Highly Disruptive Snowstorm Expected To Hit The East Coast

Hi-res 12z NAM Projected Snowfall Accumulations

November has been a fun month, but I’m ready for something new. As I mentioned on the Facebook page last night, most of you should have been prepared for this East Coast winter storm potential about two to three weeks ago if you have been following my forecasts, but I will admit that nailing down the specifics of this storm has been challenging. For those of you who have followed my forecasts for a while (particularly last winter), you already know that what I typically do is try to give you an early heads up on a potential storm or pattern change, and while I cover the specifics of a storm once it actually happens, it’s hard for me to put out very localized snowfall/rainfall maps since I’m currently running Firsthand Weather by myself. You can get pretty decent short-term forecasts from a lot of places, but what you can’t get are decent medium and long-range forecasts. That’s where I come in.

Before I talk about the Thanksgiving storm, I want to go ahead and give you an early heads up about a pattern change that will likely bring a large portion of the United States above average temperatures in early December after this next cold push. I want to make two special notes: this is only going to be a temporary warm-up, and we will be flipping back cold across the central and eastern United States later in December. This isn’t going to be some long-term warm-up like some of the long-range models have been projecting, and I expect the forecast models to begin to paint a colder picture after we get past this brief warm-up. One last thing to remember is that November was incredibly cold for most, so what may seem warmer is actually just a little bit above average. Nonetheless, warmer temperatures are coming for the central and eastern United States, so enjoy them because we have a brutal winter ahead.

Thanksgiving East Coast Storm Breakdown:

I wrote an article on Sunday that went into the meteorology behind what was going on, so in this article, I want to give you the details on what to actually expect from this storm. As I’ve already mentioned countless times, this is going to be a hugely disruptive storm for the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast on Wednesday going into Thursday, particularly for inland regions. Areas from northern Virginia through eastern Pennsylvania and inland regions across the Northeast will be getting the highest snowfall accumulations. Some of those areas could get anywhere from around 3 to 6 inches all the way up to a foot of snow or more. Adequate cold air will be available to support an all-snow event for those regions, and the snow to rain rations should be about 10 to 1, maybe even 12 to 1. That basically means for every 1 inch of liquid precip, you get about 10 inches of snow.

Areas closer to the coast, such as Washington, D.C. and New York City, are located in the zone that has been more complicated to forecast, and it has really come down to how much cold air will be available. There are two things that could lower overall totals for those located in these regions: many across this area may start out as rain and change over to snow and the overall snow ratios will be lower. Determining where exactly this snow/rain line will setup has been very tricky and will basically determine who gets pounded and who doesn’t. Most model guidance has come into agreement that these cities will not be the hardest hit but will get some decent snowfall accumulations. Just take note that this is a highly volatile storm, and anything could change even this close.

Places like Boston need to watch this as well since this is another city that is located on the borderline zone. Right now, it looks like the heaviest snowfall accumulations will be just west of the city, but regardless, things need to be watched. Areas across eastern Maine including the coast will likely get hammered with very heavy snowfall. I wouldn’t be surprised if some of those areas got well over a foot of snow.

This is the fun part about these types of storms because despite model agreement, you can still get those last minute surprises. Tomorrow is just not a good day to be traveling up the coast!

The North Carolina mountains could also get some accumulating snowfall with this system, but it’s going to be hard for areas outside of the mountains in the Southeast to get any measurable snowfall. However, as this storm strengthens and moves up the coast, there could be a transition to some wet snowfall outside of the mountains as temperatures fall across the non-mountainous regions. It’ll be interesting to watch, but it’s nothing that I expect to be hugely disruptive.

Below are the projected snowfall accumulations from the 12z NAM. Please note that snowfall totals are likely overdone along the coastal regions. Remember as I mentioned above that snowfall ratios may be lower than 10:1 closer to the coast, and this map is based on a 10:1 ratio. Also this has a difficult time taking into account any mixture or changeover of precipitation. Nonetheless, this should give you an idea as to where the heavy snows will most likely fall.

Hi-res 12z NAM Projected Snowfall Accumulations

Hi-res 12z NAM Projected Snowfall Accumulations

Be sure to follow Firsthand Weather on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I will keep all of those pages updated throughout this winter storm and will put the larger updates on this site.

Thanksgiving East Coast Storm Potential On The Table

The latest GFS model is further east with the heaviest snowfall accumulations.

