Warm Up Next Week and I Analyze the Analog Winter of 1977-1978

25 10 2013

Hey everyone. Fall has arrived with a bang as temperatures have been up to fifteen degrees below normal in some places. As I mentioned last Thursday, our first frost will likely be tonight or tomorrow night as nighttime temperatures drop near the freezing point.

Temperatures should stay in the low 50s through the weekend and into the beginning of next week. A low pressure will then start to gain steam over the Plains states and move northeast across Illinois and into Canada. This will cause a small warm up for our area late next week. The warmth will be accompanied by rain and cloudy skies, which will put a damper on any hopes of a few nice October days. Into the week of November 4th, the cold front associated with the low pressure will cross the area, bringing temperatures back around 50 degrees for the rest of the remaining week.

Late Week Rain Followed by Chilly Weather

Late Week Rain Followed by Chilly Weather

Overall, expect below average temperatures with one day of rain (next Friday) over the next week and a half.

Long Range Discussion Series Part 1: 1977-1978 Analog

The first analog winter I will discuss is the snowy and cold 1977-1978 winter season. During this period, a weak El Niño was active, which is similar to what kind of Niño will see this upcoming winter. First, I will cover the temperature anomalies, which are slightly surprising. Most of the United States was far below normal for the 1977-1978 season, with the core of the cold in the Great Lakes region. In the Northeast, temperatures ran about 2-4 degrees below normal.

1977-1978 Temp Anomalies

1977-1978 Temp Anomalies

In terms of El Niño strength, this makes sense. A strong El Niño will tend to bring warmer than average temperatures while a weak one will tend to have more unpredictable results. What does this analog tell us about this coming winter? Not too much. However,  it does make me a little suspicious of my original prediction of a warmer than average winter. As I analyze more analog winters, my winter forecast will likely change.

In terms of precipitation during the winter of 1977-1978, the mid-atlantic states received 6-8 liquid equivalent inches above normal! This winter was headlined by the infamous Blizzard of 1978, which dropped 30 inches of snow on Boston and over a foot from NYC to Baltimore. This particular winter demonstrates one outcome of a weak El Niño in the continental United States. If the other analog winters show similar patterns in terms of temperature and precipitation anomalies as 1978, then we could be in for a cold and stormy winter.

Blizzard of 1978

Blizzard of 1978

My next update will analyze the winter of 2002-2003 (Presidents Day Storm) and talk more about our upcoming weather in November.

Till then,

JHirsch

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Revival: 2013 Edition. What’s in Store for this Winter?

16 10 2013

Prologue:

After a looooong hibernation/break/vacation/furlough, Philaburbia Weather Blog is back! It has been over 8 months since my last post, and frankly, I am excited to be back in the blog seat. Since my last post, there have been tragedies (RIP Tim Samaras), severe weather, wildfires, floods, and a government shutdown (which has limited my resources immensely for this blog…sad face):

NOAA shutdown

NOAA shutdown…noooooo

With that said, Philaburbia Weather is back! To all my readers, I will continue  to produce the most accurate forecasts in the Delaware Valley. I will not let you down. Promise.

Now, let’s get to the weather!!

Chapter 1: Hurricane Discussion

The 2013 hurricane season has been a quiet one.  We have had eleven named storms (which is normal),  two hurricanes, and no major hurricanes. We have seen in recent years how difficult it is to predict hurricane activity each year. Most sources were calling for 8-9 hurricanes with 3-5 major hurricanes and a heightened risk of a US impact. So far, none of these predictions have proved accurate and it does not look like a tropical system will be affecting us in the near future.

Chapter 2: Short Range Discussion

Volatile temperature changes are the big story for the upcoming week. While not unusual for this time of year, we are expecting a 20 degree drop in temperature between today and next Thursday! Before this temperature change, however, some weak disturbances will be pulling through the area Thursday night and Saturday night.

By next Tuesday, a low pressure will form over the great lakes and start to move east. Behind the front associated with the low, unseasonably cold air will follow. The european forecast model depicts this scenario:

Euro 2 PM Oct 22

Euro 2 PM Oct 22

After this front pulls through with minimal precipitation, high temperatures will drop into the low 50s in the day and around freezing at night. This means the northern and western suburbs could receive their first frosts by next weekend. Enjoy the fairly warm for the rest of this week and weekend because….. winter is coming (cue Game of Thrones music)!

Chapter 3: Long Range Discussion

The essential question brought up each fall vexes me every year: How much snow are we getting this winter? Well, it is extremely hard to pin-point exact totals for any location. It is also extremely difficult to predict temperature and precipitation patterns for the upcoming winter. My theory for this failure in forecasting is lack of recorded data. We just do not have enough precedents to be able to successfully predict what will happen each winter.

But,

I will attempt to relate past winters in terms of the upcoming weak El Niño period this year. Technically called analog winters, these past seasons have had a similar El Niño as we will have for winter 2013-2014.  Using some data from the Climate Prediction Center, I have concluded that a handful of analog winters could be considered: 1968-1969, 1976-1977, 1977-1978, 2002-2003, 2004-2005. Coincidentally, every single one of these analog seasons have been above normal and have had a major snowstorm affect the Northeastern US. What does this mean for this winter? My call for the winter of 2013-2014 is a warmer than average winter with one large snowstorm for the northeast. Put it down in the books.

By the way, here’s a snowfall total map for the blizzard of 2005, which dropped over a foot of snow in the Philadelphia region:

Blizzard of 2005

Blizzard of 2005

Epilogue:

Next post will deal with more discussion of the analog winters as well as the possibility for the first flurry (oh boy oh boy) in early November. If you have any feedback, comment. Like my Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Philaburbia-Weather/125766690824958. Also tell your friends that the blog is back… spread the word.

Till next time,

JHirsch








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