New Blast of Cold Air Invades Midwest U.S.

By: Dr. Jeff Masters , 3:31 PM GMT on February 26, 2014

Share this Blog
47
+

A frigid blast of Arctic air will bring some of the coldest late February temperatures seen in decades to the eastern 2/3 of the U.S. this week, with temperatures 15 - 30° below normal commonplace. The cold air isn't going anywhere fast, and will stick around through early next week. The cold blast is due to an extreme jet stream pattern we have seen before this winter--a sharp ridge of high pressure over California, and a large trough of low pressure over Eastern North America. This upper air pattern was described by the National Weather Service in Buffalo, New York on Tuesday as one that occurs less than once every 30 years in late February. The intense cold is already affecting the Upper Midwest this Wednesday morning. My vote for worst winter weather of the day goes to Central Minnesota at Alexandria, where a temperature of -8°F this morning combined with winds of 14 mph to make a wind chill of -28°. The winds are expected to increase to 25 - 30 mph Wednesday afternoon with higher gusts, creating blizzard conditions. In Chicago, the intense cold is expected to put the December - February average temperature for this winter below 19°, making the winter of 2013 - 2014 the 3rd coldest winter in the Windy City's history. Only the winters of 1978 - 1979 and 1903 - 1904 were colder.


Figure 1. Great Lake ice cover as seen on February 19, 2014, by the MODIS instrument on NASA's Aqua satellite. Ice cover on North America’s Great Lakes reached 88 percent in mid-February 2014—levels not observed since 1994. The average maximum ice extent since 1973 is just over 50 percent. It has surpassed 80 percent just five times in four decades. The lowest average ice extent occurred in 2002, when only 9.5 percent of the lakes froze. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory.

Rain coming to California
Unlike previous versions of this extreme jet stream pattern, though, the ridge over the Western U.S. will not be very persistent. The ridge of high pressure over California, which brought numerous record high temperatures for the date on Tuesday, will get broken down by a weak low pressure system on Wednesday and Thursday. On Friday and Saturday, a more intense storm system will smash through the ridge, bringing moderate to heavy rain to much of drought-parched California. This storm will then track eastwards, potentially bringing a major snowstorm and destructive ice storm on Monday to Illinois, Kentucky, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, and portions of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast U.S.


Figure 2. Departure of temperature from average at 2 meters (6.6') as diagnosed by the GFS model at 00 UTC February 26, 2014. A negative phase of the Arctic Oscillation (AO) created a sharp kink in the jet stream (Figure 3), which allowed cold air to spill southwards out of the Arctic over the Eastern U.S. Compensating warm air flowed northwards into the Arctic underneath ridges of high pressure over Alaska and Europe. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.


Figure 3. Winds at a height where the pressure is 250 mb show the axis of the jet stream, seen here at 00 UTC February 26, 2014. A sharp trough of low pressure was present over the Eastern U.S., and unusually strong ridges of high pressure were over the Western U.S. and the North Atlantic. Data/image obtained using Climate Reanalyzer™ (http://cci-reanalyzer.org), Climate Change Institute, University of Maine, Orono, Maine.

Wanted: professionals willing to speak about climate change to local groups
If you are a professional or graduate student with a strong background in climate science, the world needs you to reach out to local audiences at schools, retirement homes, the Chamber of Commerce, etc., and share your expertise. A new initiative by the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) and the United Nations Foundation called climatevoices.org is launching a Science Speakers Network this spring, with the goal of bringing scientists and their local communities together for real dialogue on climate science that speaks to citizens’ current and future well-being and responsibility as members of a community and democracy. Materials for context-setting presentations will be offered as will coaching regarding how to begin conversations about climate change with fellow citizens. If you are interested in volunteering for this network, please go to climatevoices.org and create a profile.  Profiles will “go public” when the full web site is launched in April. Once you create a profile, you will be kept up to date on Climate Voices progress including construction of the full web site, availability of presentation materials, webinar coaching, and plans for project launch. For any questions, please contact: Cindy Schmidt (UCAR), cschmidt@ucar.edu. I have my own set of slides I use for such talks that anyone is welcome to borrow from, available at http://www.wunderground.com/hurricane/2013/climatetalk.ppt.

Jeff Masters

Snowy Friday (Beaker)
After a major winter storm in the Twin Cities area, I spent Friday afternoon capturing a glimpse of the beauty left in the aftermath of the storm.
Snowy Friday

Reader Comments

Comments will take a few seconds to appear.

Post Your Comments

Please sign in to post comments.

or Join

Not only will you be able to leave comments on this blog, but you'll also have the ability to upload and share your photos in our Wunder Photos section.