I’m going to admit right out of the chute that this is one tricky forecast and will likely need to be modified. Most of the forecast model guidance agrees that there is going to be a low pressure system to develop over or around Florida and then deepen as it moves up the coast. It is pivotal that we get cold air to move into the eastern U.S. first before the storm moves up the coast. The biggest concern that I have had all along is that there is no true blocking over over Greenland or eastern Canada to lock in the cold air over the eastern U.S., which is why it’s key for the cold air to already to be in place. Still, we could have a situation where rain transitions to snow along many of the coastal regions while areas more inland could most likely see all snow. This has the potential to be a hugely disruptive winter storm on Wednesday, and I recommend that if you have plans to travel up the East Coast that you either leave a day early or be prepared to cancel those plans if needed.

Track and Timing Are Key: 

Now, I said that most of the model guidance has now come into agreement that this storm is going to develop and move up the East Coast. The biggest uncertainty is how far off the coast or how far inland this storm will track, which will make all the difference as to who gets snow, mix, rain, or nothing at all. That’s assuming that adequate cold air is already in place or will move in as the storm moves up the coast. Timing is always key in situations like these! There will be a southern branch system that will be moving across the Gulf Coast states and a northern branch system that will be diving down from the northern Rockies, and these two pieces of energy need to meet and “phase” together. The overall pattern will likely favor cyclogenesis (the development of a low pressure system) around Florida, and this strengthening low will get pulled up the coast. At least that’s what seems most likely right now.

Model Discrepancies:

The European model is almost always the first forecast model to catch onto these types of East Coast storms, and the GFS then follows behind and has to play catch up. That’s what we’re currently seeing take place with the European model as it has been forecasting a big, further west East Coast snowstorm for numerous runs, and finally, the GFS model has now started to pull the track further west along the East Coast. Again, the track of this system is everything and is a big determining factor as to who gets what. The European snowfall totals are likely overdone for many areas due to the lower snow to rain ratios, and the fact that some regions may see a rain-to-snow transition or have other frozen precip mix in. My overall point is that the European model (while it may be too far west) is likely the most viable solution as far as its track of the system, but don’t take the actual snowfall totals to heart. One thing to note is that many of the 00z Euro ensembles (a combination of many variations of the European model) were further east in their tracks. Changes in the potential track will likely occur between now and Wednesday, which is why this is such a difficult forecast and will likely require some modification.

My Forecast: 

Get prepared because this is likely going to be a hugely disruptive winter storm on the busiest travel day of the year. The GFS model has trended further west, and while it is not currently as far west as the Euro, it could now be a viable solution. It has accumulating snow from northern South Carolina/Georgia all up the East Coast but is further east on the heaviest snowfall accumulations. Because of the European model being further west, the heaviest band of snowfall is further inland, and warmer air gets pulled in along the immediate coastline.

My biggest concern regarding snowfall in the Southeastern U.S. is whether or not enough cold air will be available to support snowfall or frozen precipitation. Places like northern Georgia, northern South Carolina, and the westward third of North Carolina could be in that “surprise zone.” Again, the track and amount of cold air in place will be key, but I believe the potential is there.

The Mid-Atlantic and Northeast has a good chance that they will be dealing with a major winter event with heavy snow. As I have said, the track is key as to whether the area of heavy snow is more inland or just along the coast. Again, the European model is further west, and while the GFS model has trended further west, it is still further east. Since many of the European ensembles are further east, I am going with a blend of the two operational models at this time.

The latest GFS model is further east with the heaviest snowfall accumulations.

The latest GFS model is further west with the heaviest snowfall accumulations than previous runs.

Please note that I can’t legally show you the hi-res European model that has the heaviest snowfall accumulations further to the west.

Future Updates: 

Throughout the day, I will be posting numerous updates on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram so be sure to like and follow all of those pages. Also, I will be starting up my newsletter again beginning this winter so be sure to sign up for that by clicking here.

Again, I want to acknowledge that this is a highly uncertain forecast and has been very tricky for me to put all of this together. I plan on putting out another article on the site tomorrow because by then, more model data will have come in. The goal is to eventually put out snowfall maps after the forecast is better fine tuned.

Dallas, TX Rattled By 3.3 Magnitude Earthquake

Did you feel the Dallas earthquake?

A 3.3. magnitude earthquake shook Dallas, TX around 9:15 pm CT tonight. The earthquake’s epicenter was 3 miles east northeast of Irving, TX, and 6 miles northwest of Dallas, TX. According to the USGS website, this earthquake was about 1.7 miles deep. Due to this being a small earthquake, no damage or injuries have currently been reported.

Did you feel this earthquake? Please let us know below in the comments.

The map below shows the areas across Dallas that may have felt some light to moderate shaking.

Did you feel the Dallas earthquake?

Did you feel the Dallas earthquake?

