Despite the fact that school has kept me busy over the last week, I couldn’t keep myself from doing an article on a potential storm system that I am keeping my eye on for mid-March. Now let me mention a couple of things before I get into my reasoning. Yes, I am well aware that forecast models are not calling for a big storm system in mid-March, which doesn’t surprise me at all considering we’re just barely into March. I want to again mention the fact that I look at cycles and trends to make these long-range forecasts and don’t necessarily need forecast models to be supporting my ideas this far out. Weather and climate always repeats itself, and it consists of small, medium, and large cycles. If you can identify some of the smaller cycles within a particularly winter, you can predict the cold/warm spells and big storm systems a lot easier. If you question whether this works or not, go back and look at my previous forecasts for this winter and then recall what actually happened a couple of weeks later. Some winters are much harder to forecast for than others, but so far, these methods have worked quite well for this winter. Remember, all winters are different in some way though.
As I’ve stated many times now, this winter has been nothing short of remarkable and has been a great year to be a meteorologist or weather hobbyist. When you have a winter like this, you can learn A LOT, and I can say that I definitely have. This is going to be a winter that is not going to want to let up, and we are likely going to get yet another round of really cold air to push into the eastern United States later in March. As I’ve mentioned, I already have my eye on another system that could develop and push across the Gulf coast states and up the East Coast sometime in mid-March, just as this cold air may be in place. Now let me be clear that a storm system like this developing is not set in stone, but the possibility needs to be watched very closely.
One of the things that I’m watching closely right now is the storminess that is going to be occurring over Japan over the next few days. So why should we care what is happening in Japan? Well, in many cases, you can look at what is going on around the globe, and it can tell you what will happen in the United States in the future. Typically when you have a storm system to develop over Japan, you get a storm system in the United States about a week or week and a half later. I don’t need forecast models to tell me that a storm system could develop in the United States in mid-March when I can just look halfway around the globe and see what is actually happening. So how can we know who this storm system is going to impact?
Lezak’s Recurring Cycle (LRC) is something that sets up in the fall and lasts through the winter. Every winter is different, but you can use what has occurred earlier in the season to predict what will occur later in the season. If you use the LRC for this season, you would see that it supports the idea of troughing setting up over the eastern United States and ridging over the western United States in mid-March. It also supports the idea of a potentially big system occurring in this timeframe, and how I know where it could potentially go is by looking at what a similar storm system did back in January. It really is amazing how these cycles set up, and I wish many meteorologists would start looking at seasonal cycles more often. Their forecasts would probably improve greatly.
So let me sum all of this up! Again, I am looking at the potential for a big storm system to move across the Gulf Coast states and up the East Coast in mid-March. Depending how much cold air is in place at the time will determine who gets wintry precipitation and who doesn’t. If the past is any indication of what the pattern will look like in mid-March, I’d say that many areas, particularly along the East Coast, could be dealing with a big winter storm. It’s a little more questionable for areas of the South, but parts of the Southeast could get in on the wintry precipitation. The reason that this becomes so tricky is the fact that it’ll be mid-March. For obvious reasons, it’s harder to get wintry weather later in the season, but it has definitely happened before. Given how crazy this winter has been, this would be the year that it happens again.
Another thing that I want to mention is the severe weather threat that could accompany this system and impact extreme southern portions of the Gulf Coast states especially into Florida. That would need to be watched closely given that it is March, and that severe weather is quite common in the warm sector of these systems this time of year.
Again, the point of this article is to introduce the possibility of a potentially big storm system in mid-March. Nothing is ever set in stone with weather, and all of this will require me to do further updates and articles. Please like the Firsthand Weather Facebook page, where I put updates out quite often. I hope everyone has a good rest of the evening!
Matthew Holliday is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, where he completed a B.S. in Meteorology and a B.S. in Geographic Information Science. He is currently pursing his master's degree in meteorology and climatology at Mississippi State University. Matthew founded Firsthand Weather in 2010 as a senior in high school and maintained the site through his undergraduate career. Research that was conducted by Matthew while at OU involved determining the synoptic environment in which various types of wave clouds (including vertically propagating waves and trapped waves) develop in Boulder, Colorado and Norman, OK. Matthew also did research on spatial changes in tornado activity across the United States . The goal of this study was to determine if spatial changes in tornado activity had occurred and if those changes could be linked to changes in average surface dew point temperature. Matthew has completed coursework in dynamics, thermodynamics, cloud physics, calculus and differential equations, statistics, remote sensing, GIS, synoptic meteorology, and mesoscale meteorology. His goal is to provide his audience with a deeper understanding of what drives our weather and climate, while making it easy and enjoyable to learn.