wilsongti45
7:55 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting biff4ugo:
wilsong,

do you know how much of the ice circulation is due to wind over the ice vs. currents under the ice?



Here is a good article on the subject. In the short term the wind is the driving force in ice circulation. Over larger time scales, ocean currents are more important.

Link
Member Since: February 20, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 185
309. kwgirl
7:52 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting VR46L:



I always thought Rita was a Gal .....;)
A bitter female at that!
Member Since: March 28, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 1532
308. RitaEvac
7:50 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting FtMyersgal:


Are you from Matagorda Bay? Glad to hear your damage was not to bad


Nope, Matagorda Bay is nowhere near Houston/Galveston, check Google maps. Oh and I'm referring to the storm Ike btw
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
307. MAweatherboy1
7:50 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Good afternoon. Here are today's CPC temperature maps, not surprisingly they're quite similar to the last couple days. More cold.



Member Since: February 11, 2012 Posts: 84 Comments: 8046
306. KEEPEROFTHEGATE (Mod)
7:50 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Member Since: July 15, 2006 Posts: 178 Comments: 56140
305. CaicosRetiredSailor
7:48 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
304. FtMyersgal
7:48 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting RitaEvac:


What do ya mean? But as far as damage I was very lucky, no shingles missing, fence stayed up, but did lean slightly on north side of backyard from rocking back and forth when ground started loosening up.


Are you from Matagorda Bay? Glad to hear your damage was not to bad
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
303. CaicosRetiredSailor
7:47 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
NAS: By 2050, it’s possible to cut car petroleum use by 80 percent

It would be hard, but easier than cutting CO2 emissions by a similar amount.

by John Timmer - Mar 19 2013, 3:15pm

After years of inaction, the US government managed to cut a deal with automobile manufacturers that would prompt the first significant increases in average fuel efficiency in many years. It's part of a plan that would see the average fuel economy clear 50 miles-per-gallon by 2025. Although that may seem like a large leap, it will still leave the US' efficiency standards well below those of other industrialized nations.

A new report by the National Academies of Science looks well beyond these goalposts. It looks at what it would take to get a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use by 2030 and a full eighty percent drop by 2050. To make matters a touch more challenging, it also looks at what it would take to get an 80 percent reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from our light-duty vehicle fleet. The answer is that no single technology is going to be capable of all of this, which means success would require a mix of technologies on the road at the same time. According to the report, none of it will come close to happening without a concerted policy push.
Member Since: July 12, 2007 Posts: 0 Comments: 6069
302. RitaEvac
7:47 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting FtMyersgal:


Well are you gonna give up the city? And did you have damage?


What do ya mean? But as far as damage I was very lucky, no shingles missing, fence stayed up, but did lean slightly on north side of backyard from rocking back and forth when ground started loosening up.
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
301. FtMyersgal
7:43 PM GMT on March 20, 2013
Quoting RitaEvac:


Between Houston and Galveston


Well are you gonna give up the city? Is it Matagorda Bay? And did you have damage?
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Rita is dyslexic. Here real name is Tira. :)

RE, don't you wish you would have evacuated for Don now?
Rookie... 5 out of 4 people have Dyslexia
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6000
Quoting FtMyersgal:


Ok was it Houston instead of Galveston?


Between Houston and Galveston
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting RitaEvac:


Getting warm


Ok was it Houston instead of Galveston?
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:


Rita is dyslexic. Here real name is Tira. :)

RE, don't you wish you would have evacuated for Don now?


Wrong way Don
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Alabama Power ‏@alabamapower 6m
This is more common than we thought - many roads not yet passable, even on Wednesday.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting FtMyersgal:


I think you are a guy and your handle makes referrence to you having to evacuate Galveston for Hurricane Rita


Getting warm
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting Some1Has2BtheRookie:



Uh oh. That may not be the best site to have RE feel special.


O.K., I see. So then a last offer for today: another site including younger people (though I don't know who they are), lol.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
293. Karlo
Quoting pcola57:


Not trying to be rude jonger1150 but..
That begs the question.."Why are you here?"


Not to be rude, but "begs the question" doesn't mean "suggests the question", it a completely different usage, albeit one that has become annoyingly common. Sigh.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
292. MTWX
Quoting GeorgiaStormz:


not sure what to make of it...ecmwf is strange tooo...lot of warm front rain


Thats what's getting me too! ECMWF is showing the warm sector will not make it onshore to destabilize the area, yet the GFS is showing a senerio similar to what happened Monday!
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Even though 57% here think you are a female named Rita


Rita is dyslexic. Here real name is Tira. :)

RE, don't you wish you would have evacuated for Don now?
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4772
Quoting txjac:


Mine is the same as Saddam Hussein ....yikes!
That sucks worser
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6000
Quoting RitaEvac:


That's what....SHE said....


