Ph.D. Student - Earth System Science (UC Irvine), B.Sc. - Atmospheric Sciences (Cornell University)
By: Zachary Labe , 8:58 PM GMT on January 04, 2012
"Afternoon Thoughts" (Updated 1/4)
You are at a stop light. You are in a rush. You look to the person sitting in the car beside you. Facial expressions can tell quite a bit about a person. Malcom Gladwell's "Blink" details the series of facial expressions allowing a person to make instant predictions in a way of mind reading. You have likely made a subconscious determination on the type of day that person is having in the car beside you.
I bring this up at the end of a very hectic and volatile period for many consumers as the mad holiday shopping scene comes to a close. During this period our subconscious seems preoccupied with worries about the next gift that needs to be purchased or meal which needs to exquisite to impress the inlaws. We quickly forget our sense of manners. Retail is a very difficult position given the high interaction with the general public. To put it politely, the general public is a very rude. For many people they do not seem to care about other's emotions. It most cases the problems at retail stores exist with the 'higher ups' and not so much the people on the floor. People may say customer service is on the decline, but courtesy by the customer is declining even more rapidly. Consumers will not take no as an answer and have no care for the stores where they make their purchases. Instead of returning an unwanted item back to where they found it, they sit it on a completely opposite location. They rely on 'someone else' to return it for them instead of spending a minute to reposition the object. Many times I have waited in lines to see consumers ahead of me nearly yelling at retailers for their dissatisfaction. Humans are not wired to be perfect; in fact our poor qualities are often evident.
The next time when interacting as a consumer, take a moment to make a conscious choice to notice the facial expression of the other person. They may be having a great day. Or maybe they are having a terrible day. We are all equals and we must take a moment to slow down our fast paced 21st century lives while becoming a more understandable person.
"Current Surface Plot"
(Courtesy of HPC)
(Courtesy of Wunderground)
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"Forecast Discussion"(Updated 1/4)
A very quiet 7-day weather period is likely over the Northeast associated with a very progressive flow. Wednesday night will feature a weak series of vortices sparking a light snow returns on the radar across southern Pennsylvania and northern Maryland. Current meso obs are reporting dew points in the single digits, which will likely prevent any organized light snow activity from forming. Recent HRRR model runs and other guidance suggest a period of flurries and light snow showers forming over this area despite the widespread dry air. QPF remains less than .05in with any snow accumulations limited to a dusting to maybe 1in over very isolated locations. None the less given the very cold temperatures, even a dusting can cause travel problems. Current infrared thermometer reports indicate road temperatures remain in the upper 20s or lower. As the series of shortwaves move through, the flow will shift to the northwest despite a gradual WAA flow. This will increase snow shower activity especially southeast of Lake Ontario. Any lake effect snow accumulation will be limited to a few inches or less over isolated locations. WAA and increasing subsidence will cap any snow shower activity by Thursday morning. H85 thermals will begin to slowly rise above 0C on Thursday, but boundary layer temperatures will generally average near normal.
An increasing westerly and southerly flow with increasing heights will support a mild period from Friday to Sunday as temperatures average well above normal ahead of the next cold front. Sunshine will prevail over much of the region Friday before a cirrus deck enters the Northeast and begins to thicken and lower on Saturday associated with a lee trough. The cold front will move through Saturday night into Sunday, but weak forcing will inhibit any precipitation. QPF totals are meager and most guidance ranges from 0.00 to 0.1in over isolated locations. Precipitation will be in the form of rain with 1000-500mb thicknesses as high as 555dm up to I-80. The push of cold air on Sunday will be gradual as the air mass will have Pacific origins. High pressure will also move over the region preventing any lake effect and upslope snows from forming.
Overall the next seven days will be very quiet weather wise with temperature means above normal for all climatological reporting stations. A few global models have hinted at a storm system by midweek next week, but given the lack of blocking, precipitation has a higher chance for rain for most locations with any storm system probably cutting up through the Ohio Valley.
(Courtesy of Penn State Meteo.)
"Current Water Vapor Loop"
(Courtesy of Penn State Meteo.)
"Lake Effect Snow Conditions" (Updated 1/4)
Two vortices will be rotating through the Northeast Wednesday night, but dynamics are relatively meager. In fact temperatures will begin to rise Wednesday night associated with some weak warm air advection. Despite this flow of Lake Ontario will give way to light lake effect snow Wednesday night through Thursday morning with a northwest flow. High resolution guidance is only printing out around 0.05in QPF, but a few disorganized bands are possible. Light snow accumulations southeast of Lake Ontario are possible towards the northern finger lakes and southern Tug Hill plateau. These accumulations will range from 1-4in from Utica to Cortland to Dryden, NY. Also a few HRRR runs have produced a light band off Erie up through Buffalo, but any accumulations will be less than 1-2in most likely. As warm air advection continues to increase Thursday, subsidence will cut off any lake effect snow showers by midday. The lakes will take a break from any snow production for several days as upper level heights increase with ridging over much of the region. Temperatures will rise to well above normal by the weekend. A weak cold front will move through in the Sunday time frame, but high pressure will quickly move in for the beginning of next week preventing any lake effect snow formation. The next seven days look relatively quiet in this regard.
