Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Monday 27 February 2012 10:12 pm

2000  EST  27  FEB  2012….. STARDATE   201202.27


Exactly one week ago  — FEB 19– eastern Kentucky the southern half a West Virginia and Virginia experienced a significant snowstorm.  I have had a week now to think about   this event and to compile all of my forecasts… statements and present a thorough review.  Thus this  web page entry.

In addition I will explain why I argued so strongly that this was going to be a KY  WVA VA  snowstorm and that the system had little chance of turning up the coast into the big cities of the northeast.  As  we go  through this analysis  I will stress  several key points.

  1.  The  pattern  strongly favored  this Low tracking ENE  off the NC coast and not coming  up the coast.   Unfortunately   many Meteorologists  and weather Hobbyists  along the  East coast  were   ignorant   of this and blindly  clung to the   old  saying
    ” the north trend “. 
  2.  The GFS Model  performance sucked moose. The Model performance was appallingly  bad   in the period from  day 10/ FEB 10  to  Day2/FEB 17 with frequent  wild swings  from  solution to solution.  
  3.  The close adherence of this seriously  flawed Model by   weather  hobbyist and professional meteorologist caused unnecessary Hedging and   uncertainty in the forecast.


The first statement was issued by me based upon the Day 10 12z European model February 10 run….  which showed a significant Low pressure area along the just off the southeast coast of North Carolina.  It turns out that the day 10 European model from FEB 10 was amazingly accurate and as close to a direct hit with respect to the actual surface   on February 19   for a  ten day forecast as  you have.  Of course the   FEB 10 European model   was off by one day but still  the  day 10 European  model  depiction  was pretty darn good.

FRIDAY  FEB 10  235 PM  I  posted    this:

* ALERT DAY 10 EUROPEAN MODEL HAS MAJOR EAST COAST SNOWSTORM … even for most of NC and all of MD and VA on  FEB 20

Of course several  times this winter we seen false alerts from weather models especially  at Day 8  Day 10  and Day 12.  However in this  case something was different with respect to the large scale or synoptic pattern.  The PRIMARY    reason WHY I believe this event had a better chance to become a reality  and a significant  event  … even at Day 10…  was the collapse  that was  forecasted by all the models of the super intense and large Polar  Vortex   (PV) over Eastern Canada.

I have said this many times before and I am sure I will say again.  The overwhelming amount of data shows that having a large powerful intense PV over eastern Canada— over Hudson’s Bay or  central or Northern Quebec / or Labrador–is an extremely negative or Hostile  synoptic  feature to development of major East Coast Winter storms.  Having the PV below 500 dm  in that geographical position is a  manifestation of the  + AO pattern.  That being  said … if  one  looks at the 500 mb maps  in  January and  early February you would  have seen a   large intense   PV  situated consistently over northern Hudson’s bay or Northern Quebec  or Baffin island.  Sometimes this feature has been as low as  474  dm and has been so large that it has  6  or  8     lines — height lines –around it.   That represents a lot of wind and  energy and becomes extremely hard to get the Polar Jet  (PJ)  to dive south and  merge or   “phase” with  the subtropical jet  (STJ)  over the Eastern CONUS.  And without the phasing…  you don’t get big winter East Coast storms.

In addition on the 10th I argued that  another key aspect to this  POSSIBLE event  happening was the cold front and significant Low pressure area tracking through the Great Lakes and February 17.  In order for this possible winter storm scenario to develop  the Great Lakes   Low had to move into southeastern Canada and become a  50 /50 Low.  This in turn would force the cold air south  into the Northeast   US and prevent the next system and tracking up into the Ohio Valley.

The    12z  FEB 10 european  had some partial support the next morning   from the 6z   GFS but  the model  truncation  after day 8/192 hour  clearly  caused the  flawed  GFS Model  to “lose ” the southern  system (the short  wave)  at the 500 MB.

The  12z  FEB 11  operational  European  model had the  southeast Low  but it was further south. The 12z  euro  ensemble  had the Low 200 miles further North  and this trend continued  with the 0z  FEB 12  run of the Operational European… and I posted   this  on the Facebook  (FB) page at 0155 hrs  12FEB

*** ALERT *** ABOUT FEB 19-20 THREAT ****  
The  NEW 0Z — early Sunday AM –   run of   the  ECMWF ( the european) shows a  CLASSIC VA -NC -MD SNOWSTORM  … but only  IF one looks at UPPER AIR maps .   But the surface map does NOT look all that good.   At 500mb  on day 8 – 7PM SAT FEB 18 the 0z euro has closed 500 Low centered over central ILL -IND…. the surface Low for  some reason is waaaay to the south which makes NO sense . The Model has the surface Low on the SC coast which is a tad  further North than the 12z Saturday run. BY the Morning of FEB 19 the closed 500 low is right over southern VA … and there is some snow falling  over central and eastern VA…. but again the Surface Low is waaaaaaay to the east which makes NO sense.

On the   other hand   the 0z  GFS   took the Low  into the Great Lakes  and  developed a   strong  SE  ridge.

However the 12z GFS  FEB 12  run  showed  a Major change or     “flip flop”  in that  the Model  took the Low  from MI  to the  GA coast and showed the   southern energy  — the short  wave–  weakening   rapidly as  it  propagated  east along  the  Gulf coast.

The 12z  Euro  run on 12 FEB  remained   very consistent. The model  detected   2   pieces of energy — 2  short waves -  over  TX and KS –  that   merged  or  Phased into  a  stronger  southern short wave  that developed a  Negative   tilt.  This in turn argued that the  surface Low  should be closer to the coast  than what the  Model  was depicting with its surface map for  FEB 19.

A SIGNIFICANT  development  occurred on the  0z  FEB 13 Model runs when the CMC or Canadian  model which had been showing no  development of the southern shortwave for the last several model runs…  turned it towards the European solution by developing a significant area of Low pressure along the Southeast US coast that bought significant snow into the southern half of Virginia.  Such a development of course began speculation about the new north trend as it almost always does but as we will see in this case that was not to be for number of different reasons.   On MONDAY    FEB 13    at 0121  hrs  I posted this …

‎0Z CMC MAPS FOR ALL TO SEE.. SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL for southern VA standards NOT for say NYC or PHL or BOS standards into southern 25% of VA. This is BIG leap in what THIS Model was showing when compared to earlier runs… 

The trend continued with the 0z   13 FEB  run of the European model which showed it even bigger and more developed southeast US  coastal Low   tracking the low over or close to Cape  Hatteras. However the model began to experience problems with the northern and the precipitation shield.

Later that day  the  the operational run   of the 12z FEB  13 run of    GFS   Model came out with a dramatically different solution which caused a significant reaction with some of the more poorly informed meteorologists.  The GFS showed a major jump northward in its position of the southeast low so that it bought significant snow into the big cities of the northeast. Upon seeing this run I posted the following on the FB  page

* COMMENTS ON 12Z MONDAY 13 FEB  GFS run — REGARDING FEB 19-20 ** Ignore this run of the GFS has huge error in it that Just forces the model to go off the reservation into idiot land.

This was followed by the assessment from  HPC/ NWS the declared the  12z 13 FEB  operational GFS to be seriously flawed bcause of corrupted data the getting into the model .

Of course that drew a very strong reaction from several sources both from whether hobbyists and from professional meteorologist who should have known better.  The statement from HPC was pretty strong and I don’t see how anybody could have possibly ignored their argument.

Leading the charge that the GFS solution was correct after all was of course  Joe Bastardi.  He made the argument that this  dropping  the operational GFS and its north trend was the same sort of mistake that  HPC made   with regard to the East Coast historic snowstorm   25-26  DEC  2010.  If you recall the  particulars  of that event … it brought 10 to 20 inches of snow from   eastern NC through  Norfolk across the lower Maryland eastern shore into the big cities of Philadelphia New Jersey and New York City and then into Southern New England.

Bastardi argument was of course absurd and had  little basis in reality but he counts on weather  hobbyists  not having a firm grasp of what the actual facts were in a particular situation.  The truth is that in the days leading up to the  25-26 DEC  2010 historic snowstorm   ALL of the models had   shown the same solution for several days.  This was not a case of one model showing ABC  while another model showed  XYZ   and another  showed  HIJ.  But more importantly on the day before the actual   25 DEC 2010   Major  East Coast Snowstorm …   all the model data   — the European …  the Canadian ….the British  AND  the GFS  ….and ALL of  the short range models for that matter as well — all took the potential coastal snowstorm   way out to sea .  It was  NOT  the case of a   ONE  model coming up with a bizarre solution and being dropped by   HPC.

In addition his analogy also fails because just as all the models both the global and shore range models  suddenly took the coastal storm out to sea on  the December 24 model  runs…  that Night  on Christmas Eve …ALL  of the models  suddenly  reversed course and bought and be major snowstorm for the immediate  coastal areas from Virginia to Boston.

Never let facts get in the way of good   Bullshit.

Fortunately even while the debate regarding the  obviously flawed  12z GFS  Model was raging on midday on the 13th of February   the 12z  Ukmet  came out and showed a  Major   se US Low tracking over Cape Hatteras and moving out to sea bringing a significant snowstorm to much of western NC …VA … and   southern Maryland.

1239PM  FEB 13  I  made this  post on  the FB page

**ALERT *** ALERT *** 12Z UKMET GOES BOOM.. shows major east coast snowstorm FEB 19…. for entire Middle Atlantic even VA and MD into NYC LI and southern  CT.

This was followed shortly by the  12z run  of the European model which developed the southeast low a little deeper and took it further to the north ride along the South Carolina North Carolina coastal areas with the track running from Charleston to Wilmington to Cape Hatteras.   This cause me to make the following post  on the FB page.