Over 50% Snow Cover Currently Over The United States

This is a quick post to show you just how rapidly the snow cover has expanded this month over the United States. November has been a cold month for most regions in the U.S. and could even rival some of the coldest Novembers on record if we don’t have any huge moderations in temperatures by the end of the month. As the snow seems to be getting heavier, driving in these conditions are not safe. If you work in a business that requires to drive a heavy goods vehicle, it would be best to get wagon insurance to protect you and your vehicle in case of any accident that could occur while travelling in these conditions. You should do the same with any other c=vehicle you have, say a van, by looking at Money Expert (if you’re in the UK). With parts of the Southern Plains getting decent snowfall accumulations yesterday and then areas of the Ohio Valley getting accumulations yesterday and last night, we currently have 50.4% of the United States covered in snow.

Snow Cover - Nov 17 2014

Snow Cover – Nov 17, 2014

That is compared to just 11.0% snow cover last week.

Snow Cover - Nov 10 2014

Snow Cover – Nov 10, 2014

What even becomes more impressive is how quickly the snow cover has expanded over the United States over the last couple of weeks. Ending the month of October, we only had 1.1% snow cover across the U.S., and comparing that to previous Octobers, that is quite low.

Snow Cover - Oct 31, 2014

Snow Cover – Oct 31, 2014

To give you an idea of how this compares to this time last year, about 12.5% of the U.S. was covered in snow. To put all of this in even better perspective, the U.S. typically has about 33% snow cover around Christmas. Amazingly, we currently have much more than that.

Snow Cover - Nov 17, 2013

Snow Cover – Nov 17, 2013

With another Arctic outbreak pushing into the U.S. this week, the snow will not melt much for most areas to start off. In fact, the snow cover on the ground will likely cause this Arctic blast to be even more potent. Records will definitely be challenged or broken for many areas across the U.S.

Below I included a photo that I shared on Instagram earlier that was sent to us by Dale Johnson Moss in Calhoun, GA. This was actually last winter, but I figured it’d get you in the winter mood. Be sure to follow Firsthand Weather on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. I post updates on social media often.

Sunday Weather Ramblings and Snow Photos

Dianne Caldwell Loague sent this to us from her friend in Salem, Wisconsin.

Sometimes my weather updates are too short to put into an article but too long to put on Facebook. I’m going to start doing these weather ramblings articles from time to time just to share some of my current thinking without making any official forecasts. Many of you sometimes want to know what I’m thinking about a particular storm or pattern change, and this will be a more relaxed way for me to give you some tidbits of info before making any big or official forecasts on the site.

Polar Vortex:

The cold air pushing into the United States is very impressive for this time of year, but nothing that was unexpected. I’ve heard the term ‘polar vortex’ being thrown around quite a lot lately, and I realize most of you are probably tired of hearing it. Yes, I realize the media picked up on that term last winter, but that is actually a meteorological phenomenon that has been around for a long time. You can think of the polar vortex as the gatekeeper of the Arctic cold, but sometimes, something causes that gate to open.The polar vortex is just a cold upper-level low pressure system located over the North Pole that typically strengthens during the winter months, but every once in a while, something causes this vortex to weaken or become disturbed. This can displace a piece of the vortex further south as was the case last winter.

You could argue that the cold blast this week is being caused by the polar vortex, but I don’t care to get into that debate. Everything is caused by something though. When Super Typhoon Nuri made its extra-tropical transition in the Bering Sea, a large amount of heat was released into the atmosphere, pumping a big ridge up over Alaska, therefore causing a big trough over most of the United States. That’s enough on all of that for now. Be sure to check out my article from earlier today if you missed it.

500 mb Geopotential Height and Anomaly Map for Monday Night

500 mb Geopotential Height and Anomaly Map for Monday Night

Thanksgiving Storm:

I have been calling this the ‘Thanksgiving storm’ and will continue to refer to it as that, regardless of whether it actually happens on Thanksgiving or a few days before. All of this is actually starting to get VERY interesting. Models are predicating a piece of energy to break off and move southeast into the Californian coast sometime this weekend. This little piece of energy eventually becomes part of a larger trough that is projected to move into the United States next week, and due to all of this, a surface low pressure system develops and begins strengthening over the Southern Plains. This eventually begins to strengthen fairly rapidly as it moves northeast to the Great Lakes. This alone would be a big snow maker for those on the cold side of the system and a severe weather threat for those on the warm side. I’ll have details on all of the specifics later.

Then, things get even more interesting. Cold air really begins to rush in and push south behind this system, and the pattern really begins to favor something else developing further south. Now, this is just an observation on my end, but this could get very interesting if we were to get something to develop further south and eventually move up the East Coast. I can’t rule out the possibility of a southern branch system like this developing, and it would probably happen right around Thanksgiving. Maybe I should start talking about the Thanksgiving storms, not just storm.

