Thursday, December 14, 2017

Solutions over problems
or as Luke Skywalker has said,
"this (winter) is not going to go the way you think!"

image credit:

(Dec 14 - Dundalk, MD) If you happen to be a Powderhound, a Star Wars--ian, AND perhaps even a student or a teacher, then WHAT an opening day this is turning out to be!?! Is it a sign of things to come for the winter ahead? Or acceptance of one truth: It's time for La Nina winters to end?

THE SHORT LIST: A situation we see unfolding into January for the Mid-Atlantic:
  • Extensive December cold & snow not seen in the eastern Mid-Atlantic this month for several years could lead to a reversal in January. Cold in the East may shift to the Midwest and Upper Plains, building snowcover in those areas, leaving eastern Powderhounds behind to watch. 
  • Two recent snow events in the East have shown us that injecting limited moisture at the right time, with a dry ground and dry air, can produce heavier snow amounts than one might think. 
THE ANALYSIS: Why it may not go the way you think.

1) ON TIME COLD: This December is the first time 2011 or 2012 that actual notable cold showed up when it is normally expected to occur, say, around the time winter starts. 
  • Remember 2 years back, when it was WARMER at Christmas than Thanksgiving? For the 2017-18 winter rodeo, we have back in the saddle a slightly higher coverage of northern snowfall and wider extent of Arctic sea ice for this time of year than in perhaps 5 years. 
2) CHRISTMAS SNOW & THE MOST WONDERFUL TIME OF THE YEAR... or not? Have you ordered a package from your favorite online retailer lately? It was probably delivered by the hard-working folks at the Post Office, UPS, Fedex or many other carriers, and they probably started working around 1 AM today. For them, it's the toughest time of the year. 
  • I worked at UPS for several years recently in the Baltimore region. During peak season, loaders begin at 12:30 AM sorting your packages. With online ordering this season up 18% from last year, any ounce of snow in the supply chain is very unwelcome.
  • It could slow down arrival of the next day's sort, and blow up all your hopes and dreams of receiving that magical item before 12/24. So if you see your loader or driver, take them some cocoa, or soda, or caffeine pills, and pray for an uneventful next 10 days. Because a calm December = on time deliveries.
3) ROLE REVERSAL Since winter is pushing the limits early this season, what does that portend for January? 
  • If we pile on too much cold too early in one part of the country, as evidenced by the snowcover map, a reversal of fortunes will be in order. 
  • The gap in snowcover seen in the Midwest and Upper plains? That area will take center stage, with eastern snow disappearing and western snow building up. 
  • What may look like a slam dunk winter of multiple snowy days may be a weather ruse. If January under-performs in the East, the plot twist we know you're waiting for might be the most interesting of all:
A frigid December, then a mild January, could turn the forces of Canadian cold back to the Powderhound side... with February having a decent chance at a winter finale we've not seen in a long time. Let us know what you think, just don't reveal any Jedi spoilers until we have had the chance to see the big reveal this weekend.