FEB 13  132  PM     ‎*** ALERT *** ALERT ***ALERT …. this is No drill … 12Z EURO brings  in MUCH stronger  SE US Low   with HEAVY SNOW to all of central and eastern VA –over 6 inchesand much of Northern NC …. POSSIBLE ACCUMULATING SNOW late on the 18th into the 19th… WOOF WOOF BARK WOOF…  

At this Point I tried to make the argument that  the overall pattern clearly did not support a north trend and that the system was not a threat for the big cities the northeast.  Despite the strongly worded statement  from HPC and    the  fact that  the   12z  European Canadian and British models all strongly disagreed with the flawed  12z 13 FEB  GFS   run…  there continue to be a lot of desperate hope   and  the strongly worded assertions that the  12z GFS  was  somehow … that HPC   was wrong ..  had to be at least take into consideration .

However there  was  another way to of solve this dilemma as to which model solution was valid and  which one was not.  That would be to look at the historical analogs and finding similar events as well as using your brain to understand the potential scenarios that a forecast of may consider.

There are specific reasons  or    mechanisms   in the atmosphere  that  determine WHY   Low pressure areas in the winter months that  form in the Gulf     will    turn up the coast  and why some do Lows  are  forced to turn out to sea near or to the south of Cape Hatteras.  This is a science and it is not supposed to  be based on whimsical  Nonsense.    These 3   particular instances or analogs of significant snowstorms   for the lower Middle Atlantic region highlight the reasons and the mechanisms as to WHY Low pressure   along the southeast   US coast might NOT come up the coast.

However if you are unfamiliar with these events and you do not understand the significance of the players on the field especially at   500 MB then you would mis-read the Models and end at making a bad forecast period


case #1  30 JAN 1995…

This first event from 30 JAN 1995… is a very close match to the event of February 19, 2012.  This first image shows the upper air map on the 30 for January, 1995.  As you can see   there is an ULL — Upper Level Low — over the Tennessee Valley in a manner that was very similar to the event of  19 FEB 2012.  But in addition there was a  strong   PV – polar vortex-  located over Eastern Canada.  The PV in the Middle of JAN 1995 was a very intense large PV…  in a manner of very similar to what we saw in the beginning of February  2012.


The SURFACE Map shows   the   se US Low tracking along with just off the Southeast U.S. Coast very close to Cape Hatteras.  These
precipitation maps from   29-30 JAN  1995… and    30-31  JAN   1995 showed that significant   snow  did fall over much of Eastern Kentucky the southern portions  of West Virginia and much of southwestern and Central Virginia.  Even more significant is that in this situation just like in  19 FEB 2012……   the   heaviest snows   fell over  sw VA  and the  southern  Piedmont.


Notice here that he northern jet stream does  NOT  drop or phase into the southern jet stream.  Keep in mind that it is the phasing of the two jet streams between the Mississippi River and the East Coast  which is what develops the coastal Low.   If the two streams do not phase there is no MECHANISM for the   southern short  wave or Low  to come up the coast.

 CASE  #2     2-3 JAN  2002… 

This is also a very close match to the situation  of   19 FEB 2012….  Because the winter of   2001-02 has been very similar in terms of
the overall temperatures and lack of  snow  over the eastern half of  the  CONUS….  And because the winter of   2001-02  was forecasted   to be a fairly cold and stormy winter  over the eastern  CONUS  just like  2011-12.

Here is the SURFACE MAP  from  2 JAN 2002 and it seems to be a near ideal setup for  significant snowstorm into the big cities of the northeast US.

As you can see from these upper air maps JAN  1-2-3 , 2002…  there is a large and very pronounced ULL that  was centered over Iowa and Missouri on January 1.  This feature dropped into the Deep South and then rotated off the Southeast U.S. Coast by January 3.  Note again that there   was  a very deep and very intense    PV — Polar Vortex –  at  480 dm or lower located over Quebec Canada.   Also … note the very strong Pacific trough crashing into the West Coast JAN 1-2, 2002…  which again bears a striking resemblance to the  500 MB     FEB 17-19, 2012.   The analog here is striking we close to what we saw last weekend over  TN KY  NV   and VA.

Notice here that  AGAIN the northern jet stream does NOT  drop or phase into the southern jet stream.  Keep in mind that it is the phasing of the two jet streams between the Mississippi River and the East Coast which is what develops the coastal Low.  If the two
streams do not phase there is no MECHANISM for the   southern short  wave or Low  to come up the coast.

Its Just that   simple.

And by the way …there was  widespread speculation and forecast hoopla that this   Low on the se  US Coast 2 JAN 2002  was also going to turn up the coast.     And finally here is the snowfall accumulation map. In this instance   the best snows were NOT over  sw VA and the
southern Piedmont but over central and southeastern Virginia.  However the principle and the upper maps remain quite relevant and analogous  to  19 FEB 2012.

CASE # 3…   25-27 MARCH   1971…

Again the surface maps appeared to be quite favorable for significant East  Coast snowstorm.  There  is a large arctic HIGH centered over the Great Lakes covering all of the eastern CONUS and a stationary front over Florida and the gulf coast into Southern Texas with significant precipitation developing on the front.  However by 17 March 1971 the significant surface low pressure area moves off the North Carolina Coast and out to sea by passing the big cities of the Northeast.    WHY did this Low  also  ”miss”   the big cities of the  NE and why    heavy snow ONLY  fall over   eastern KY southern  WVA   northern NC and   the southern half of Virginia?


The 500 MB maps clearly show what happened.  In this case we have a very nice   50/50 Low centered over Newfoundland  Canada and this feature is a strong signal for potentially East Coast snowstorm .  We also have a very pronounced   -NAO as well .   And the PV is not very strong and is displaced over North Central Canada.   On 25 MARCH 1971 –  the 1st map– we see a   Upper Low Located over   KS   and the  PJ –polar Jet – is  located along or just to the north of the was Canada border and drops into New England…  while the Southern jet stream can be found running from California to Texas and Oklahoma then into the southeastern states.

On 26 MARCH 1971…  the   weak disturbance in Kansas with the Upper Low has developed significantly and is now showing in negative tilt  in the short  wave trough   — SEE BLACK  LINE–  running from   eastern KY  to the Florida panhandle.  Notice here that   AGAIN the northern jet stream does not drop or phase into the southern jet stream.   By 27 MARCH 1971   the   southern   short wave or Low has moved off the Southeast U.S. Coast into the southwest portions of the north Atlantic.

And finally the snowfall map for this event in late March 1971 showed a large area of   8  to  14″ of snow  across much southwest …  Central … South central and into Eastern Virginia.   Less than 1 inch of snow   fell in  Washington, DC and  4″ of snow  fell in   Norfolk and Virginia Beach and 7″ fell   in Williamsburg.


Significantly  after the    12z  13 FEB operational GFS  screw up… the  12z GFS ensemble on 13FEB was much closer towards the European Canadian and British models scenarios .  Indeed the GFS  ensemble  mean was also focusing on the rapid  propagation or eastward movement of an   next incoming trough into the West Coast and towards the Rockies.

The 0z   14 FEB  Global model  runs became a significant turning point in with respect to the probability of a significant  snowstorm  for   the lower Middle Atlantic region .  The   operational GFS showed a much more organized area of low pressure coming further north along the  southeast US coast and  had  snow/ rain up to the North Carolina Virginia State line for the first time.   This was followed by the  0z  run of CMC   ( the Canadian)  which showed a major snowstorm for    the southern half of  Virginia and southern  West Virginia.    The  0z European Model   run showed perhaps the strongest surface Low  yet  with  significant snows far north as Philadelphia  and Southern New Jersey  as the 0z European Model  has the Low  coming as far North  as  37 degrees N latitude before being turned out to sea.

However the 12z   14  FEB   European model shifted the Low  to the south again.  At this Point I began to focus more heavily as to whether not there  was  any chance for phasing to occur between the two jet streams.

All winter long the pattern has featured a very strong and progressive or fast flowing Pacific jet which has not really relaxed long enough to allow for any sort of serious cold air into reasons coming south from Canada.  Very fast progress of flows are resistant to phasing between the southern and the polar jet.  I stated as such on the  FB   page

FEB 14   144PM..
I have for the last few days of favored the flatter solution as a general overall outlook be cause of this particular winter pattern. The last two winters …if you farted too loud you get a snowstorm the East Coast because the pattern allowed phasing… in fact it forced a lot of phasing or merging between the two jet streams. This result in a lot of big East Coast winter storms.

 This winter as we all know has been a very mild winter because the mean pattern or flow has been coming in from the Pacific not from Canada and the arctic regions. Thus with  THIS   possible event … I suspect that constant Pacific Jet stream energy will keep coming in from the West Coast pushing the Southern System on an easterly or eastern northeasterly track and not allowing it to turn up the coast.

The critical issue is whether or not the strong piece of energy in the southern jet stream over Alabama Mississippi mergers or phases with the northern jet stream. If it does…IF… that would pull the system further north and Northern Virginia Maryland into fairly and New Jersey would see significant snow. IF it does NOT phase then this would favor a flatter solution increase the snow threat for central and sw VA into Northern NC

ON  14  FEB  I  Posted a NOTE on the FB page   “WHERE WE STAND  ON THIS POSSIBLE THREAT   FEB 19-20”.

Withe  respect  to the debate as to whether not the operational run  of the 12z  14FEB GFS    was   valid  or  BS…  recall  this run of the GFS  has the Low coming up the coast and dropping heavy snow from DCA to BOS …  was clearly proven by the  0z  15 FEB  operational GFS which did a another flip flop and took the  Low   back to the south… along the  Southeast U.S. Coast over Cape Hatteras and out to sea.

This new flip flop by the operational GFS   model cause me to make the following commentin disgust on the  FB page…

This is why I HATE the GFS past 72 hours when it comes to East Coast winter storms. The 0z GFS model run was a massive …severe unprecedented shift…   taking  the coastal Low from the Georgia Coast … suddenly 300 Miles to the nw over ATL… From passing south and east of Cape Hatteras to passing west of Norfolk … from   showing NO precipitation of any kind north  Washington, DC
…to driving heavy snow and rain into New York City Albany and will Willaimsport PA. The fact that you may be living in the northeast big cities and the 0Z GFS is the picture perfect and one that you want to see for your location does it mean that the solution is a viable.

 The proof ? …all the OTHER weather models… ALL OF THEM…. did not show ANY significant change in their track or forecast and the updated 6z GFS has gone back to the southeast U.S. coastal solution.

