Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Alaska as cold as Mars?
60 F+ in Baltimore, Maryland
-61 F in Bettles, Alaska
-67 F at 75 degrees north latitude on Mars

2:30 PM EST 2/1/12 | Although severe weather potential across the U.S. has thankfully taken a back seat, spring-like temperatures across the East mask what lies beneath starry skies to our north. Bettles, AK kicked off their Fabulous February this warm Wednesday in the east with a record low of -61 F as noted by the Fairbanks NWS.  

Forecaster Mark Ingalls of our Pacific Northwest Team reported on his Tri-Cities Weather website in Washington State that recent surface temperatures in central Alaska are colder than is normally observed on Mars at an equivalent latitude of 75 degrees north

"Ok, about weather on Earth, please?"  The importance of this temperature diversity across North America is clear: Deep-layered cold building  in Alaska in February means considerable time will be needed for the sprawling high pressure systems (link to GFS projection) that result to move south and dispel the cold reservoir.  

NOAA Projection for 8 AM EST Monday 2/6/12 shows extent of
a large high pressure system rolling south from the Canadian Rockies
and linking with a second dome in the Mid-west and Northeast.  
We believe the current atmospheric pattern across North America is aligning to unleash a significant reserve of this cold air into the northern U.S and eventually to the East Coast in the next 2-3 weeks. The weekend storm is the first shot to be fired in what will be a long battle of major Arctic outbreaks clashing with an amplified subtropical jet. Couple this with a "warming" trend in La Nina, and it points to a very stormy period for February into March across the U.S. Frequent winter storms interspersed with severe weather outbreaks may be common over the next 3-6 weeks.

Additional details on this potential will be posted in the Winter Stormcast Zone. Words of caution to those the educational system preparing for standardized exams or other tightly scheduled events... (we've said this before, you know we aren't just whistling Dixie). Get as much preparation done as you can between now and February 10. You have a formal observation scheduled? Get it done quickly. Is a "Middle States" evaluation team visiting in mid- to late February? Hmm...maybe not. 

Be sure to quote their reaction when you say, "I know it's 60 degrees today, but we might want to reschedule ;-)" 

(Forecasters Foot, Ingalls, Meteorologist Berk and the Winter Stormcast Team)

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