Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Thursday 12 January 2012 3:07 pm

1500  EST  JAN 21   JAN 2010….   STARDATE  201201.12


There is really no other way to say this other then coming out and saying it.    My forecast– my scenario about how the second half the winter was going to evolve –is probably not going to be correct.    I am not going to come out here and tell you that I am going to get the overall 500 MB pattern correct like  whats his name does over at wxbutt .  Wrong is wrong.  I am very likely going to end up being quite wrong with regard to the second half of the winter and how things are going to develop.    There is no point in trying to a blow smoke in your face then tell you the air is clear.  One of the things I have learned from dealing with energy and grain traders over the years is that most of them can handle the idea that your seasonal or monthly forecast is going to turn out to be significantly different or the pattern change you have been forecasting is not going to work out sometimes.    What they don’t like is when someone tries to tell them that Up is Down or that Mild is Cold.   My experience has been that when you do that you will end up losing clients faster than Newt Gingrich’s popularity at a club for growth meeting.


What IS important when something like this happens is to figure out what you did wrong and lessons that that can be learned and absorbed for another day and another time.    Over the next 10 days the actual forecast looks pretty easy. First the strong arctic cold front comes through tomorrow…. There may be a clipper low which brings WVA VA NC MD some snow showers on the 15th…. A brief warm up the headm ahead of the next cold front on the 16th and 17th … Followed by another strong arctic front on thr 18th to the 20th.

What I am talking about here is how I anticipated the next 45 to 60 days to develop.    Now some are you are probably already saying    ”hey DT you crazy ignorant bastard… Maybe you are jumping the gun to early and giving up hope. Maybe the pattern will evolve as you thought earlier into it more bullish colder wintry pattern for the central and eastern Conus…”

Maybe. But that is not the way things works with me.

Look… If the pattern ends up turning colder and February and March but in a manner that differs significantly from what I have been talking about over the past 10 days…. It is unethical of me too suddenly assert Hey look at me I got it right after all”.       I dont   DO bullshit.

I don’t mind talking about my successes and I don’t mind talking about my failures.    One of the things that you will find here at WXRISK.COM is that I do both with equal intensity and focus. No matter how good you are … no matter how much on a roll you may be… You will eventually end up being wrong an disastrously wrong.    If you are afraid of being wrong stop forecasting weather and go sell shoes.

When I use to post over at easternus wx then over at American wx one of the issues I’d try to stress is that not all SSW  ( sudden stratospheric warming events)    are the same and they don’t always mean that the pattern is suddenly going to turn significantly colder and or snowier for the central and eastern CONUS.      Sure there is a tendency is that the happened but the correlation is not that strong.   A few years ago there was a pretty strong SSW event– I think it was in winter of 2005-6 — and there was a lot of gleeful anticipation that the SSW event would lead to a turn to a much colder and wintry pattern for the central and eastern CONUS. It did not.     To be sure the pattern DID change but NOT in a way that made a difference for actual weather conditions east of the Mississippi River.   I could make the argument here that the pattern is changing if one looks at the overall large scale features over the northern hemisphere.

But that’s just a disingenuous bull shit argument… and like I said I dont DO bullshit.

When I made the last post back on Jan 9….    I presented this map showing how the SSW –sudden stratospheric warming– was going to cause the jet stream to develop  a  massive Ridge over the northern Pacific that would expand through the Bering sea into eastern Siberia and Western Alaska… and reaching into the Arctic regions.

But at the time I also stated quite clearly that this sort   of  pattern development  is not a great pattern for the Midwest and East coast:    the development of the 500 MB ridge ( aka the -WPO)    that pushes into the arctic region often causes a equally strong negative 500 mb anomaly   (  A TROUGH!!)   — to form over western or southwestern Canada and Pacific Northwest  …. which is    really  a -PNA  .    My entire argument or forecast for the second half of the winter was premised on the idea that the RIDGE over the Bering sea would continue to drive into the arctic circle ( where it would becomne a Block) moving over or close to the north pole regions and expanding into northern Greenland. This in turn would force the NAO to move from very positive to Neutral to Negative and the combination of both of these features — the Block over the arctic regions and the developing positive 500 mb heights over Greenland– would force the entire Polar Vortex out of the arctic regions ( +AO) south into central Canada (-AO). Well that’s what I was thinking anyway.

However in the last update I also listed  under     the   “WHAT COULD WRONG”   department … that the developing Ridge over the Bering sea   might retrograde
( move west)    back into eastern Siberia…. and that such a  development    would of course destroyed my entire scenario.


It’s pretty clear from the last several model runs that yes the Bering Sea Ridge   IS  going  separate itself from the main flow   and will  become a block over the western arctic regions. But it  is also quite clear that this  Block  IS  going to move WEST  – not   east  or  Northeast —  west and that this retrogression is going to allow for deep trough / closed 500 mb Low to form in the gulf Alaska in the mean pattern.