At this point in my statements to   my  clients …I again stated that for Central Virginia and the Richmond metro area this was probably going to be a rain event for at least a portion of the  event  but I could not categorically rule out the threat of snow if the trend for colder  temperatures continued.  And for southwest Virginia up through the Shenandoah this look like a pretty significant snowstorm .   One  of these statements was read  on air  during the morning news show on WRVA1140 AM by Jimmy Barrett.  This prompted one of the on air meteorologists  in the Richmond metro area   to comment that   ”despite  some rumors of snow you may have heard about for Sunday the precipitation will be all rain” 

The  0z  15 FEB    run of the GFS…  Amazingly enough had a another massive model flip flop and reversal…  and now took the  southeast coastal Low  well  inland of New York City and Philly which of course  forced the model  to produce widespread significant rain.   ON the FB page  I Posted the following

FEB 15   117AM  ….    ** ALERT **8 ALERT ** IGNORE THE 12Z GFS RUN … AGAIN ** its way inland andhas rain into NYC….  c onsider   the  GFS  last run 4 runs…   12z TUES flat Low moves off NC coast out to sea…  18z TUESDAY a tad further North… 0z WAY NORTH low tracks over ATL then west of Norfolk…  6z Flat wave off the NC coast …12z  way inland and north!.

After seeing the 12Z   runs of the European …British and ….Canadian models  I    finally committed to this publicly on the FB  page  at 126pm  15   FEB


This commitment   to forecasting a snowstorm for the lower Middle Atlantic    was rewarded by it more changes in some of the models late on the   15th of FEB… the 0z   16   FEB Model  runs.  As I have said  many …many times… the  operational GFS is a awful model when itcomes to forecasting East Coast winter storms.   It has a lot of trouble handling Southern  short waves…   it has a lot of trouble  Phasing    the  2  jet streams just to name a few.  But once you move within  84   to 72 hours of the event   the GFS was a much better model.

Sure enough  at exactly 84 hours before the start of the event on12z 19 FEB….  the  new   0z  15 FEB    GFS Model showed a dramatic turn towards the European solution.

at 1108pm FEB 15  i made the  following post  on the  FB page


This was supported by the Canadian model  0z  FEB 15   run  and like the  European and the new  GFS and  Ukmet   the Canadian model showed no significant snow north of the Washington, DC area.

The model trend continue to show the southeast U.S. Low moving over or just south of Cape Hatteras and out to sea and each one was coming in slightly colder than the previous run on all the models.  After posting the  12z FEB 16 GFS   model  forecast SNOW map on the FB page   I wrote the   following on the FB page   (  which should of  been  under  NEW NOTE     or  posted  here on the   web site )

16FEB 1205PM …   ** 12Z MODEL DISCUSSION 16 FEB MODEL…. VALID FOR FEB 19 EVENT***   and in this  thread I  stated  that so far No model  was bringing the Low north or   heavy snow into any of the big cities of the northeast.  In addition it looked to me that this was going to be a  sw   VA… eastern KY southern WVA    big snow…  And that the rain could turn to  snow for several hours in Richmond but the lack of cold air was going to be a problem east of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Shortly after I wrote that the new 12z  16  FEB  European model came in dramatically colder even in central and Eastern Virginia.  The European model snow map showed a large area of 40 inch snows even through the Richmond metro area.

131PM  FEB 16    ** ALERT *** ALERT ** 12Z EURO BRING IN COLDER AIR TO RIC CHANGES RAIN TO SIGNIFICANT SNOWFALL SUNDAY AFTER 1PM then moderate to heavy snow until late sunday evening … MODEL says 4 to 8 inches of snow Roanoke Charlottesville Lynchburg Richmond Fredericksburg BUT … BUT that is assuming a 10:1 ratio…. if this happens   the snow ratio will  wont be 10:1  around RIC

At this Point I decide to as time the issue a 1ST  GUESS    snowfall forecast  map   at   610pm 16 FEB .

As   we  moved  into the short rain model  timeframe    snow mounts on many the  models began to increase especially east of the Shenandoah Valley into the Piedmont and Central Virginia as the data turn colder and colder with each one.  This was especially true on the  0z      6z and 12z Model runs of the NAM   and  GFS.  It was  at this point that the  short  range models began to show significant snow developing Sunday afternoon across Central Virginia and continuing  to 1:00 AM on the morning of the 20th.

Significant rain events changing over snow with significant accumulations are not likely in Central Virginia but has been known to happen.  But more importantly  the reason for the colder temperature profiles on the shore range models was because the precipitation and the system coming out of the gulf was moving slower .  This in turn allowed for colder air to move southward lay on the 18th into the morning of the 19th.

On Friday morning February 17 I  did a live on air into view with  Jimmy Barret 1140am  WRVA.  My appearance  followed immediately after the  morning news broadcast which featured the some  clown from the  Weather Channel  named  Ray  Stagick.  I have no idea if this guy is a meteorologist are not   but  if he is…  is he  is a pretty awful one.  TWC  committed to inch of snow  or less at the at  the end of the event for the Richmond metro area.    As you can hear from the broadcast..I  went for  2-4  from the city    East and  4 to 8    west  and  sw  and nw of the city and  10″  in  sw  VA.   Still I suppose I should not complain about the weather channel too muchsince they make me look really good.


During the  morning  hours on  15 FEB  all of the Local  TV stations  the their forecasted  snow amounts for Central Virginia in the Richmond metro area   to  1-2”  while  TV 12 continue to show less than 1 inch.  All the TV stations to agreed that western and southwestern Virginia would see several inches of snow and the media stations in the Charlottesville and southwest Virginia / Roanoke markets played up the threat of significant accumulating snow.  Unbelievably even as  NWSFO AKQ began to mention the possibility of accumulating snow TWC  –The Weather  Channel- still refuse to discuss any other outcome except for a rain event with a brief period as snow at the end across central Virginia.

FIRST  CALL MAP   was issued late in the day on  the 17th.

It was based on the  short range data which showed a longer  delay with the arrival of the precipitation.  Most of the other forecasts and model data were   premised on the idea that the precipitation arriving   Saturday night before the cold air arrived.  However the shore range models continue to emphasize a delay with each passing run so that most the precipitation would not arrive until Sunday dawned over the Virginia North Carolina State line and rapidly expanding northward towards Maryland.

However this delay was significant because it  allowed the reinforcing shot of cold air to sweep into PA MD  WVA  and VA.  It was  not that the air mass was dramatically colder but the due points were significantly   drier.   The temperature profiles began to show that the precipitation might start as rain or as an Exe but a larger and larger portion of this event over Central Virginia was going to fall as snow  and NOT rain.  And over southwest Virginia the shore range models are really began to crank out some impressive snow totals.

Winter storm watches and warnings    were  issued by NWS  for all of southwest Virginia the southern third of West Virginia and Eastern Kentucky.

LAST CALL MAP   issued Saturday  18 FEB 7PM EST.

This was  where  I made my first serious mistake. During the last   2 runs of the  European model the model snow algorithm  showed significant snowfall  — 8-12”   in  west to  east  Band stretching from southwest Virginia/ Roanoke east across the southern Piedmont stopping just to the west of Richmond.   Even though most of the other short range models    on Saturday did not show Richmond getting over 8 inches of snow I decided to gamble as a war and extend the 8 to 12 inch band of snow into the southern Piedmont and fairly close to the western side of the Richmond metro area.

This was a mistake.  I thought that the model is increasing the  snow fall accumulations because   the model  has  detected  the colder drier air and the  later  start time which meant that more the precipitation  would actually fall was snow and not mix precipitation or rain changing to snow.

During the afternoon winter storm watch is were issued for all of Central Virginia for  3 to 6 inch snow amounts.

Lastly…  Surely after I issued the LAST CALL SNOW  FORECAST map the last row of the shore range models came out and a  dramatically reduce the northward extent of the precipitation and the amount of significant precipitation over central…  southwest   Virginia and Southern  Virginia.  This causes a reaction from  several uneducated weather hobbyists  –  called   weather weenies—that of course posted the radar trends did not support significant snow getting into central and southwestern Virginia .

AS  we  now know  the 0z   FEB 19  shore range model runs were all completely mistaken.  However the shift was so complete on all the shore range models that I decided to issue a reduced snowfall map.  Even if the 0z   FEB 19 shore range models  were wrong it was clear that was not going to  be a band of  8-12” snows from Roanoke extending into going through the southern Piedmont almost to the western side of the Richmond metro area.


I believe that I quickly deduce the potential for this event earlier than anybody else based upon my knowledge and study of the  differences between East Coast snowstorms and lower Middle Atlantic snowstorms.

I recognize the progress  nature   of the pattern which would force the system to slide off the North Carolina Coast.

 My FIRST CALL MAP  was best and my forecast on WRVA 1140  was spot on.

 One other note…  I did we see several emails from folks complaining that the actual website had not been updated and appeared to be completely unaware that the updates…  were being posted directly at the FB page.  I will have to make efforts to ensure that annuity is aware of this feature.



Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Saturday 18 February 2012 7:13 pm

1700 EST  FEB 18 , 20012… STARDATE   201202.18





I am hoping that by  the end of this storm will go into  the record books  and  with  people …   as another  considerable    success   for me   and  WXRISK.COM .  From back in beginning of the week I  was very cautious in declaring that this was going to be a all rain event.  Initially that sort of assertion bought a lot of ridicule with one of the Richmond TV meteorologists saying     ”That contrary to some omission may have heard this week and storms going to be all rain”

This afternoon that same TV station of course had to carry the NWS  3 to 6″   and Winter Storm watches.


Its NOT Luck or  hype or  happenstance that this  event has       broekn my  way.   My  reluctance in the declaring this an   “all rain”    event early in the week   was  based upon a extremely well known history or climatology of Virginia Maryland North Carolina snowstorms.  Much of this information I will be posting and providing on the website over the next few weeks now that I have had a chance to catch my breath .      The fact of the matter is that most  meteorologists out there do not know what I know about   Virginia North Carolina and Maryland snowstorms.   But that  is  not all that unusual .

