Sunday, December 20, 2015

Early Signals For Pattern Change in Early January

There are emerging signals for a change to a colder and snowier pattern in the early days of January 2016.

The image above shows the GFS Ensemble mean 500mb height anomaly forecast for hour 384- the infamous fantasy land, end of the run panel. The ensembles are expecting ridging to build up along the west coast of North America, with troughing taking over in the Bering Sea and Arctic Circle. This kind of pattern would likely promote an overall-cooler set-up than the one we're currently in, which will feature well above normal temperatures on Christmas Day.

You all know I wouldn't post a 384-hour graphic without good reason, so let's dive in.

The ensemble forecasts out of the Climate Prediction Center for the Pacific North American (PNA) index show a dip to negative values as we head to Christmas, but then rising to neutral, and even positive values to kick off 2016. The majority of members are in positive territory by the start of the new year. The relative consensus of most ensemble members on a neutral or positive value of the PNA is encouraging for winter weather fans. Positive PNA values typically result in colder and snowier weather for the Central and East US, while negative PNA values result in warmer weather.
Some of you may ask why it's been so warm even though the PNA was positive in December- that can be attributed to the El Nino, producing enhanced convection in a part of the Equatorial Pacific conducive for warm weather here in the U.S., however that's a topic for another post.

A grand overview of four key teleconnections reveals this improving pattern (improving, at least in the eyes of winter weather fans). We see a continued positive EPO through the forecast timeframe- if you're more knowledgeable, you'll recall that the positive phase of the East Pacific Oscillation (EPO) encourages colder weather in the eastern 2/3rds of the country, while the negative phase encourages warmth. The WPO (West Pacific Oscillation) closely follows those guidelines as well.
As noted earlier, we see the forecasted PNA rising to at least neutral values in the long range near the start of 2016.

If all of these forecasted indices and teleconnections verify on an as-is basis (which, I may add, is rather unlikely), we could expect a cooler pattern in the Central and East US. This would be mitigated by the positive phases of the Arctic Oscillation (shown in the first image by negative height anomalies across the Arctic Circle) and North Atlantic Oscillation (shown in the first image by weak troughing over Greenland), both of which tend to discourage persistence of colder weather.

To summarize:

- There are indications that a pattern change may be on the way for the start of 2016.
- Model guidance will change drastically, and this is nowhere near set in stone. However, if this does verify to a certain degree, a cooler pattern may be on the horizon.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Joe Bastardi and Ryan Maue have been predicting that it will get colder, Jan, Feb and March.
They have put this out on weather Bell for some time.