Display: 0, 50, 100, 200 Sort: Newest First - Order Posted

Viewing: 39 - 1

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 — Blog Index

Quoting 37. luvtogolf:
I will continue to reach out and do my part in preaching the truth about Climate Change.

I always enjoy reading a minimalistic trolling approach. Thanks.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 37. luvtogolf:
I will continue to reach out and do my part in preaching the truth about Climate Change.



I think I will help with this endeavor......
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
I will continue to reach out and do my part in preaching the truth about Climate Change.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 23. NCstu:
this is one of those seemingly contradictory things. Global warming is making North America cold just has a funny ring to it. I'm of the opinion that that is exactly the case though so no need to argue that point. However, even though it makes sense in hindsight I saw no predictions, not even this fall, consistent with this outcome. That leads me to my next question/comments. I am curious about what progress has been made in measuring oceanic heat content.

Will these Kelvin waves tell us anything about heat content at depth? Do we really know how much heat content is at depth? Would bringing warmer water to the surface compound problems with global warming or mitigate them?

I see arguments along the lines of "most heat is stored in the ocean and warmer waters will trap more carbon and produce more carbon consuming organisms and bla bla bla" I don't buy it, but on the other hand, what evidence is there that the current state of the ocean will have predictable effects? Do those arguments deserve more consideration?


Global warming isn't making N. America colder over time. A below average temperature is not something that is out of the question, there is still regional variability within the climate. Link

As for ocean heat content measurement, Levitus et al 2012 (Link) really nailed it. They have created the standard for oceanic heat content measurement that produced:



and



When all that warm water comes up, especially in the Pacific in the case of an El-Nino world temperatures just skyrocket, see: 1998.

As for the mechanism by which the ocean stores heat energy, Trenberth Link Link started the discussion, and the newest research Link expands on that idea.

I hope this helps.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12z gfs sfc press precip shield hr 120

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12z gfs sfc press precip shield hr 114

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
12z gfs sfc press precip shield hr 108

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
THIS HAZARDOUS WEATHER OUTLOOK IS FOR EAST CENTRAL FLORIDA.

.DAY ONE...TODAY AND TONIGHT.

.THUNDERSTORM IMPACT...
A SLOW MOVING COLD FRONT WILL PUSH INTO CENTRAL FLORIDA THIS
AFTERNOON. SHOWERS AND ISOLATED LIGHTNING STORMS WILL PRECEDE THE
FRONT...STARTING NORTH OF THE I-4 CORRIDOR AROUND MIDDAY AND
SPREADING SOUTH THROUGH THE AFTERNOON...THEN CONTINUING OVERNIGHT.
DUE TO ONLY MARGINAL AMOUNTS OF INSTABILITY AND CLOUD COVER MOST OF
THE RAINFALL WILL BE IN THE FORM OF SHOWERS. WIND SPEEDS ABOVE THE
SURFACE ARE STRONG ENOUGH THAT AN ISOLATED STORM OR TWO MAY PRODUCE
STRONG WIND GUSTS BETWEEN 40 AND 50 MPH AND PERHAPS SMALL HAIL.
REMEMBER...ALL THUNDERSTORMS PRODUCE LIGHTNING AND SHOULD BE
CONSIDERED DANGEROUS. CEASE OUTDOOR ACTIVITY IMMEDIATELY AND MOVE
INDOORS IF THUNDER IS HEARD.

Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
earth


Date | 2014-02-26 13:00 Local 1 pm est

Data | Wind + Temp @ Surface

Scale |

Source | GFS / NCEP / US National Weather Service


Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Live earthquake map................Link
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
90% rain chances for my area tonight..............
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
Quoting 23. NCstu:
this is one of those seemingly contradictory things. Global warming is making North America cold just has a funny ring to it. I'm of the opinion that that is exactly the case though so no need to argue that point. However, even though it makes sense in hindsight I saw no predictions, not even this fall, consistent with this outcome. That leads me to my next question/comments. I am curious about what progress has been made in measuring oceanic heat content.

Will these Kelvin waves tell us anything about heat content at depth? Do we really know how much heat content is at depth? Would bringing warmer water to the surface compound problems with global warming or mitigate them?