There a lot of meteorologists out there that know a lot more than   me about severe weather and   tornadoes.   or  atmosphere to physics …
or climate modeling.      But during the winter for me  it is East Coast snowstorms in general  of which I given a number of seminars and talks on and  in particular the difference between a Northeast U.S. snowstorm and one for the lower Middle Atlantic region  — North Carolina Virginia Maryland Delaware.

These two animals are not the same thing.  Sure there are occasions where all of these areas…   fFrom North Carolina to Boston see a  heavy major snowstorm.  Some examples of these  are :  January 1996 blizzard…  The great arctic blizzard FEB 11-14 of 1899…   the much  ballyhooed super storm   of March 1993….  The great middle Atlantic    snowstorm of February 1983 and the Knickerbockers storm from January 1922.  But these are exceptions.

The historic  record setting snowstorms of the lower Middle Atlantic   region  was the    JAN 26-27 1940   VA NC  BLizzard   –  did  not bring significant snow north of Baltimore  into the big cities of the northeast.     That  great storm of record in Richmond and all of central and Southern Virginia    was  REAL blizzard and terem was  a  s severe cold wave which followed.  That storm dropped 22 inches of snow in downtown Richmond ….30 inches up by Lynchburg and farmville…   but only 12 inches in DC and nothing north of the Pennsylvania Maryland border.

The March 1-3,  1980 blizzard in eastern and southeastern Virginia or  the one in February 1-3, 1980  or the one  in Jan 1-3  1980  were all total misses   for  the big cities of the Northeast.    Even the surprise blizzard   of January 25,2000   the  brought     huge amount to snow to of Charlotte   (20 inches )   and the entire state of North Carolina … 1 tom2  feet almost all Virginia into Maryland and Delaware …but the snow mounts dramatically fell apart over the big cities of the northeast.

Most of the meteorologists that I have talked to  and/or get information and discuss these synoptic patterns with me   have agree with the argument that I made back the beginning of the week that this coastal storm would NOT have a chance to turn the corner to come up the coast to bring heavy snow to Philadelphia New Jersey New York Boston and New England.  The reason being the system crashing into the West Coast  would act as a kicker — a force of energy which would show the system over the southeast U.S.  off the North Carolina Coast.

At this Point I am pretty much done looking at various weather models and it’s almost time for  “now casting”.  It is also however time to take a look at possible scenarios regarding my forecast  and  forecasts in general as to    WHAT   COULD GO WRONG:

1.  NORTHERN EDGE OF THE SNOW …  some of the 18z  Models and the   12z Saturday European Model do   have snow getting into Washington DC Southern Maryland  the lower Maryland Eastern shore … Southern Delaware even into Cape May NJ.    But not all the models agree about. There could be   pretty sharp cut off on the northern  edge.  It’s possible Washington, DC could see 4 o 5 inches of snow.

2. LOWER  MD  EASTERN SHORE…  Over the past 72 hours as we have moved into the short range models  …all the data has showed that the heavy snow areas in western .. nd Central Virginia narrow  to   a  “V  shaped  point  “    over the lower Maryland Eastern shore.  Some model data shows that the lower Maryland Eastern shore   may  be too warm for  the snow to stick …   but other data shows  there there  could in fact be a  2 to 4″ or  3-6 ” band of snow  over Dorchester   Wicomico Somerset and Worcester perhaps into southern Talbot and  Caroline  counties of the lower Maryland Eastern shore and   Sussex County in Delaware.

3. DELAYED START TIME …  Earlier in the week it looked  like the rain would come in   before  dawn Sunday over much of the southern third of Virginia and of course temperatures would  still be way too warm for the precipitation to fall as snow.  However over the last 36 to 48 hours the models have delayed the start of the precipitation.   By Sunday g 7:00 AM the rain is just across or along the Virginia North Carolina border.  This allows more cold air to get into the commonwealth  and   this air also  will have   lower  Dew points so that when the precipitation begins   and the  air   saturates   — where the temperature and the dew point meet — it does so at  or  below 32°.

4.   TEMPS  SUNDAY NIGHT IN CENTRAL VA….  I anticipate temperatures to drop down to 32° for most of the storm Sunday evening…  some areas might get as low as 31.  Either way it will be just cold enough for this snow to accumulate.  But  the  snow will  be a heavy wet snow especially the beginning and that will cause   some compaction with the snow on the ground.  In other words suppose you measure the snow at one particular time…  at say   4″.    But then you measure it 2 hours later and it’s snowing like hell  but  you  only   measure  5 inches.   This could be   the  type a storm which presents real problems with regard to measuring snow amounts correctly.


On a sidebar let me point out some problems that exist  with the forecasts that I see from NWS.  Now  I hope this does not come across as a NWS  Bash…  because that is not what it is intended as .  I have gotten a lot of emails and face book postings regarding the forecast for southwest Virginia especially in and around Roanoke  and Lynchburg.  The problem is that the official forecast from NWS is correct.  Roanoke for example is under a winter storm warning for   at LEAST   4-8 inches of snows..  and  the   term  ” at least” implies   it could be little more than that for Roanoke.  That is a GOOD forecast.


BUT some of the NWS sites however do not show that.  As of 5:00  or 6:00 PM  Saturuay …after the winter storm warnings have been issued by the Roanoke/ Blacksburg office …other web sites was still showing this.

As you can see this forecast so calls for 2 to 4 inches.

Many TV and radio stations including some of the weekend idiot weather people in southwest Virginia apparently did not know about this confusion.  So they been telling their viewers winter storm warnings for Roanoke  with 2 to 4 inches of snow.  This of course makes no sense since the criteria for winter storm warning in Roanoke and southwest region VA is more than 4 inches of snow.  I do not know what the problem is but I do know that this sort a communication breakdown is very bad news for professional meteorologist everywhere and for TV and NWS people as well.  You cannot  have one end of the body not knowing what the other end of the body is doing…  This needs to be fixed  right away.


Second I don’t understand the forecast for Lynchburg.  If you look at the zones here in southwest region VA  you will notice that Lynchburg and counties to the north are not in official winter storm watch are warning…  But counties to the east and southeast ARE in a winter storm watch.  This makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.  In addition all the data even the warmest models show at least 6 inches of snow in the Lynchburg area accumulating and much of the data shows 10 or 11 or 12 inches.  Now you could argue that Lynchburg is not to see that would snow.  But how then do you argue that areas to the east which were largely would be a little warmer  — areas such as farmville and Prince Edward county   are in a  winter storm watch?  I sure hope that is fixed soon because that is a busted forecast waiting to happen.




Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Thursday 16 February 2012 5:07 pm


Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Monday 13 February 2012 4:07 am

2230  EST  12 FEB  2012… STARDATE  201202.12


For most of this winter’s been pretty meager pickings if you are a winter weather or snow lover here in the Eastern CONUS region and if you are south of DC it’s been really slim pickings. The arctic cold front and the thunder snow and squall line which came to one Saturday certainly was exciting. I personally have not experienced under snow over 20 years… and I consider thunder SNOW o be better than cheap sex.

I made a comment on Saturday afternoon about the thunder snow and the snow squall on the FB page which I subsequently removed because it was not being taken the right way. The potential for a significant East Coast event FEB 11-12 I started referring to back on JAN 28. At first I was quite bullish on the system and thought it had the potential to bring a major snowstorm too much of the Middle Atlantic and New England coastal areas.

That did not happen.
So in one sense you could argue ...”well DT you sort a Busted on the long range forecast regarding the system“.     I would argue however that to make such a judgment shows that the person making that judgment is probably an idiot.     It is not that the assessment is wrong per se since there was no major snowstorm on the East Coast February 11-12.     The problem is that given the understanding of  weather and what can or cannot be forecasted with any sort of accuracy… it is not reasonable to expect a forecast from 14 days out to have the same accuracy as a forecast 2 days from now.    Given that my focus on the potential for a significant East Coast storm February 11 -12 …started at the end of January I think it was a pretty good forecast.

To be sure the GFS model is forecasting an East Coast winter storm of some type for another every three of four days.   But most of those events simply disappear are never come close to developing.   With respect to the February 11 Low… all one has to do is look at the satellite pictures and the surface maps from Saturday morning to see how close this system was to dropping massive amounts of snow up and down the East Coast.    The major costal storm DID develop but it also developed too far off to the east.      But it was a very close run thing and given the forecast was made 2 weeks out… I think it was a pretty good call.

In the short range –with regard to the Saturday event and the thunder snow and arctic front squall line– my view was that I don’t believe the local weather media in the Richmond area was giving enough impact or focus to the arctic front.    Once we reach the short range forecast time frame of this event – FEB 9 and 10 — I repeatedly emphasized that the main impact of this whole system was not going to be the coastal storm for Virginia and Maryland but would probably be the arctic cold front with the potential for heavy snow squalls and a possible flash freeze with the arctic front arrival.

The flash freeze of course did not happen for most areas but the snow squalls did and as we all know there was thunderstorms in the snow squalls! From my point of view… and this is just my opinion… saying something like ” we might see some snow showers with a cold front this afternoon when it arrives”… is technically OK but it’s not really an accurate forecast. And if you are going to go on air during the evening news and explained everybody what thunderstorm is and how it forms then it seems to me that that expertise could of been applied to emphasizing the potential for heavy snow squalls with a cold front arrival.

I know that some think that I am     “bashing”    other Meteorologists. I don’t think I am doing that but I guess it comes across that way. My goal here is to focus more on getting the forecast information out in a better way without destroying the signs of meteorology through a lot of tabloid hype and meteorological bullshit.

Several years ago there was some interesting research done about how the general public view meteorologists.  One of the things they found out is that while every body has their own “favorite” weather person or meteorologist that they listen to read or watch ( or some combination there of )… when the weather forecast goes bad the general public as a tendancy of thinking that all meteorologists either made the same or similar type a forecast or that they ALL busted.    I am not really sure why this is the case. For example if you take your car to the mechanic but the mechanic cannot figure out what is wrong with your car… very few people in the general public assume that all car mechanics are as bad as the one you are using. No one assumes all Car mechanics are of the same skill. And this is all the case with regard to how the general public views other professionals such as attorneys or doctors.    WHY  the general public has a different view about Meteorologists I dont know…. though I have some theories.

