The light snow event has long passed, and as we head into the second half of January, winter is here, but for snow lovers it hasn’t quite been the transition they were hoping for. Will the legion of warm weather fans win out and see a January without many flakes or will those long-suffering snow lovers find redemption in the second half of of the month? Read below to find out.
Where we stand today
Two weeks ago, I said that winter was going to arrive and flex its muscle. I didn’t go two for two. Compared to December, we are in a dramatically different place in terms of sensible weather, but in the category that everyone cares about—regardless of whether you like it or not—not much has happened.
Grading the last outlook
Week one—Friday January 1 to Thursday January 7
Temperatures—below average (high confidence) Check -
Precipitation—below average (high confidence) Check
Wintry Precipitation—below normal (moderate confidence) Check
Week two—Friday January 8 to Thursday January 14
Temperatures—below average (moderate confidence) Wrong
Precipitation—above average (moderate confidence) Check
Wintry Precipitation—above normal (moderate confidence) Check
Where do I start? Oh, I know: forecast fail. That may be a bit harsh in reality, but In my last two week outlook, I barely missed (but missed nonetheless) on week one temps, and was blown away on temperatures in week two. If not for the minor January 12th event, this outlook would really have been in trouble. The pattern change evolved about as expected, I think, but we just didn’t produce the cold and real storminess that would have made my projections more successful. Sometimes that happens in weather. We learn and we move on. Overall grade: C
Two week outlook summary
Week one—Friday January 15 to Thursday January 21
Temperatures—below average (moderate confidence)
Precipitation—average (low confidence)
Wintry Precipitation—normal (low confidence)
The first week of the period is very tricky, because of two systems that have the potential to impact the region this weekend and early next week. The first system for Saturday has trended drier and warmer as an area of low pressure forms offshore and too far out for really heavy precipitation. What’s worse (if you like snow) is another area of low pressure in the midwest. These Great Lake lows tend to warm everything from the surface to air aloft, precluding much, if any wintry precipitation. Without a high in place, expect rain.
The second system would be better timed in terms of cold in place, but the problem is track. An area of low pressure may form in the south over the weekend, but the most reliable guidance takes this far south of the region. Things could change with this one so it is worth watching, but outside of these two potential events, expect cold conditions (with the exception of Saturday and moderating temperatures by the middle of next week)
Week two—Friday January 22 to Thursday January 28
Temperatures—above average (moderate confidence)
Precipitation—average (moderate confidence)
Wintry Precipitation—normal (low confidence)
By week two, maybe we are staring down another potential winter weather event by the beginning of the period, but the pattern looks to briefly relax, allowing for at least slightly warmer than normal days to return. Given the time of year, warmer than normal doesn’t necessarily mean no wintry precipitation chances, but it will be interesting to see if the pattern that brought us more winter like conditions will be more persistent as we head toward February.
When I began sounding the horn for the arrival of winter in my last two week outlook, I said this:
I have to say however, that you should temper your expectations. Patterns that look this good on paper may not look as good once we are closer, and patterns that are good still have to produce. Talking about potential is always tough in a business where production (emphasis added) matters, but if you like winter weather, you just want to have chances—something we didn’t have in December.
The reason why I said that, was because in weather, it doesn’t take much for things to significantly change the eventual outcome. Sometimes the pattern is there along with potential, but if things don’t align, expected conditions will not happen. No matter the long range forecast, it is vital for anyone following the weather to understand that not every threat will work out. Sometimes, it takes time for a pattern to produce—whether rain in the summer, cooler temperatures in the fall, or snow in the winter. It is important to look at the larger picture and know that you have to take your chances with what you have. Which brings me to the next few days…
There has been a lot of talk about the weekend event potential. For the second weekend in a row, I see more wet than white as a low goes to our west as another tries to pass to our south.
Now, inside about 100 hours, I start to take operational runs a bit more seriously. Within 60 hours, and you have to have quite a trend (generally) for things to shift dramatically. I feel confident that the Saturday event is a mostly rain event in Connecticut. Without a high locking in cold and a low to our west pumping in warmth, rain is the most likely outcome, if the low doesn’t end up too far southeast, which some guidance is suggesting.
As the low departs we cool down quite a bit and turn our attention toward Monday. Right now, I lean toward a complete miss, but things could change. Outside of that, a mostly mundane period looks on tap.
If you believe the ensembles, as we close out the month there may be a signal for another period of interest and a return to a better pattern.
The ensembles in the longer range have been quite a bit more volatile, and although I am showing the GEFS, I am more of a believer in the progression on the EPS (European ensembles)—I just cannot post those.
With this uncertainty, there isn’t much to say other than the Pacific pattern, which has been so active it can be argued it has hurt us with some events by sending shortwaves into less than ideal areas, doesn’t look bad. At this range with so much volatility, it is virtually impossible to accurately predict what is going to happen with various shortwaves that pass through the flow.
So there it is—something for everyone. For those that like warmth, we don’t really warm up, but there is a relaxation in the pattern that makes me a bit less bullish overall moving forward on a strong roar of winter in January. For snow lovers, I think there will be chances, and that we are not heading back to the December pattern even if we relax the current pattern a bit.
A lot is happening right now in this active period. The best we can do is turn away from hanging on every long range operational model that shows a big storm or nothing at all, and just look at what’s in front of us. The pattern is serviceable—that’s about all one (a snow lover at least) can ask for.
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