I see arguments along the lines of "most heat is stored in the ocean and warmer waters will trap more carbon and produce more carbon consuming organisms and bla bla bla" I don't buy it, but on the other hand, what evidence is there that the current state of the ocean will have predictable effects? Do those arguments deserve more consideration?
im curious, what happens IF..GW makes the southern half of our planet warmer and the northern half colder?
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
a GoPro capture from the storm tonight.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 20. yonzabam:


I think that when it dawned on you that you wouldn't be coming back, you're enthusiasm might wane. It's a one way trip.
yes thats true but for this organization to be already signing up so many people there probably be shuttle flights back and forth,have no idea on length of flights..maybe years inbetween planets but if they are young enough..wow
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
this is one of those seemingly contradictory things. Global warming is making North America cold just has a funny ring to it. I'm of the opinion that that is exactly the case though so no need to argue that point. However, even though it makes sense in hindsight I saw no predictions, not even this fall, consistent with this outcome. That leads me to my next question/comments. I am curious about what progress has been made in measuring oceanic heat content.

Will these Kelvin waves tell us anything about heat content at depth? Do we really know how much heat content is at depth? Would bringing warmer water to the surface compound problems with global warming or mitigate them?

I see arguments along the lines of "most heat is stored in the ocean and warmer waters will trap more carbon and produce more carbon consuming organisms and bla bla bla" I don't buy it, but on the other hand, what evidence is there that the current state of the ocean will have predictable effects? Do those arguments deserve more consideration?
Member Since: August 7, 2013 Posts: 0 Comments: 431
hr 72 12z gfs run sat 12z mar 1

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Just think..YOU could be voted..President of Mars!
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
Quoting 13. LargoFl:
I have to say,what an amazing adventure that would be for someone..starting the first settlement on another planet..wow..like the pioneers centuries ago huh..


I think that when it dawned on you that you wouldn't be coming back, your enthusiasm might wane. It's a one way trip.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
well its now solid overcast here by me on the west coast and the breezes are getting stronger..might be some good winds with this front ans storms when they get here..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
Quoting 8. LargoFl:
if your tired of living here..this organization is signing up people to LIVE on MARS..i think they are planning on a 2025 beginning...geez....Link
another retirement choice so now there are 3 places I can choose from
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Looks like that big jet stream loop doesn't reach the UK this time. Or maybe that's just me being optimistic.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 10. Birthmark:

If I was single, I'd sign on. At my age I'd have a reasonable shot at being the first person to die on Mars. I'd be a historical footnote!
in case your wondering..here's the weather on mars..just to stay on this blogs topic lol...Link
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
hr 60 gfs 12z run acc precip

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Even Lake Erie, completely frozen.

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 10. Birthmark:

If I was single, I'd sign on. At my age I'd have a reasonable shot at being the first person to die on Mars. I'd be a historical footnote!
I have to say,what an amazing adventure that would be for someone..starting the first settlement on another planet..wow..like the pioneers centuries ago huh..
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
It sure is going to be cold - Went to work this morning in KC mo area, it was 7 degrees. Been ages since I remember it being that cold this late in Feb.

And the incoming snow storm - it cannot make up its mind from dusting to 6+ inches (I say 6+ because a few model runs early on predicted 6-11 inches, I always lean towards 6 :) )

does not appear to be the last cold snap - March looks to be below normal potentially as well.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Speaking of Lake Michigan, here are the graphs that show the Ice Cover and temperatures as related to recent years. It is colder than it has been in some time, obviously.



Note the black line (2014) is at the bottom of the graph.



Link
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Quoting 8. LargoFl:
if your tired of living here..this organization is signing up people to LIVE on MARS..i think they are planning on a 2025 beginning...geez....Link

If I was single, I'd sign on. At my age I'd have a reasonable shot at being the first person to die on Mars. I'd be a historical footnote!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
that's a good read doc thanks

now we wait to see how things play out over cali then east from there

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
if your tired of living here..this organization is signing up people to LIVE on MARS..i think they are planning on a 2025 beginning...geez....Link
Member Since: August 6, 2011 Posts: 4 Comments: 38478
Thanks Dr Masters. Hopefully California gets plenty of rain from the upcoming event.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks Jeff...
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Great post Dr. Master's. I will pass along the information regarding to the program to some friends and colleagues. Although my work in the social sciences isn't with climate science directly, it sounds like it would be an amazing program to be a part of.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks Dr. M! Cold weather indeed. I feel for those Californians, they need H20!

Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks, Dr. Masters. Your last link appears to not work.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks Doc great post!
Member Since: Posts: Comments:
Thanks, Dr. Masters.
Member Since: Posts: Comments:

Viewing: 39 - 1

Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14 | 15 — Blog Index

Top of Page

About

Jeff co-founded the Weather Underground in 1995 while working on his Ph.D. He flew with the NOAA Hurricane Hunters from 1986-1990.

Local Weather

Mostly Cloudy
75 °F
Mostly Cloudy