Oddly enough the development of deep closed 500 mb Low in the gulf Alaska is identical to what we have been experiencing since the last week of November NOV.    So yes we probably will end up back were  started by the time we reach the last week of January.     Indeed the last few runs of the CF2v2.0 in week 3 and 4 … which had been showing a fairly cold pattern developing now shows a very mild and to January east the Mississippi River.

What  is really interesting is that when the pattern turn into CRAP back  in  mid and late  November it did so because of the development of a large 500 mb Low over eastern Siberia.    This feature was very prominent all maps and I talked about it    often   during NOV 10-DEC 15 period.   Having   big a deep closed 500 MB Low over Siberia is not in itself     the kiss of death per se.    BUT… there was also a large positive 500 MB height anomaly– a FLAT ridge– over the central portions of the North Pacific   and that   made things much worse.

The proximity of these two features fairly close to each other ensure that the Pacific jet velocities at 200 mb and 300 mb would be extremely strong    (at times reaching 200 knots)    and therefore would not be allowed to buckle or amplify.   Very strong jet streams like this are impossible to get to “buckle” or amplify and without that you can’t get a ridge on the West coast of North America.    This time around the stratospheric warming event caused a major amplification of the pattern… over Bering Sea and eastern Siberia!!!    In other words the EXACT same location on the globe. T   he fact that these two events 60 days apart developed in almost exact same location on the globe can not be a coincidence.

Some have speculated that the development of excessively deep heavy snow cover over eastern Siberia in combination with the Asian mountain Torque is the driving force here behind the repeating pattern. But that is a discussion for another day.  Besides if I get into that is gonna end of sound like a bunch of BS…

And like I said… I dont DO bullshit. Wrong is wrong…I am going to be wrong.

The only give saving grace here is that in this new pattern the temperature contrast between say Minneapolis and St. Louis…. between Boston and Richmond Virginia… could at times the quite extreme. I am not yet prepared to completely kill off the entire winter but I would not surprise me at all if this winter ends up being very close to 2001-02 or 1972-73.


  1. Comment by Betsy — January 12, 2012 @ 10:38 pm

    Appreciate that DT…your honesty and the educating for the rest of us…we shall all just have to watch what the rest of winter brings…

  2. Comment by felix — January 12, 2012 @ 11:20 pm

    who do you like in the 2012 national elections?

  3. Comment by matt — January 12, 2012 @ 11:36 pm

    i hope we get snow. I had not gotten over 3 inches of snow here in billerica ma the last few years have been well above normal. we usually already have seen a good snow storm by now. I have a bad feeling that you are correct and we will not see any storms dupmping more than 3 inches in my neck of the woods

  4. Comment by Mary Anne — January 12, 2012 @ 11:42 pm

    So what was 01-02 and 72-73? I just want to know will it snow or not? My hope is not!

  5. Comment by Bill — January 13, 2012 @ 1:47 am

    Predicting the weather is much like predicting the stock market. There are so many variables that affect the results in the short term,that no one(except God)will be right every time. As i did in my former career as an investment advisor,what you can do best is give us your “best educated guess”. With your knowledge and experience it will be far superior to what the rest of us will know. That in itself is a wonderful and also educational experience that will help us all learn a little about your passion for weather,and in addition you provide a valuable service to help us all be a little better prepared when the weather inevitably turns violent,and you have given us a forewarning. So,thanks DT,and keep helping the unruly,unwashed masses learn a little,and maybe be slightly better prepared because of your insight.

  6. Comment by ClayinBonAir — January 13, 2012 @ 2:29 am

    Hey DT….

    I learn stuff from every Hard Core Update!

    Ths for the hard work that keeps us informed!

  7. Comment by ed — January 13, 2012 @ 6:06 am

    Hey DT

    Why do you put out great forecasts ? Because you can !

  8. Comment by Paul — January 13, 2012 @ 6:02 pm

    Hey DT:You are great!You get right to the facts and base your decisions on facts,not Hype.You remind me of Sgt.Joe Friday from the TV series “Dragnet.”Give me the facts,nothing but the facts.”

  9. Comment by spike — January 16, 2012 @ 7:31 pm

    okay, dave…mild rest of winter. i can hang with that; keeps my bills down

  10. Comment by GarynVA — January 19, 2012 @ 1:39 am

    Yes, like the winter of ’72-’73. But don’t forget what happened not long after that – the winter of ’76-’77, one of our worst. The Arctic air spiked down out of Eastern Canada into the East Coast all the way down to Florida. It looked like a dagger point on the maps. Water mains as big as 4″ froze in the streets. Called the ‘Bicenntennial Winter’ it was the coldest on the East Coast since records were kept in America. Then, the very next winter was just as bad.
    Hey, at least you’re willing to put your predictions out there, and I, for one, enjoy reading them. But they’re forecasts – predictions. There is no guarantee. Everybody knows that.

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