This is a kind of a pet peeve with me… but on the other hand it also helps me with my business in the grain and energy markets. Because there is so much bad medium and extended range forecasting going on out there and these inept forecasters seem to get a tremendous amount of publicity… When they come across my stuff many of these individuals are well… a little shocked.
For example my initial forecast for prolonged periods severe cold in Europe was made back in Mid January. At the time I dont think anyone else was calling for this sort of severe or prolonged cold ( but I coud be wrong about that…)

Or when it came to the debate about what was going to happen in February 2012 in the eastern CONUS… I opted for a short duration interval of 1 to 2 weeks of seasonally cold temperatures …nothing too severe… that would be over by the middle the month. Yet those forecasting a “Fabulous February” with temperatures dropping to zero in Boston and Chicago are continuing to bang the drum about how impressive week old the second half of February and March 2012 are going to be over portions of the eastern U.S.
Back in the early portion a January it look like that the pattern was getting ready to undergo a significant change. I had made several posts here on the web site and on the FB page… about how it looked like the jet stream is going to go undergo a significant amplification over the Bering sea into the North Pole region which would force all sorts of changes with regard to the +AO and – NAO. However by mid January it became obvious that the models were wrong and that the pattern was going to develop and a vastly different way.   It happens.

But you do NOT  keep holding onto the idea that severe cold is coming if the pattern has not changed.    If XYZ are causing the mild snowless winter pattern over the eastern CONUS…. and you forecast XYZ to change to ABC… well that’s great. But if ABC never shows up and the pattern does not change… then give up on the cold scenario already. Otherwise it looks like you don’t know what to doing or you are trying to BS folks so they hang on for another month while you rip them off.
Now lets focus a little bit on the potential for this event on February 19-20. First I am not YET committed to this event happening. Right now this threat is just a possibility. A THREAT… No more… Does that sound wishy washy?

Too friggin bad. As I said before… You don’t get extra points and you don’t win the game by making the first outrageously bad or stupid forecasts that you can. This is been a tough winter and it’s not been the same as the last two winters where it was easy to see major snowstorm events coming 5…6… and 7 days out. Whatever happens or does not happen over the Middle Atlantic areas on February 19-20… the fact remains that once this event or threat is gone… the last 10 days of FEB for much of the East Coast will feature more above normal temperatures. Perhaps it may mean the end of winter for much of the eastern CONUS …. except for New England .

The   FIRST  KEY POINT  we have to focus on is the system which tracks up through the Midwest and into New England on February 17. That system will bring rain and mild temperatures to the East coast but once it moves up into southeastern Canada most of the model data shows the system stalling over Maine and or southeastern Canada… a feature which I call the “50/50 Low”. This in turn allows for cold air to come pouring southward out of Canada across the Great Lakes and into the Ohio Valley and the Middle Atlantic states.    If there is NO “50/50 Low”…. then nothing is going to happen on February 19 and 20 with regard to any sort of wintry weather on the Middle Atlantic Coast.
The SECOND   KEY POINT    has to do  with the southern shortwave or piece of energy itself.   Right now the system of course is way out in the Pacific Ocean and the weather models are guessing or estimating how strong or weak this feature may be.     A much stronger system coming through California and the southwestern states and the southern jet stream would of course increase the chances of a significant Low pressure area forming on the Southeast U.S. Coast February 19 .    But there  is no guarantee that is going to happen — the model data could be wrong and this system coming in from the Pacific on the southern jet stream could be quite weak.

THIRD if the 50 /50 Low is too strong or too far south then the southern short wave energy DOIES get crushed or supressed and NOTHING happens except for some rain over TX LA MS AL SC and GA.

When one is faced with this much uncertainty you have to walk a fine line.   At this   point   when faced with this sort of  uncertainty what  I try to do is set of some deadlines  or    some benchmarks.    Most of the answers for the potential   threat  or  mystery regarding February 19 – 20 will probably begin to show up around February 16 -17.     By that time I will have a pretty good idea about how strong the southern shortwave will actually be…   and  most of the Model data will have a pretty good idea of how strong the 50 50 Low will become and where its position is going to setup.



Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Saturday 4 February 2012 11:05 am

1100  4 FEB   2012   … STARDATE  201202.04


The extreme winter pattern that has developed over Europe is locked in position and shows absolutely no sign of breaking over next 7 to 10 days.  Complicating this is an development of a prolonged period of extreme winter weather ….a real historic old timers massive BLIZZARD…   over Southern Europe which is going to continue for another three days.  This is just exceptional weather and one that is meteorologically  extremely significant and a very good learning experience for anybody wishing to understand the nuances of European WINTER  weather.

What makes this extreme winter weather  in Europe  even more significant  is that the  atmosphere has responded to the arctic blast and a deep trough   in the Jet stream over central and Eastern Europe …by building a equally strong  Ridge  over the Azores and Spain.  This massive Ridge is  BLOCKING the deep trough over central and Eastern Europe and Western Russia/  Ukraine  from moving   west .   And this includes the 1060 mb  massive  Arctic HIGH over  NW Russia .   There  is  literally NO place for the Deep trough in the Jet stream   with  the  deep arctic cold  or the center of the massive  HIGH over Northwest Russia ….to move .   In other wirds  the arctic  cold    has No  place to   drain or  “spread ” out  like  it  does in the North America  when  Canadian arctic HIGH pressure systems dropped out of Canada and move towards the VA  or Texas .    Instead  it just sits  there   and it’s colder and colder as more and more mass of snow continues to fall.

This image shows the temperatures from yesterday afternoon on February 3 and this morning February 4.  Remember these numbers are in Celsius NOT Fahrenheit…  But there are plenty of temperature converters  you can access through Google to convert them if you cannot do the mass in your head.  -18c   is    ZERO degrees F   …-10C  =14F

As you can see most of Southern Germany was at or below zero as was all Poland.  There were several locations in the western and Central Ukraine as well as Belarus which dropped  down to an astounding  -33c this morning.  And many locations on the afternoon of February 3 in France   (of all places)   did not break  32 degrees  F.   Most of Germany saw max temps in the teens and single digits as the western  Poland  Austria and Hungary.   Many locations in the Ukraine and Belarus did not get above 04 Max temperatures yesterday and if you look at the readings in the the Balkans even south of the Danube their locations which did not get above 0  degrees   F  !!!

This image shows the European and Asian temperature anomalies from last night.  The BOTTOM  map shows the actual  850 mb  temps and you can see how impressive the cold most of Europe is…   while the  TOP map shows the temperature anomalies relative to normal and the dark purple   and violet colors s show the extreme anomalies over Western Russia  …eastern …central… and now Western Europe.

The morning satellite picture shows a massive clouds swirl covering southeastern Europe.  There  is  widespread heavy snow and high winds and now blasting that crap out of most of the Balkans and the Western Ukraine.

The surface  map from overnight tells the reasons WHY  quite nicely…  This is from the European model and we can see that last night there was a moderately strong area of   LOW pressure over Southern Italy…  and   the Large arctic HIGH of 1059  MB over Northwest Russia near Saint Petersburg.  If you look of the BLACK  Lines which are the Isoabrs … you can see that the arctic HIGH  pressure extends all the way into France and Eastern Spain.  The interaction between the surface low  of 1002 MB  and the   1059 HIGH is producing strong east winds across the Balkans feeding the moisture into the elevated train and producing massive  snow falls this morning on the surface maps and reports.

If you take a look of the RED lines …which of the jet stream configurations…  you will notice that there is a Upper Low associated with the surface Low over Corsica and Sardinia  -   which I have highlighted in darker GREEN.   But there is a second ULL over   Poland  and the   western Baltic  Sea….  which is going to get pulled into the big Low over the Mediterranean over the next three days and produce ANOTHER   blizzard .

Here we can see that on the European Model   valid  for 72 hours from now.  The Low that was over Italy is  now  over Greece and it is Much  deeper..995 MB.   What has happened here is that the Low over Italy has strengthened as the Upper Low over Poland has been pulled into the southern  Upper Low.   This process is known as the Fujiwara effect  and while it doesn’t happen very often at the surface it does happen more commonly at the upper levels the atmosphere.

Even more impressive is the pressure gradient!!!!    The 1061 massive    Arctic HIGH  is still there  and it has moved at all…  while this 995 Low is trying to move into the Bulgaria and Romania ans from Greece.  Of course it can’t but the interaction between them is producing a lot more Black Lines an extremely strong winds across all of southeastern Europe and into the western half of the Ukraine.  Also  keep in Mind the  blizzard is still raging past 72 hours!!!!

Also take a look at what’s going on over Spain   …the Azores and the United Kingdom.  The ridge in the Jet stream   there has continued to expand and push towards Iceland and the west coast of Norway.  Keep in mind the  Teleconnection  here…  This massive  Azores  Ridge means that the system over the Balkans can become very strong and deep and also ensures a prolonged extremely heavy snow event because neither the arctic high or the deep low over Greece can move.

This next image shows the GFS snowfall  forecast for the next 72 hours and most of the Balkans and Western Ukraine are going to disappear under a blanket of 2 to 3 feet of snow because of the current heavy snow falling over the region….  And the 2nd massive blizzard which is going to start Sunday.

Finally this Last image shows that changes snow cover for Europe over the next eight days.  The image on the left is based upon the snowfall as of this morning … February 4…  The image on the right based upon the model data eight days some now February 12.   These maps  speak for themselves….


WOW.. just    wow…


Santayana’s VODKA COLD

Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Friday 27 January 2012 8:22 pm

1945  EST  27  JAN 2012… STARDATE  201201.27


Did you ever have one of those days where no matter how hard you try the one thing you wanna get to the just can’t seem to get to or complete? This is one of those days. I’ve been trying to complete this website update for 6 hours…since 2pm … and every time I attempt to finish it some useless human being others me or the phones I have to stop what I am doing …. or pick up someone. A very frustrating afternoon because there is a lot to say and I’m not going to take any prisoners in saying it and I don’t give a crap whose toes or feelings I hurt.

