The tropics, a possible polar low, and North American winter musings

By: Levi32 , 12:50 AM GMT on January 10, 2012

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The global tropics are fairly quiet overall, with the only activity confined to the southern Indian Ocean, where the remnants of Tropical Cyclone Chanda are beginning to exit Madagascar, leaving much of the island drenched in over a foot of rain in some places. These remnants may get stuck north of a subtropical ridge and try to regenerate later, but for now they will cease to be an immediate threat after leaving Madagascar. An invest off of northwestern Australia may become a weak tropical storm over the next few days as it moves southwards towards the west Australian coastline, bringing rain to that area, but no models strengthen it beyond manageable intensity for now.

The video shows an interesting vertically-stacked low pressure area in the Sea of Okhotsk, which may become a polar low during the next 48-72 hours as it sits nearly stationary and strengthens, in part due to warm-core processes.

Back in North America, the forecast battle for the rest of the winter continues. Blocking is due to develop up through Alaska, Siberia, and over the north pole this week, sending the arctic oscillation negative and providing a tempting look to the pattern for snowlovers in the eastern United States. However, the arctic vortex over northern Baffin Bay is remaining strong, and the blocking over the pole will do little to it except squeeze it slightly more southward and allow the northern tier states of the U.S. to get in on some seasonal cold at times during the next 10 days or so. The southeast and central part of the country will get a day or two of cold as a trough rolls through in about 96 hours, but then normal temperatures will return in its wake.

The thing about the Alaskan blocking is that such blocks loves to build up and then cut-off into blocking highs that retrograde westward into northern Russia as they weaken. Heights then crash in their wake, and the arctic vortex loves to redevelop farther west into the void left by the exiting block. All of the ensemble sets are starting to see this in the 10-15 day forecast, and I show those in the video. This would make sense also because the troughing loves to be in western Canada when the PDO is negative and cold water exists along western North America, helping heights to lower. With the arctic vortex remaining intact and shifting westward during the next two weeks, it is going to be very hard to shut off the strong zonal flow over the U.S. and get true long-lasting cold air into the eastern half of the country. As the cold builds in western Canada, some may get into the northwest U.S. and midwest as time goes on, which is only natural in this kind of a winter, but for the east and southeast, don't expect a big pattern flip going into the end of January.

We shall see what happens!

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8. ycd0108
12:34 AM GMT on January 12, 2012
Afternoon Levi:
You made the BBC News:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-1651123 5
We still have no snow on the Island but are still "Not out of the Woods" as far as this winter goes.
Member Since: January 1, 2008 Posts: 177 Comments: 4620
7. Ossqss
2:24 AM GMT on January 11, 2012

Nicely done assessment Levi! It will get interesting in about 4 weeks :-)

Member Since: June 12, 2005 Posts: 6 Comments: 8186
6. LakeWorthFinn
11:14 PM GMT on January 10, 2012
Aaaah, winter is as good as it gets in Florida :)

Good luck with cold and exams - yikes, now THERE is a nightmare combo...!
Member Since: October 6, 2005 Posts: 67 Comments: 7309
5. SPLbeater
9:24 PM GMT on January 10, 2012
Quoting Levi32:


The GFS is a failure at 2 weeks out and has been all winter so far. Ignore it.


ok..will consider that...what would you say would come to central NC around the 2-week mark?
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4485
4. Levi32
8:33 PM GMT on January 10, 2012
Quoting SPLbeater:
SO Levi, what are you thinking of this GFS-forecasted snowstorm for the east in 2 week or so?


The GFS is a failure at 2 weeks out and has been all winter so far. Ignore it.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
3. SPLbeater
7:21 PM GMT on January 10, 2012
SO Levi, what are you thinking of this GFS-forecasted snowstorm for the east in 2 week or so?
Member Since: August 4, 2011 Posts: 46 Comments: 4485
2. Levi32
6:40 AM GMT on January 10, 2012
Hey Finn! Thanks for dropping by. I hope the winter is treating you well.
Member Since: November 24, 2005 Posts: 635 Comments: 26647
1. LakeWorthFinn
5:12 AM GMT on January 10, 2012
First! So good to see you back :) Nice website. I love watching your videos and always learn new things!
Member Since: October 6, 2005 Posts: 67 Comments: 7309

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About Levi32

Levi Cowan has been tracking tropical systems since 2002, and is currently working on his bachelor's degree in physics at UAF.

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