Friday, December 4, 2015

We Hope You Don't Mind Waiting For Winter

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center is
expecting toasty times for much of the
nation for at least the next six to 10 days
and probably beyond that. 
OK, there were a couple nasty winter storms in the Midwest over the past couple of weeks, and the northern tip of Maine was under a winter storm warning Thursday.

But in general, winter is lacking is we move into normally chilly December, and don't expect things to get too Arctic in most of the good ole US of A anytime soon.

Blame El Nino, that periodic spell of unusually warm water in the eastern Pacific Ocean. It's the strongest El Nino on record, and we're really starting to feel its effects.

A weather pattern is being established that is classic El Nino for North America.

A dip in the jet stream will bring storms to much of the West Coast, mild Pacific air is flooding west to east across the nation, and a northward bulge in the jet stream over the middle and eastern part of the country, along with much of southern Canada, will enhance the warmth.

Global warming is probably playing a bit of a role in this, too,  but of course we can't credit or blame the warmth solely on climate change.

In the eastern half of the country, it's looking as if there will be little, if any chilly air through midmonth at least.

Plus the long range computer generated forecasts extending to the middle of the month are in remarkable agreement. This time of year, there's often conflicting predictions among the models.

The National Weather Service's six to 10 day forecast issued Thursday calls for above normal temperatures nationwide, except near normal on the West Coast and colder than normal in Alaska.

The eight to 14 day forecast features the appearance of some cooler than normal temperatures in the western third of the nation, as a dip in the jet stream establishes itself there as a storminess keeps coming in from the Pacific. But the rest of the nation is forecast to stay warm during that period.

There are weather pundits are saying that some areas, most likely the upper Midwest, southern Canada, especially around Manitoba, Ontario and maybe western Quebec, and possibly northern New England in the United States, could have its warmest December on record, or close to it, anyway.

I personally don't see a reason to suspect these pundits and meteorologists and climate geeks are wrong.

Another nice thing about this pattern is it brings wetness to parched California. Over the next week, moderate to heavy rain will hit the northern third to half of Cailifornia, with beneficial snows in the Sierra Nevada.

Signs point to maybe some rain sneaking into southern California in the coming weeks.

Despite the warmth, the weather pattern does suggest most of the country could start to turn rather stormy as the month progressses. That means potential bouts of heavy rain, a few bouts of dangerous mixed precipitation and wet snow in the north, and the risk of severe weather in the Southeast.

It's too early to say when, or if, any particular storm would cause these problems.

A few people are calling this potentially the year without a winter, but I definitely wouldn't go that far. There will be cold waves and snow for sure.

Also, if this shapes up like past mega-El Ninos, the first part of winter is the warmest, and the second half of winter cools off some I suspect January and February won't be as extremely warm as December is shaping up to be.

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