There are a lot of weather nuts  out there… ranging  the serious weather hobbyists    to it  lowest grade or lowest form:    the weather weenie.    If you are a winter weather lover like I am you always WANT  to get excited about the big snowstorms and the big cold pattern. Certainly I could produce a lot more business for my website and for the FACEBOOK  page by banging the    drum constantly about cold patterns which never show up.   But that is NOT what WXRISK.COM is all about.   As I  have stated many times before  ..  MY  inter forecast for Winter 2011-12   ( like most others) was disastrously wrong. This is the fifth time and I said that statement about my forecast in the past month yet many weather weenies out there seem to have this perception that I am suggesting my winter forecast was very good.

The point is that the last two winters have been very good for WXRISK.COM    . But the reason why I was bullish and aggressive with a cold and the snow winter patterns over the last two winters for the central and Eastern CONUS is because the patterns were.  I  wasn’t being Bullish on cold and snow to gain religious followers or to have snow nuts fall in love with me.

The purpose of practicing science and in particular the science of meteorology is to learn from the mistakes. My winter forecast was wrong and I have discovered –I believe– to be the synoptic reason why the pattern did not develop the way I thought it might. I stated those reasons in the last entry   GOTTERDAMMERUNG…

Strangely enough all this arguing back and forth has happened before.   Some recall that 10 years ago the winter of 2001-2 was also  forecasted to be a very cold and or snowy winter for much of the central and eastern CONUS. Back then WXRISK.COM was just starting out…  But I  got caught up in the consensus forecasting  thing and  went  for  a colder than normal and at least normal snow winter for the central and eastern CONUS   . Instead that winter turned out to be one of the warmest and least snow east on record!

I distinctly remember speaking on my new cell phone with other leading private meteorologists in various firms and energy companies. And the debate was going back and forth — there are no chat rooms back then– about how the NAO is going negative and that the whole pattern is eventually going to change.    ”VODKA cold”    was the term that everybody through around and used… Some use that term jokingly… some that term semi seriously and some very seriously.

And   the thing is   time after time the weather models constantly forecasted colder outbreaks of significant size and scale. And every few days of cold air patterns or outbreaks would be delayed until next week or 10 days some now.

Some of you may not remember but I am sure a lot of longtime whether hobbyists and fanatics and professional meteorologists do.    To be sure there were some cold days during that winter . But the massive pattern flipped or reversal that many forecasted or was hoping to occur … never happened .

WHY?      What can we learn about that winter    od 2001-02  which could tell us something about large scale patterns so that in the future when we see the same pattern we know not to fall for the same hype.

To a large degree  the  2001-02  Winter  Forecast  Busts  were caused  by    everyone looking at JUST  the  CPC  NAO   Indexes   or the EPO   or the AO.   But  NE or  Midwest snowstorms do NOT happen  because of the  Graph line from  a chart  from CPC.    For  Example    a Ridge or Block  over the  UK does  technically count as  “-NAO”  pattern but for    NE  US Snowstorms    having a  Ridge or Block  at 500 MB over the UK  is the Kiss of  death.

This first map is the 500 MB from December 14, 2001. Again I have highlighted the map so you can see the features I am talking about.

What you can quickly observe on this map is that the PV — polar vortex –is centered north of Alaska on the Asian side of the Arctic circle which is    EXACTLY   where the PV   stayed all  Winter back in 2001-02.

This next image is from the current winter and we can see two maps – 6 NOV 2011 and 7 JAN 2012. And clearly the overpowering feature on these maps is the persistent deep vortex centered over Alaska the Bering sea far eastern Siberia then or the east Asian side of the arctic circle.

Next here is the image from 19 January 2012…. And lo and behold what do we see ??? The enormous PV still centered over Alaska and the Bering sea!!. Its massive its deep and its huge and it’s blocking all the cold air on the wrong side of the world so that there is simply no sustained colder source in North America.

Over the past several days however there has been increasing signals from SOME weather Models of a massive historic pattern reversal with all sorts a severe arctic cold rapidly overrunning the entire eastern CONUS and all sorts of fabulous looking patterns that support snow storms.

Let me be clear about this.    Despite what you may have heard/ read  from other sources  that  may  be just trying to sell you  product and subscriptions… most of   drive for  Much colder / snowier  feb 2012  is being driven  by the GFS model. The European model   as well as  the GFS and the European ENSEMBLES are not nearly as bullish are not nearly as extreme as the operational GFS.

THE 12z GFS JAN 27….

Let’s take a look and see how and why the operational GFS has been showing this  and why  it probably will continue to be out to lunch for several days… and why the extreme solution of this model is unlikely to verify.

This image is the 120 hr 500 mb map… VALID for FEB1.   We can see that the NAO is strongly positive     ( note the closed 500 low OVER Greenland )      but we can also see north of Alaska on the top upper left of the map the age of the Polar vortex.   There is a shortwave or a piece of energy in the southern jet stream over New Mexico which is beginning to develop.

In this next image at 156 hrs OR FEB 2 … We see the northern branch beginning to merge with that system over the Mexico and a fairly deep trough trying to develop over the Eastern US     . But the arctic air hasNOT   yet reached the East Coast so the Low pressure area that develops over the SE coast ridge up the front produces rain across the Middle Atlantic states and into the big cities of Ide 95.     I got several emails today about the GFS forecasting a snowstorm on February 2 for the northeast… But as you can see the model data from the GFS does not show that at all.

This next image we can see the GFS at DAY8 or 192 hrs.   The   northern Jet stream has   continued to dig out  a   deep trough  that covers much of the Midwest and Deep South.     There appears to be some sort of  surface Low pressure area developing on or off the Southeast US. Coast..    And we have a nice looking 50/50 low off the Canadian maritime provinces.      But more importantly the model still shows the large polar vortex (PV) on the very top upper left of the map.

Remember folks that after 192 hours the model resolution of the GFS shifts or expands dramatically. The cause of this model truncation within the GFS… The model has developed a reputation for coming up with really wacky goofy solutions

We can see a good example of that at 240 hours.  For some reason the  GFS  at 240 hrs  has  grabbed the Polar vortex that was to the north of the northern side of Alaska and pulled it hundreds of miles for the south  in  a very short period of time— into southern Hudson’s Bay Canada.      This solution is well preposterous. It’s absurd.     The pattern is very impressive looking and nearly ideal or textbook for the development of a major East Coast winter storm. It’s just not likely to happen.

We see more of the same sort of crap at 300 hrs … By which time the model has completely lost it’s mind.    Do you really think the Polar vortex is going to be centered over Montreal Canada on February 8??? 


This solution is so extreme and so laughable that  the 12z GFS ensemble is totally against this solution. It keeps   the   heart of the Polar Vortex   STILL well to the north of Alaska on the Asian side of the Arctic circle and a secondary weaker extension of the vortex swing through Baffin island and northern Hudson’s bay and Labrador.



What the GFS ENSEMBLE is telling us is a fairly deep trough along the East Coast that will bring in some decent cold air for several days. But because there is nothing to lock the trough in position over the eastern U.S. it will slide off the coast and as it does so the NAO will turn strongly positive.

This next image is from January 7, 2002. And we see the large PV extending across the north slope of Alaska into far North Central Canada across the arctic region but not really moving into any portion of central and Eastern Canada.

At the time the weather models were developing a significant trough over the eastern U.S. And talked about the potential of a significant pattern change coming in the days after January 8 2002.

Amazingly enough this 500 map from 7 JAN 2002 is darn close to identical to what the 192 DAY 8 GFS model showed today.     The shape of the trough over the eastern U.S. back in 2002 is identical to what the data eight GFS model looks like. The attempt by the Polar vortex to move across Northern Canada 7 JAN 2002… Very similar to what the model is showing for next week. And just like back in 2002 in the first week in January were a lot of meteorologists fought that this was going to be the beginning of the big pattern change… we see the same sort of thing going on here in January 2012.




This FIRST image is actually from the early morning or 0z European model run of JAN 27 … VALID FEB 3 and FEB 7 . We can clearly see the model showing the huge massive Polar Vortex on the Asian side of the arctic circle and it is nowhere near the northern hemisphere.      Yes we do have a strong ridge on the West Coast and yes we do have a deep trough over the East Coast (+PNA) but the Arctic 0scillation (AO) is still VERY positive because it is very intense … It has lots of lines around it and it’s located over the arctic region.



There is a little extension or trough coming off the arctic oscillation moving through northeastern Canada at Day 10. Once that features swings eastward into Greenland at Day 11… the NAO turns strongly positive.

How was is different from anything we’ve seen so far this winter??    Except for the brief transitory trough over the eastern CONUS … It is the same pattern!

Here is the operational European from 12z JAN 27… DAY 10….valid JAN 27.     It seems to look to be a very promising and very winter like pattern developing. There’s a nice ridge      on the West Coast we appear to have some sort of block developing over East Central Canada which would be ideal… Cold air appears to be coming southward.


But again if we take a look at the European ensemble we see a very different story. The ensemble still keeps the huge vortex centered over Siberia and the Asian side of the arctic circle and that is just the wrong position to get sustained cold winter pattern over any portion of the central and eastern CONUS. It is strikingly similar to the problem we had in the winter of 2001-02…


Finally let me be absolutely clear about this.    The first week of February will probably feature some cold temperatures some of the cold air might be kind of impressive for a few days. As I said last update … I am not in any way ruling out the possibility of a significant snow for at least some portion of northeast U.S. And I have not EVER said ” no more cold “.

But I see nothing at the convince me that the pattern is going to change because just like in the Winter 2001-02 The PV remains in the wrong position and there vast majority of the model data keeps the Polar vortex in that position on the wrong side of the globe.



Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Tuesday 24 January 2012 10:30 am

24 JAN 1030  EST     STARDATE    201201.24


There  is a famous scene and photograph from world war two where field Marshal Walter Model is talking to Hitler about the options left in the  Battle of the  Bulge   (a.k.a.   The Ardennes Offensive).  And in that conference   Model says to   Hitler…

” We must  face  the   facts   squarely  mein Furhrer …we   cannot force our way to the  Muese River. It is over”

That’s where  we  are right now.  Like the Ardennes Winter offensive of December 1944 …the cold weather or winter counteroffensive of 2012  is in serious trouble and is likely headed for total collapse and failure .    With the  Battle of the Bulge there are several important reasons for this–  the initial reaction of the American troops   along the   Our  River   and Elsenborn Ridge…  the inability to take   the key  town/ road junctions of  St Vith  until DEC 21  and  Bastogne which was  never  taken…  Just to name a few  reasons.

With regard to this particular winter   –or non winter depending on your point of view  –    the problems remain immense and the model depiction of how the pattern is going to evolve over the next 10 days has been really bad.    The   various    weather models  keep forecasting these sorts of significant developments of what the pattern is going to look several days down the road .   Yet  when that time  arrives and we compare the actual atmosphere to the forecast from six or eight days ago we see huge discrepancies .

Therefore if you are hoping  for…or anticipating a significant change in the overall pattern across North America and/ or the northern hemisphere which will bring about a stormy  and or colder  pattern for the eastern  CONUS…  well   you are in trouble.  It’s not going to happen . 

There  still remain  a decent possibility of a significant winter storm at some point in February or March for the eastern U.S. and especially the East Coast.  But in terms of a prolonged pattern    flip  or change?   NO. 

In the last discussion I wrote   (  BIG BERTHA   and the BUTT   SISTERS)     I tried to walk a fine line between optimism and reality.  There have been several false signals  given off by both the European and the GFS models during the past several weeks which seem to be indicating the pattern was about the  switch.  But I   also emphasized that despite repeated attempts by various models to accurately forecast  the AO and the NAO   to go negative….  In every case the models have turn out to be disastrously wrong.  Only twice since the beginning of autumn has  the AO and the  NAO  dropped into negative territory but that is not what we seen from the various weather models time after time after time over the past several weeks.


There is simply no other  way to say this.    The GFS  European and Canadian models…  Both with respect to the operational and  the ensemble  — have been  wrong.  As an extremely wrong.     As in  ” without a clue”.

Invariably   when  the models begin to see that things are not turning out as earlier forecasted they come up with a new solution after adjusting the pattern and delaying the cold.

For example  this image compares  the  European   Model / ensemble  from JAN 18  valid day 6…   to  TODAY  Jan 24.   

A quick glance would show that the day 6 European model has verified pretty well when compared to what the atmosphere actual looks like over the northern hemisphere today January 24.  But there is an important difference and that has to do with the key feature I talked about on January 18… which was the development of   New   Vortex over the Sea of Japan.  It was this feature on the  JAN18   European model at day6  that  was  suppose  to start  the entire pattern change.  However if we look at the current image  we see this   Vortex  is  NOT anywhere near the Sea of Japan…  It over the north side of Siberia almost in the arctic regions.

This has huge implications for the entire pattern.

Indeed  if we look at the   European model  ensemble   from JAN18   valid  at day 10…  And compare it to the    JAN  24   0z  European model for   JAN 28-29 … The differences are quite significant.

The   European  ensemble   at day  10  from  Jan 18… valid for the 28th …  Showed a very large powerful new vortex  centered  over the Sea of Japan.  The updated version of the European  model    valid for the 29th of January does NOT  show that  this feature at all!  There is   NO  deep close 500 low anywhere near the Sea of Japan ….so the entire pattern is fundamentally changed and the development of  the colder wintry pattern for North America does not exist.   Instead we have of new deep vortex over the north side of Alaska which is where is been for most of the winter and is the proverbial kiss of death for getting any sort of sustained cold winter patterns in the eastern half of the U.S.

Its Over.

Looking at day 10… valid FEB 3  …  We see more the same sort of thing.  The   PV  is centered over the western side of the arctic region barely reaching into the western hemisphere.  All the truly cold air is located on the Pacific side of the arctic circle not on the Canadian side.  This is simply the wrong location   for the PV  to be located IF you are trying to get the pattern to change over the eastern half of North America.


What a god awful nightmare…  If you like a winter weather in the eastern U.S.

Even if we try and project or hold for something to change down the road we  run into problems.  The general trend of the Arctic Oscillation   ( the  AO)  is moving back towards a neutral and is no longer dropping into the negative territory.   WHY?   Because the PV that was in the gulf Alaska and heelped  bring about the Seattle and Pacific Northwest snow and ice storm did  NOT move   east into western or Central Canada  ( like the Models    forecasted).     Instead it has reformed on the north side of Alaska where it  has  been for most of this winter…  which really is  + AO position.

Even the    negative trend in the NAO has halted and  the GFS  ensemble    show the NAO   levelling off at Neutral.     Again go back and reread what the model data and the trends are showing on January 18.     This was not   the way things supposed to be evolving .



And if you are a professional meteorologist and you cannot see this   then   you are  trying   to sell somebody something  or  you are  delusional.

And really  the pattern does not change much  no matter  what we look at with respect to any particular model.  For example here is the day 10 GFS  — the 0z run–   ensmeble mean.  We have a moderate sized trough in the east a little bit of a ridge  on the West Coast…  which  by the way  the European model does not have…  The dark purple areas clearly show  2  PVs  located on the Pacific side of the arctic circle .  Another words although really serious cold air is located on the long side of the world to get a sustained cold pattern to develop in North America


  *****     It is hard to understate how   damaging it is with respect to the pattern the evolving into  a  cold one over the eastern half of North America and the U.S.  with a huge vortex of centered over Alaska or snow on the western side of the arctic circle.  ****

If we look at say the  8-14 day   reforecast model from  ESRL …  The pink areas clearly show some sort of  -NAO   but the pronounced and very noticeable dark Blue  areas over Northern Alaska is  STILL   there and shows no signs of moving.  What this feature does is essentially cause the Pacific jet to become very strong…  And therefore  there   can be no  sort  of  pattern a amplification over the  eastern pacific / west coast of North America   ( NO +PNA  and distinct tendency to get a – PNA).


One last  note: if we do  in fact keep  and  hold   the -NAO   into   a good portion of   FEB … then  it still  might  be possible to  get  a surprise a snowstorm for the  northeast US  of the some magnitude.  By surprise I am talking about relative terms — inother words it might be something that 10 days out looks like nothing and then in the last 72 hours things change into a moderate or significant snowstorm for the northeast U.S.    In order get something like this to happen there would have to be some sort of pattern amplification occurring on the West Coast   – a ridge over    western US / Canada–   that would cause a  short wave to  dig much further to the south resulting in some sort a cyclogenesis over the southeast U.S.







Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Wednesday 18 January 2012 11:31 pm

2330  EST  18 JAN   …. STARDATE   201201.18

I love forecasting snowstorms  in the Pacific Northwest.    It doesn’t happen very often  but   when it does  happen… is really quite interesting and very different from what we get in the northeast US.  Back in the winter of 2006-7  or  2007-8    a really great pattern set up for the Pacific Northwest around Christmas time and that  region  got   hammered with significant snow and ice storms –even  Christmas Day in Seattle and Portland and much of the northwest.  My experience over the past few decades has been that if you are not getting the Pacific Northwest right   –the West Coast and general but especially the Pacific Northwest– than the rest   of your  forecast is going to suck Moose  balls.

I am not going to spend a lot of time talking about the moderate snow event which is likely to move through portions of the upper Midwest the Great Lakes and the interior of the Northeast US  on JAN  20-21.  In fact if this was a regular winter this should be a pretty ordinary event and not get any intention are all.  Essentially what happens is that a wave of   Low pressure develops on the front as the large cold high over the north these slides off  the Maine  coast.  The Low tracks   into  WVA  then    through PA.  It’s a pretty weak system and a dozen have a lot of moisture with it and it’s moving pretty fast.  Still for the snow lovers  in the NE…  some snow for folks in the Northeast is better  than NO snow.
Now I know many of you in the eastern U.S. and especially in the northeast are probably shrieking or thinking    “Hey   DT  you  ignorant geek … who  Gives  a rat ass  about  the  the   Pacific Northwest?…”     If you are asking that question or thinking those thoughts…  then you’ve got a problem because you  are missing something really important about this particular snowstorm.    Not so much  about   the Pacific NW   snowstorm  per se… but  what is causing it …the implications for the entire pattern as  we  move into  February.  So pay attention there   sparky and let me tell you how Big Bertha  and her huge Butt plays into this whole thing .
By now I am sure  some of you have heard or read about the potential for significantly different pattern setting up  over  the next two weeks so that February and perhaps March 2012  end up being colder than normal or… at least  the threat or the possibility of it being colder  than normal over the eastern CONUS .    There are strong indications are  this MIGHT     happen but we have to be careful here.  We  have been  down this road a couple times before…  and every time we have gotten close or looks like the pattern is starting to change… it  turns to     Moose  Crap.    So if you have your snow boggles on and you all excited because somebody in Pennsylvania or in New England is telling you that this time it’s really really really gonna happen…  be careful.


A word to the wise.  Saying the same thing over and over and over again… or in this case forecasting the pattern change the pattern change the pattern change…  only to see the pattern finally change…  is not REALLY  forecasting weather.   What you are doing is saying the same bullshit  over and over  and over.   In other words if your  forecasting skills in the extended and long range   have been really good  in the last two winters…  But now you seem to have trouble figure out was going to happen and when / IF the pattern change is going to occur…    that  is  probably a clue  you are  doing something wrong.
This first image shows us the long  terms trends  of the NAO and the AO since September. 

 As you can see from the image it is readily apparent  that the NAO and AO have only drop into the negative territory twice since the up SEPT 15 !!!    But more importantly since December there had been a several tries or surges where both the  NAO and the AO have reached the Neutral Line  — which I have  Number as  you can see.   And every case the model data showing the AO or the NAO   would  drop to  negative territory but in every instance  -  EVERY    INSTANCE–      both the  AO and the NAO bounced back up strongly into positive territory and all of the model data turned out to be disastrously wrong.      So again if you’re absolutely certain that the pattern to  turn around  and that it is  going to  turn out  to be a great February and March 2012… BE  CAREFUL.  The trend here is not your friend.  Of course that’s not to say the trend can not be broken but it does need to be respected .



