I have frequently said that among our followers we have two evenly divided teams: those that love winter, and those that hate all that it brings.
The NFL Playoffs are here, and in the spirit of the postseason let's talk about our winter through that lens.
Winter Haters: 35
Winter Lovers: 3
People will disagree on how much time is left, but generally speaking you have four months that have a "good" chance of bringing snow--December, January, February, and March. That would put us late in the second quarter. Winter Lovers, adjustments have to be made as we head into halftime!
Is it too late for a comeback?
There's a lot of time left, but Winter Lovers have looked outmatched from the very start, missing a golden opportunity to score big in the first quarter (December) which would have set the tone early.
Let's talk about the week ahead first.
Overall, the warmer than normal month is likely to continue, with more highs in the 40s and lows well above normal. Expect highs in the mid to upper 40s with a chance of showers tomorrow and overnight that won't amount to much. Chance of rain 30%. Tomorrow is sunnier than Wednesday.
This is the period for our first storm. It looks to cut to our west, meaning rain is likely on Thursday. However, there may be some energy left behind the main low that could bring light snow as colder air advects in on Friday. This is a low probability deal, but going back to the football metaphor this could be a field goal opportunity with minor snow possible if things break right. Chance of rain 80% on Thursday. Chance of snow 30% on Friday.
The weekend currently looks decent, with colder weather on Saturday and warming temperatures on Sunday. While the GFS has rain coming late on Sunday with another big "cutter" (storm that cuts to the west and brings rain) I am leaning toward the Euro with later timing. As a result, I am expecting a partly cloudy weekend. Highs in the 30s on Saturday. Highs in the 40s on Sunday. Chance of rain 20% on Sunday.
There is a big split at the end of the forecast period between the GFS and Euro. Ensembles hint at a storm (there have been no shortage of storm systems, they've just been Winter Hater touchdowns) with the GFS much warmer, and the Euro trying to bring our first real winter storm of the season.
While I lean toward the Euro with timing, I do not lean toward it on the eventual outcome. There have been a lot of missed opportunities, and while the pattern does become slightly more favorable for wintry weather by this time, there have been more false starts than I can count in a pattern that also looks pretty open for cutters. Highs in the upper 30s to low 40s both days. Chance of rain during the period 60%. Chance of snow 40%.
Now let's talk pattern.
Above is the 12z European Ensembles showing the North America pattern potential over the next ten days. The hope for Winter Lovers is that we are entering the part of the game where snow and cold is most likely. That means even a pattern that is warmer than normal or less than ideal in the upper levels is one that can produce a score. That's how Winter Lovers get back in the game.
December was about as good as a pattern could get, and it resulted in a truly historic Buffalo blizzard and virtually nothing here.
The January pattern, with more ridging near Alaska and troughing moving from the west coast toward the central US, means that we should start seeing cold building in Canada and continued storminess.
It has been active since December, and one thing that's clear to me is that this is shaping up to be a high scoring finish with a lot of storms. It's still unclear whether Winter Lovers will get on the board in a meaningful enough way for a comeback.
Overall, warmer than normal is almost certain to dominate winter, even though the extended guidance is trying to change things up at least briefly to bring in colder weather near the end of the month.
The problem is that in a La Nina, February is usually absent of wintry weather for most of the month. It's becoming critical for some of these storm chances to produce during colder periods, however transient they are, if there's any chance of getting close to a normal winter in the snow department.
This is a cross guidance signal, so I believe it's real, but the colder periods need to come with snow before the next warm up comes in February. I expect at least part of February to feature a southeast ridge that torches us, perhaps in a big way.
What happens next?
If you are looking for an above normal snowfall season, that ship has all but sailed in my opinion. In order to be in the game for that, we need a one or two big storms in the next couple of weeks and hope for a fourth quarter (March) comeback. The pattern looks to be evolving to allow for a significant rain or snow event. Nuances just before the storm (looking more at next week than this Thursday/Friday) will make the difference.
Near normal however, is still very possible if there's some modest snowfall during the next 2-3 weeks. For Winter Lovers, the mantra should be "just get on the board and build momentum".
Winter Haters are well ahead and favored to win the 2022-23 winter fight, but there's a lot of time left. A score or two before halftime could be meaningful.
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