I think you are a guy and your handle makes referrence to you having to evacuate Galveston for Hurricane Rita
Member Since: September 16, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 1219
288. txjac
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
My birthday is the same as O.J. Simpson...July 9th... Something to be proud of


Mine is the same as Saddam Hussein ....yikes!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
wilsong,

do you know how much of the ice circulation is due to wind over the ice vs. currents under the ice?

Member Since: December 28, 2006 Posts: 116 Comments: 1605
With some hopeful environemental news a good night from Germany:

'Thrown Away by the Ton': EU Takes On Wasteful Fishing Methods
By Julia Koch

Each day, fishermen throw away countless tons of unintentionally caught marine animals, many of them dead or dying. As the European Union prepares to ban the practice, biologists are developing methods of reducing what's known as by-catch.

Read the whole article on Spiegel English
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting AGWcreationists:
Hey, if global warming gets as bad as some here predict, you might get a Cat 2 blowing in from Lake Huron.


Look! It's already started! Panic!





(Unless mesoscale vortices don't count...)
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting MrMixon:
Alarmist, indeed. It's too bad this can't be a forum for the rational exchange of information and ideas - but clearly we're all too busy losing our minds with panic to engage in such things...



(Note - please ignore the 3 or 4 dozen posts above that are providing straight information about active or recent weather events and science).


Maybe they could spice up this site with a video game.

Title: FEMA Director

Plot: Gamer must plan and respond to countless disaster scenarios.

Obstacles: Unreasonable government regulations, unreasonable citizens, decaying infrastructure, poor funding, etc.

Modes: Local, regional, national

Bonus Rounds: Double Whammy, and EOT
Member Since: January 25, 2012 Posts: 33 Comments: 1520
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
You're up Rita


That's what....SHE said....
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Beg to differ

Quoting barbamz:


Take some comfort from this site, you poor one, lol.


Uh oh. That may not be the best site to have RE feel special. According to that website, there has been no one of interest born on December 27 since 1990! But, then again, I guess you have to be around for awhile before you are considered interesting. .... That is what I keep hoping for! ... I am now curious as to what the actual time frame is for that to happen?
Member Since: August 24, 2010 Posts: 0 Comments: 4772
Quoting VR46L:



I always thought Rita was a Gal .....;)
You're up Rita
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6000
Quoting MTWX:
Afternoon everyone!

Waiting to see if the models come into better agreement with the severe potential this weekend. We really don't need it right now, still trying to clean up after Monday!!

PS. Ya'll are cracking me up with jonger1150!! LOL!!!


not sure what to make of it...ecmwf is strange tooo...lot of warm front rain
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting Jedkins01:



I have no idea, I've never even been to New Jersey and I don't know much about the region either.


No lines run thru southern Jersey

Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
278. VR46L
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Even though 57% here think you are a female named Rita



I always thought Rita was a Gal .....;)
Member Since: March 1, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 6998
Quoting FtMyersgal:


Is there fracking going on in South Jersey?



I have no idea, I've never even been to New Jersey and I don't know much about the region either.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Alarmist, indeed. It's too bad this can't be a forum for the rational exchange of information and ideas - but clearly we're all too busy losing our minds with panic to engage in such things...



(Note - please ignore the 3 or 4 dozen posts above that are providing straight information about active or recent weather events and science).
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting RitaEvac:


Whoooooooooopieeeeeee!!

;-)
Even though 57% here think you are a female named Rita
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6000
Quoting PalmBeachWeather:
Yes you are special Rita E


Whoooooooooopieeeeeee!!

;-)
Member Since: July 14, 2008 Posts: 2 Comments: 9686
Quoting jonger1150:


This website is generally constant tropical updates and the layout stinks... Why would I comment much on tropical systems living in Michigan?
Hey, if global warming gets as bad as some here predict, you might get a Cat 2 blowing in from Lake Huron.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
272. MTWX
Afternoon everyone!

Waiting to see if the models come into better agreement with the severe potential this weekend. We really don't need it right now, still trying to clean up after Monday!!

PS. Ya'll are cracking me up with jonger1150!! LOL!!!
Member Since: July 20, 2009 Posts: 23 Comments: 1393
Quoting RTSplayer:
This site is a business venture, BTW, users should not be directly or indirectly discouraging other uses from using the site.
Never happen here RTS
Member Since: October 3, 2008 Posts: 0 Comments: 6000
Quoting luvtogolf:
Al Gore, the creator of the internet (LOL) is a total joke and those that believe in his human caused theories are a joke. JB


In accordance with your logic, the internet is not real then. Most people who seriously follow climate change don't listen much to Al Gore. I honestly don't even know what he has said or done for the better part of a decade. Maybe he is a good science communicator, maybe not. Nature is indifferent to Al Gore's views, however.
Member Since: February 20, 2012 Posts: 0 Comments: 185
Member Since: April 23, 2011 Posts: 104 Comments: 14873
Quoting jonger1150:
I rarely find anything interesting on these blogs...
Thank you for keeping that streak alive.

;-)
Member Since: November 8, 2009 Posts: 4 Comments: 13803

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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.

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