This next image shows the overall pattern back on January 15.   As you can see from the image itself I’ve highlighted the massive explosion in the WPO  as a turn negative and built a huge rage into the Bering sea….  and Alaska…  that expanded all the way into the western and Asian  side of the Arctic circle.   This  explosiove   Ridge developemnt  was caused primarily by the stratospheric warming event.  Also keep in mind that when the models of first detected this development   –  back in late DEC and  early JAN– most of them showed this would lead to a much colder middle and the latter January…  Which as we  all now know…  did NOT  happen.    Instead… the huge Ridge in the Bering sea and the western side of the Arctic circle moved into eastern Siberia.    This in turn allow the polar vortex to move into western Canada and eventually into the Gulf Alaska were it is currently  situated.  It was this very movement of the  PV which is  WHY the arctic air came pouring over the Rockies in the continental divide into the Pacific Northwest and the Seattle Portland metro areas!!!   


But more importantly is how the pattern slowly evolves.  This next image shows the  72  hr — 12z  JAN 18  run-   valid  JAN 21.  I  have highlighted the individual disturbances or impulses and Pacific jet stream and you can clearly see the amazingly cold bitter arctic air mass over Northern Canada  that is associated with this  super   positive  AO.    This is one of the reasons why having such a strongly positive arctic oscillation is so bad for those wanting winter storms over the central or eastern CONUS.  As you look at this image    you can  clearly see   that  in this sort of  flow there  is very little way to get that cold air to come southward .

We can see a new development which is a  core  or center of the  PV reemerging or developing over anchorage or in the Gulf of Alaska.  Meanwhile more strong impulse is a batter the West Coast move across the Rockies into the planes bringing in much milder air


120 HR  ECMWF   VALID   JAN 23…  In this image I have highlighted the upper air map at 500 MB  and the  SURFACE map.  The piece of energy in the central Plains   develops into a significant winter storm for the Great Lakes which pulls up a lot of warm air into the northeast U.S.  Chicago   COULD have another  significant snowstorm however.   More importantly however it is this buildup of warm air along the East Coast which is driven northward into the high latitudes and forces the Heights to rapidly warm or increase over Eastern Canada.  Sometimes is buildup of warm air and increasing Heights can cause the NAO   to flip especially when it’s followed by several surges of warm air from the eastern U.S. into  eastern and southeastern Canada.

That is exactly what happens over the JAN  24-25-26   time frame.

This  image is a hemispheric shot of the European model at   DAY 6 .. JAN 24 .  I  have highlighted some important features which are occurring at this time over the hemisphere.  The most important  is  feature  #1 which shows a another Ridge exploding northward into the arctic regions from the northern Pacific however this is significantly different than what we saw back on January 14-15.  That ridge   exploded northward over the Bering sea and we did not have a PV  (Polar Vortex)   in the gulf Alaska  which will  likely have   JAN 24-25.     This  Ridge develops over eastern Siberia…  because of the new vortex which forms over the Sea of Japan.  The development of a deep vortex / 500 Low  in the Sea of Japan is  text book teleconnection for a much colder pattern over the eastern U.S.    


   ASSUMING   this is correct   the Ridge in Eastern   Siberia will begin to drive the  PV in the gulf Alaska…  to the   east into Western Canada which begins to alter the entire pattern.

At Day 7  JAN 25…  The Great Lakes Low is now over southeastern Canada but it’s still feeding up warm air into southeastern Canada.  However right behind that we see a major trough amplification over the entire Plains  and the Midwest   ( see  THICK  BLACK Line).  This forces another surge of very warm air into the East Coast.    Meanwhile over the West Coast and the eastern  north Pacific   the  Gulf of Alaska  PV is being driven east   while a  ridge is beginning to form off the California Coast.

DAY 8 …    Again I have  matched up  the upper air map at 500 Mb with the surface  map   so YOU  can follow how things develop.  The new  trough over the Mississippi Valley has caused   a surface Low to form over Alabama…  while warm air surges from the Deep south all the way into the Northeast U.S.     Again I cannot stress how important this warm areas with respect to feeding the developing  or  Building   500 Mb heights over  eastern  Canada …  Which in turn brings about the face change in the   NAO.  So even though I know winter weather lovers in the eastern U.S.  will hate these warm temperatures the two serve a purpose! 

In this next image DAY 9 …  We can compare the European vs. the GFS from a hemispheric perspective.  Both models or a remarkably good agreement as  they  BOTH  show the PV in the gulf Alaska…  They both show some sort of Ridge trying to form off the Southern California Coast in the eastern Pacific…  And they both show some sort of building or increasing Heights over Eastern Canada.

By DAY 10   –lets  use the   EURO ENSEMBLE 500 mb maps – the changes are underway big time.  Big Bertha has now left the gulf Alaska…  or rather is leaving the gulf Alaska and sliding into Canada.  It’s doing so because of the developing ridge  over the Bering sea and eastern Siberia.  In addition the Heights are rising rapidly over Eastern Canada and southern Greenland which indicates the possible development of a -NAO.

The 12z GFS  ensemble – JAN 18 run — strongly agrees with this overall development of the pattern.  In this image we can see the 6-10 day    500 MB  height  CHANGES.  This is useful in showing us where things are trending..  We can see a very strong negative anomaly over the gulf Alaska  which is the strong Polar Vortex.         But we can also see the Heights beginning to increase over Eastern Canada.

Looking at the same product but now for the 11 to 15 day…  We see major changes.  The GFS  ensemble shows the vortex that was in the gulf Alaska  has now shifted east into western or  Central Canada.  The Heights are rapidly building in the Gulf of Alaska and we see increasing Heights over Greenland as part of a  -NAO.

If we look at the  12z GFS  ensemble itself   — the 500 mb  mean –  at   DAY10…  We can see a very close match to what the European ensemble model is showing.  Note the strong vortex over the Sea of Japan!     Note the    ridge over   far eastern  Siberia and the Aleutian islands…  And notice the  dark purple the long date and shading extending from North Central Canada down  to NW Ontario Canada.  This tells me that the model is showing the  PV is splitting apart or redeveloping.

312  HR  the 12z   GFS  Ensemble has evolve into a completely different and full blown winter pattern over the north American continent.  As I have highlighted here…  There is a new deep  PV  over the Sea of Japan…  A very strong Ridge e over the Bering sea and  new PV   with 2 centers: one over  far N  central  Canada  and the  otther over  James bay .  If we accept this model as verbatim or being fairly close to the truth…  We now have a raging +PNA  pattern  a   – AO   a  – NAO and the eastern U.S. is now in business for February winter storms.


This is probably the most important part of the whole discussion given what’s happened this winter.  There are so many things that could go wrong with this sequence of events as shown by the weather models.  But it’s important to do this because you don’t want  get caught up in the mental loop  or  trap of believing that the pattern change HAS  to occur because the weather models say it has to occur.

1) the development of the deep   500 Low that becomes a new polar vortex feature in the Sea of Japan.  If this feature does not develop   THEN the entire pattern change will fall into a pile of  Moose    crap.      It is this feature which causes the Ridge to develop over eastern Siberia and the Bering sea.  If there is no big  500  mb Low  in the sea Japan in the last few days of January then   the ridge  will act  TOTALLY different…  And it will not cause the changes to occur across North America.

2)  this is related to  #1  above.   Suppose the   PV in the Gulf of Alaska it does not move.  Say goodbye to the pattern change.

3)  THE  WARMTH  over the   eastern  US does NOT   reach into   eastern  Canada …  Which in turn would mean a much weaker  -NAO.  Or it might only force the NAO   to go to briefly neutral…  which as I stated at the beginning of this essay  has been the trend all winter long.






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.


Posted by wxrisk | GENERAL,WINTER 2011-12 | Monday 9 January 2012 8:15 am

0800  EST   9 JAN  2011… STARDATE   201201.9


The 6z the operational GFS this morning is developing some sort of coastal storm just after  day 10  for the Northeast US.  The model does not show a huge event but it definitely shows a secondary Low  developing in the arctic air and bringing a moderate to significant snowfall for the northeast U.S.  Mostly to the north a Washington, DC Baltimore area.

I do  NOT   like that solution for number   of  reasons and those reasons actually end up supporting the solution I talked about  over at   HARDCORE–JAN 7post.   To begin with the 6z GFS  ensemble  does NOT   support  the  6z operational GFS .  But more importantly with the GFS to showing is the development of a deep trough over the eastern U.S   day 9-10  as opposed to a broad U shaped trough  from the  European  AND  GFS  ensembles.

In addition  the GFS  develops this  deep  eastern  US trough  by forcing the NAO  to shift for more rapidly into a negative phase .  And that solution if you look at the overall pattern makes no sense.  Eventually I do believe the  NAO  is going to go negative   BUT   as long as the huge  Polar  Vortex  / +AO is still up across northern hudson’s bay and Baffin island …  That was features a large circulation will still keep Heights way below normal over Greenland …  Which of course precludes  a -NAO   development by day 9/ 10 .

Indeed if we take a look at the European model  and european Ensemble…  we see a much more reasonable solution especially given the persistent strength of the Pacific jet stream which has been a major aspect of this winter since the middle of November so far.      The operational European shows the huge block which is developing from the Bering  Sea  into the western half of the arctic region  ( called a  -WPO   by meteorologists and  Climatologists) .  That in turn is forcing  the PV / +AO  slowly southward  and   THAT movement of the  +AO  in turn is forcing the arctic air south in all directions… SOUTHWEST  …  DUE SOUTH  and  SOUTHEAST.    And THAT in turnn is forcing the   STJ  to the south as well.


This movement an overall solution to the pattern is strongly supported by  the  European ensemble


AND   GFS ensembles…  which all show the  same  sort of thing     day 8-9-10.


Next Page »