This isn’t my typical article, but I decided to post on the site since this update will be too lengthy for Facebook. We have a lot going on with the weather, and January is going to bring a lot of active weather across the United States. I’ll be breaking this down further in a future article, but I want to hit a few high points. I’m currently working on my January forecast, so I will be digging much deeper into what is going on and will be sharing my research with you soon.
On a side note, for anyone claiming that they have this winter figured out, they most likely don’t. I’ve seen some posting about how this winter isn’t coming, and then I’ve seen others posting about how we all just need to wait a few more days for the cold to get here. . . You get the point. Model guidance has been of little help this winter, which I’ll be explaining why that has been the case in my next article.
Because the model guidance will likely continue to be of little help beyond a few days out, that’s why it’s very important to take all of the pieces of the “puzzle” and put them together so we all can have a clearer picture of what is going to take place in January. It won’t be perfect, but it surely will be better than blindly following forecast models. I will openly admit that I have my uncertainties about January and February, but that’s what Firsthand Weather is for. . .to hash through all of this and figure out what is going on.
Las Vegas Snow Potential and the Southern Plains Ice Storm/Snow Storm Potential:
A strong piece of energy is going to be diving south into the Southwestern U.S. while a upper-level ridge builds to the north. At the surface, a very cold high pressure system is going to move in and begin pulling in Arctic cold from the north and wrapping it around into the Southwest. This is the perfect setup for wintry weather for these regions including southern California, southern Nevada including Las Vegas, Utah, Arizona, and New Mexico. It’s not necessarily unheard of for the desert regions to get snow, but this could actually be a big deal. I wouldn’t be surprised if Las Vegas gets a decent snowstorm out of this, similar to what occurred in 2008.
The upper-level feature will then move into the Southern Plains, and this has the potential to be a very big deal for that region. We’re talking a potential ice storm for parts of Texas into Oklahoma, and then this system should shoot northeast. Since it’s so late, I’ll post more details tomorrow, but this is something to watch closely.
Don’t Think That Winter Is Over:
I know that most of you are about to get a strong taste of winter, but the East Coast and particularly the Southeast are wondering if winter will actually come. I strongly feel that it will. Right now, there are some ridging issues across the Southeastern U.S. and this will continue, but we have no true blocking to help suppress that ridge further to the South. A lot of meteorologists focus primarily on the Arctic Oscillation and the North Atlantic Oscillation, but it is one of many factors. We may have another situation like last winter where it won’t matter later in January/February what the AO/NAO is doing due to what’s going on in the Pacific and over Alaska.
In early January, the overall pattern may not favor Deep South and East Coast storms, but we have ridging setting up over Alaska and a polar vortex that is about to weaken very quickly. All of that cold has been bottling up, but when it really breaks lose, it could really be severe. On top of that, I expect the storm track to shift further south towards middle January. So for those saying winter is over, I’m here to tell you that it hasn’t even started yet.
Again, I have my uncertainties. We have a very strong Pacific jet stream that has been messing with the overall pattern, and it wouldn’t hurt for that to weaken. Everything should start to shift colder further to the east later in the month, but it’s just a matter of when. If I’m wrong, I’ll openly admit that on this site, but I’ve got a strong feeling that those who have already changed their forecasts warmer are going to regret it. We shall see. As you’ve heard me saying many times, it only takes one variable to throw off an entire forecast.
I’ll keep you all updated. Be sure to keep following Firsthand Weather on Facebook.
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.