(it was a) DISAPPOINTING DECEMBER
(that will lead to) AN ACTION-PACKED JANUARY
AND A VERY FABULOUS FEBRUARY
I promise. Just you wait and see what's going to happen.
January update pending: The Official Foot's Forecast for Winter 06-07. It's not going to be terribly earth-shattering, might even leave a few of us wanting more, but I believe overall this upcoming crib of cold we call "Meteorological Winter" will overall give those of us who love big storms something to talk about...at least twice in the next 3 months. For those who don't have a lot of time to sift through endless pontification, here's the summary as short as I can make it: For my central and southern I-95 readers, (from NYC to Virginia) I still believe most of your snow will come in 2 bigger storms and 1 smaller storm. The same hold for interior dwellers, except that your totals will be higher. For our New England friends, I'm still not ready to go all out and say you'll have a blockbuster winter like in recent years, quite frankly I'm leaning towards you having less snow than recently, (say 125% of normal instead of 150%) but still above normal.
FOOT'S SHORT LIST FOR WINTER 06-07
Note: This forecast is valid for the regions that include the I-95 corridor from Richmond to Boston, and interior sections of the states which are crossed by 95. The western edge of my forecasting is established along a line from Jay Peak, Vermont..to Binghamton, NY, to Altoona, PA...to Roanoke, VA. When winter storm conditions permit, I will also extend the line to include the eastern deep South from central Alabama northeast through the southern Appalachians back to Roanoke.
1.DECEMBER: Overall a disappointing, near-normal month for temperatures, below average for snow, above average rainfall. I sense late this month we'll start hearing people say, "I guess that little cold snap early on is all we're going to see." Rumors of a near record-heat wave on Christmas Day (let's say, in the 50's and 60's) might fuel the fiction that "This year, winter ended before it even started." Any big storms are going to be confined to the Mid and Far West, and northern New England. Given the current unfavorable pattern for classic nor-easters, I am more apt to say the Deep South will get freak snow/ice in late December from an over-running event than for us along I-95 to see anything appreciable before Dec 27. Interior Mid-Atlantic and Northeast will have their usual clippers and enhanced lake-effect so the ski resorts can at least get something on the ground by Christmas. The situation driving my thinking is the current cold snap and the positive NAO. Things just got too cold, too quickly and much too early. With no blocking in place or even remotely predicted, it'll take a while (at least 3 weeks) for another Arctic high to recharge and deliver cold air just in time for an amplifying jet stream to send a southern soaker toward us impatient Yankees. Many of you know the winter storm recipe and I just don't see it in the tea leaves or anywhere else anytime soon: a cold High parked in SE Canada showing that tell-tale damming signature.
2.JANUARY. Thanks to the disappointing December delay, I think this is the month winter strikes back and with the NAO likely to drift toward neutral by this time, it is bound to go negative at some point especially if we (read Ohio Valley, Mid-Atl, NE) get another freak warm spell later in December like we did late last week followed by a cold front. Given Atlantic SST's what they are, I think somewhere mid-January would be enough time for all the stars to properly align (the "stars" being the PNA, NAO, a Southern Stream bowing north, and a brief Greenland Block). Granted I am making this up in the sense that no model can accurately spit all that out 45 days in advance. However I think of the atmosphere as a fluid experiment with time limits. It will take a certain amount of time for all the indices to reach the ideal tipping point that enables air masses to interact in a way to deliver a snowstorm. I think that time period is roughly 30-45 days from now, after we get a few warm spells over with. The areas targeted for this star-studded mid-January event will be the I-95 corridor and interior from Atlanta to southern New England. My analog for this winter is 86-87, with the potential for a repeat of the January 22, 1987 storm that brough 12" to Philly. I remember December 86 was uninspiring, for example on Christmas day at my home in the suburbs, it was 50F and probably cloudy (according to wunderground.com). Whatever storm arrives in January will help set the stage for one,possibly two events in February.
3.FEBRUARY: My early thinking is a couple rapid-fire storms that will be fun to forecast, but wear us all down with shoveling and bitter cold. The justification is that once the atmosphere gets into it's storm production pattern, I believe we'll see a 3-4 week period starting with Kahuna # 1 (mid-January) that kicks out two more by February 20, and then the engine sputters out. We'll come to call Kahunas 2 or 3 "El Nino" storms due to the possibility the ENSO index might be firmly established in the "moderate" phase by then.
4. MARCH: I believe early Spring 07 will resemble 06. Long cooler than normal, everyone waiting for some end-of-winter promised final storm that never arrives. This will be a bonus to Spring sports folks, (in central and southern I-95 regions) who I think will be able to kick off their practice season just fine in early March. Each spring we wonder if there's a chance of a March 1993 or 1958 repeat, and the reason I think that's off the table this year is El Nino. If my Kahunas 2 and 3 don't materialize, then we'll look back and know that the pattern was overwhelmed by a stronger than anticpated El Nino. Remember classic winter storm years were those that recorded a weak to moderate ENSO...from .5 to no more than 1.5 degree C above normal. (Forecaster friends, correct that if my numbers are off a bit).
I am open to the idea of a reliable reader who is willing to serve as accountability partner and make sure I don't backpedal on my ideas or overstate. The concept is you would track my predicted storm times and types and compare to what actually happens when those dates come to pass on the calendar. I also plan to continue the "storm grade amount" system where I publish an exact amount of snow for specific areas, and then generate a letter grade based on how close the predicted amount was to the actual.
All for now, I gotta go back to baby duty. I plan to update this as we go forward and include the requisite charts, maps, links so you can see my source material for the winter 06-07 ideas.
Peace and Tranquility,