Monday, December 13, 2004


And since we've no place to go, there ain't snow, there ain't snow, there ain't snow.

I know, not the kind of ending you were expecting to that song. I continue to search the crystal ball of future forecasting, and all I am getting is a cold reception. Although the first real arctic front is going to sweep through the northeast today, all we along the I-95 corridor will get is a brief burst of scattered snow showers... enough to tease and annoy, but nothing more.

This front will deliver the first real taste of winter cold, and it is going to stay for a while. Highs Wednesday 12/15 will not reach 40 anywhere from DC north. The map below shows the coldest Christmas Eve on tap in many years. While I still believe snow will be on the ground Christmas Day, the real big storms are looking to hold off until after Santa completes his rounds.

There is a little hint of something which might slightly whiten the ground this coming weekend...
Dec 17-19, but don't get your hopes up too much.

This pattern is one of three that I use to describe the kick off into winter. The first type is the 'Storm Rush'... which takes you from a normal pattern right into a rush of storms, dropping a bit of snow along the way, examples are Decembers in 1986, 2002 and 2003. The second type is the 'Umbrella' pattern, which scares everyone with way above normal temps for many weeks, then comes crashing back down with a lots of snow at the end of December. Dec 2001 was a prime example, with almost no snow even into New England until just before Christmas. Then the rest of the winter was very cold and snowy.

Then there is the third type... the "End Game" pattern, which starts off with a gradual step down to colder weather, very little rain or snow. This arrangement puts plenty of cold air in place, teases everyone with rumors of storms, and then WHAMO... the pattern goes out with a big winter storm at the end. Prime example is Dec 63-Jan 64, cold to start, no storms until the Mid Atlantic Blizzard of Jan 11-12, 1964. So patience my friend, we'll get snow eventually.


El Nino is on our side, as this year's reading so far show a weak to moderate El Nino. That's a slight warming of Pacific currents along the equator from Mexico west. This year, water temps are running .6 to 1.0 degrees C above normal. Looking at historical records for 10 previous winters where El Nino was rated at weak to moderate, in 8 of those 10 winters, something big happened. Something very big. In fact, those 8 example winters (57-58, 63-64, 76-77, 77-78, 85-86, 92-93, 00-01, 02-03) all produced "SuperStorms" which blanketed large areas of the northeast and midwest with big time snow.

Those with long memories remember the super arctic cold of 76-78, the 78 blizzards, and who can forget the March 93 Storm of the Century, or the I-95 Big Kahuna of February 2003.

So the morale of this story is that winters which seem to take their sweet old time getting the snow machine going... usually deliver whopping storms of historical porportions. I just hope it won't take until late January or February to arrive.

Next update later this week.

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