Over the last few days lake effect squalls have widely impacted travel across much of the snow belt regions, but general accumulations especially across New York state were generally less than expected especially around the Finger Lakes and Tug Hill Plateau region. Bands remain disorganized off of Lake Ontario likely due to an area of subsidence ahead of the arctic front and then increasing shear values after the frontal passage. Most accumulations were around 4-10in over the Tug Hill plateau and only 1-2in for the Finger Lakes region. These accumulations were around 50% lower than expected. Accumulations ranged around 6-12in for the Laurel Highlands in Pennsylvania and 12-15in across western Maryland. These accumulations were expected by forecasts and definitely increased snow levels for many ski areas. Outside the lower accumulations in New York state, most snowfall panned out generally as expected. The highest snow accumulations were from northeastern Ohio into northwestern Pennsylvania and into the Chautauqua Ridge area in southwestern New York ranging from 20-24in. Given the cold air mass and very dry snowfall, much of the snow has sublimated and compacted so snow depths are already rapidly waning. Most of the snow pack will be depleted by this coming Sunday as temperatures increase above normal. This will continue to cause near record low levels of snow in the snow belt regions.
"Current Great Lakes Water Temperatures"
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"Current River Ice Reports and Ski Conditions" (Updated 1/4)
The recent mild weather has prevented any ice formation along major waterways including rivers and lakes. In fact Lake Erie is even remaining nearly 5F above normal with very little if any ice formation. Most smaller farm ponds have recently acquired ice given this recent 2-3 day arctic blast as low temperatures dropped from -10F across the Alleghany plateau to +10F in the southeastern parts of Pennsylvania. Elsewhere in the Northeast ice formation on most ponds is certainly too thin for ice fishing as far north as Maine and generally remains less than 4in in thickness. The weather will begin to shift towards the coldest part of the climatological winter and therefore ice thicknesses will increase especially for northern New England. The ice fishing industry has certainly taken a hit from Pennsylvania to Maine, but conditions will be improving. It appears several arctic blasts are possible around the day 10 period and this will assist in a more winter like regime outdoors.
Ski conditions have been very poor across the Northeast and limited to snow making machines. The best conditions are being reported in northern Vermont across the favorable upslope locations in the Green Mountains particularly towards Stowe and Killington. Over the past 7 days nearly 2ft of natural snow has fallen in these upslope locations courtesy of Lake Ontario and Lake Champlain enhancement; still only about 50% of the trails remain open. Locations across the Berkshires and in the White Mountains have also been suffering with very little if any natural snow. Natural snow accumulations in this region have been less than 5in over the last two weeks. Ski conditions are improving towards western New York and western Pennsylvania where lake effect snows have laid down a general 5-12in of snow. Seven Springs in the Laurel Highlands is reporting quite a bit of natural snow over the last few days along with machine snow. Locations outside the highest elevations and snow belts have relied on pure man-made snow; fortunately conditions have finally become cold enough for those locations to open to the public.
The outlook for the next seven days looks relatively poor with few chances for snow. Light lake effect snow is possible Wednesday night into Thursday across western New York around the Chautauqua Ridge region, but accumulations will remain less than 4in. Also light upslope snow is possible in this period in northwestern Vermont, but accumulations will only average 1-3in. Temperatures will begin to increase by the weekend averaging nearly 10F above normal on Saturday. Early guidance suggested a storm system associated with a cold front on Sunday, but any QPF will be light and likely rain for most areas. A more sustained colder regime may be possible by mid week next week, but that remains to be seen. For now enjoy the best conditions of the winter for skiing locations over the next 24-48 hours.
-Link to official reports page from NWS... Link.
-Link to local ski resort snow conditions... Link.
"Current Northeast Snow Depth and Northeast Wind chills"
(Courtesy of Wunderground)
"Long Term Outlook" (Updated 1/4)
It originally appeared that January was looking to be another very mild month in this continuous string of above normal temperatures. But several recent changes in global wavelengths are suggesting the very mild regime will be a bit more tamed than originally expected. The forecasted SSW (sudden stratospheric warming event) is showing signs of occurring over the next two weeks with ensemble guidance strongly supported a rapid change. This SSW corresponds with a temporary decline in the CME from the sun as activity quiets for a period before becoming more active once again as suggested by astrometeorologists. The SSW often corresponds to a blocking regime allowing the Arctic Oscillation to average with a negative mean. ECMWF and GFS operational and ensemble guidance continues to indicate a decline in the AO with a drop to negative by mid January. This is also connected with a negative NAO that is now being forecast by GFS and ECMWF ensembles. MJO forecasts also appear to become a bit more favorable. Recent ensemble MJO phase forecasts appear to weaken forcing instead of rotating through phases 3-5 as originally expected. This shift in monsoonal patterns in the Indian Ocean along with suggested SSW event will support a radical change in the global jet stream wavelength patterns. This change will take place by mid January in the 6-10 time frame. While it sounds like this pattern will be ideal for a more wintry regime across the northern Hemisphere, there are several unfavorable factors, which will prevent major east coast snowstorms are a true sustained cold pattern.
The Pacific will generally become more favorable as the polar vortex shifts from Alaska towards the Hudson Bay. This will shift the coldest air southward, but the La Nina pattern will also support the continued placement of the southeast ridge. As warm air tries to move northward up the east coast and cold polar air shifts southward, a tight gradient will develop along the east coast. Placement of this thermal boundary will be critical to the location of snow vs. rain. Also the -NAO will generally be east based preventing ideal upstream blocking. Given the thermal gradient driven by the amplified southeast ridge and still unfavorable Atlantic, east coast storm systems will be limited. There will likely not by any major east coast cyclones through the end of January. Most storm systems will generally be overrunning situations as waves move along the thermal boundary. Once again, the exact placement of this boundary will be very critical for forecasts through the second half of the month. Cold air will definitely be more available in the 10-14+ day time frame, but it will be interrupted by periodic warm up periods. Therefore the two week period will likely average right around normal temperature wise.
None the less, a large pattern change is likely. Despite it still remaining not the best pattern for snow lovers, it will definitely increase the chance for wintry precipitation (especially north of the thermal gradient). And for cold lovers, this appears to be a significant Arctic blast towards the east coast around day 10. While the next 7-10 days will be boring weather wise, changes are coming. Stay tuned!
"Current NAO and PNA Predictions"
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"Anchorage, Alaska Tower Cam"
*Back due to popular demand!
"Monthly Temperature/Precipitation Outlook"(January)(Updated 1/4)
January looks to be another mild month for much of the Northeast, although will be a bit more tamed than January with lower positive temperature anomalies. The weather pattern will begin to shift associated with a SSW event and the repositioning of the polar vortex. This will be occurring towards mid month. But the La Nina pattern will continue to dominate the jet stream allowing for an amplified southeast ridge. This will continue to interrupt any chance for a sustained cold pattern through the end of January. Precipitation chances will be increasing towards the end of January as a large thermal gradient sets up across southern New England or the Middle Atlantic. A +NAO and -EPO will likely be means for the teleconnection indices. While preventing major east coast snowstorms, there will be more widespread cold increasing the probability for wintry precipitation especially for locations with increasing latitude.
Temperature- Temperatures will average slightly above normal to above normal with the highest anomalies across southern locations in the Middle Atlantic. Anomalies will range from +3.0F towards DCA to +1.5F around BOS. Given this is the height of the climatological winter, it is still possible to get snow in above normal temperature regimes. If the NAO averages with a more negative mean, it is possible the southeast ridge remains a bit more suppressed.
Precipitation- Precipitation will likely average near normal for most locations. There appears to be a lower frequency of heavy QPF events given the continued progressive flow, but several lighter events are possible especially in the second half of the month. The higher precipitation anomalies will be across northern areas towards Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine.
"Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks from Climate Prediction Center for next 30 days"
(Courtesy of NOAA)
"10mi northeast of Harrisburg 2011-2012 winter statistics"
Current Snow Cover- 0.0in
Monthly Total (October)- 5.5in
Monthly Total (November)- 0.0in
Monthly Total (December)- 0.4in
Monthly Total (January)- 0.0in
Seasonal Total- 5.9in
Winter Weather Advisories- 1
Winter Storm Warnings- 1
Ice Storm Warnings- 0
Blizzard Warnings- 0
Freezing Rain Advisories- 0
Winter Storm Watches- 1
Lowest High Temperature- 29F
Lowest Low Temperature- 10F
Wind Chill Advisories- 0
Wind Chill Warnings- 0
(Snow Storms Stats)
Historic October Nor'easter - October 29 - 5.5in of wet snow
322 Lake Effect Snow Band - December 17 - 0.3in of wet snow
Weak Clipper - December 29 - 0.1in of snow
"Local Harrisburg Radar"
(Courtesy of WGAL)
Winter Forecast 2011-2012... Link
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The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.
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