Remember, these are just me sharing my thoughts and not making any official forecasts. Things will change between now and then.

Your Snow Photos: 

I just wanted to share a few of your snow photos that you shared on the page today. By the way, I’ve been sharing some of your photos on Instagram, so be sure to follow Firsthand Weather on Instagram by clicking here!

Dianne Caldwell Loague sent this to us from here friend in Salem, Wisconsin.

Dianne Caldwell Loague sent this to us from her friend in Salem, Wisconsin.

This is from Christine Wooledge- Myhre in Chaska, Minnesota.

This is from Christine Wooledge- Myhre in Chaska, Minnesota.

16 inches of snow on the ground in McKean, PA outside of Erie. Photo sent in by Steve Joseph Danylko.

16 inches of snow on the ground in McKean, PA outside of Erie. Photo sent in by Steve Joseph Danylko.

This was at the Philly City Hall shared by Kevin Kilmartin.

This was at the Philly City Hall shared by Kevin Kilmartin.

Another Arctic Outbreak This Week With A Winter Storm

500 mb Geopotential Height and Anomaly Map for Monday Night

As I have stated so many times before, those who forecast the weather rely way too heavily on forecast models. The problem with doing that is that your forecast is only as good as what the forecast models are predicting. In my opinion, that’s not a true forecast at all. Most people could learn to interpret some NWP model projections with time, but that’s not the coveted skill to have. The real skill that takes years to gain is being able to understand why a model makes sense or not, and then being able to use that experience to explain in simple terms why or why not it’s a viable solution. Forecast models are great when honing in on storm systems and predicting the overall pattern in the short-range, but you CAN’T rely on models at all in the long-range. Especially this time of year, you’re going to be flipping with the models every few days, maybe every few hours.

It’s best to look at what’s going on now and then make some rough predictions for 2-3 weeks down the road. Those predictions won’t be perfect, but they will be much better than relying 110% on forecast models that are prone to large errors. It’s easy to go from model run to model run because a forecaster can just blame model error when his or her forecasts bust. I would much rather have a forecast bust because I missed a tiny or even large variable early on than to have to change the forecast dozens of times. It gives me plenty of time to correct the forecast, and then I learn something new every time. That’s why I’ve been able to discuss a potential storm around Thanksgiving well before everyone else, and still many haven’t caught on to this potential yet. Things can always change with the Thanksgiving threat, but I hope you understand my point. It’s never good to model hug!

What To Expect With This Next Arctic Outbreak:

We’ve been talking about next week’s Arctic blast for a while now, and in this article, I just want to give some specifics and somewhat of a timeline. I’ll wait to talk about the Thanksgiving threat in another article and will focus on the storm system that will be moving through the U.S. today, tonight and early this week.

Below is a 500 mb Geopotential height and Anomaly map for Monday night, and what this basically shows you is a long-wave trough located over the eastern two-thirds of the United States, and a very amplified ridge over the West Coast and up over Alaska. When you have proper blocking like this is place, cold air can get displaced over certain regions in the United States, while others regions warm up. That’s why you’ve been hearing about places like Dallas, TX being colder than certain places in Alaska. Those of you living up in Alaska can vouch for me when I say that it has been much warmer up there than average for this time of year. We still have a negative Arctic Oscillation, which basically means we currently have blocking over the Arctic. Without getting into anymore detail than that, the jet stream has become particularly active over the United States as of late.

500 mb Geopotential Height and Anomaly Map for Monday Night

500 mb Geopotential Height and Anomaly Map for Monday Night

One last thing that I want to note is that the overall pattern this week looks very similar to what occurred in January that brought brutally cold air to a large region of the United States. This cold air is going to be impressive, but if we see this same thing happen this winter, then it’s going to be downright brutal. If you’ve read my winter forecast, you already know that I am predicating this to happen.

Below are the projected temperatures for Tuesday morning:

Projected Temperatures for Tuesday Morning

Projected Temperatures for Tuesday Morning

Below are the projected temperatures for Wednesday morning:

Projected Temperatures for Wednesday Morning

Projected Temperatures for Wednesday Morning

This is very unseasonably cold for this time of year, and this Arctic blast will definitely challenge or break records!

What To Expect With The Storm System Tonight and Early This Week: 

Currently, areas from the Southern Plains and northeastward are getting moderate snowfall. This is behind a frontal system that has moved through, and this snow will increase in intensity for some regions and move out of other areas later tonight. This snow band could push further south into lower Oklahoma and Texas later today. A surface low pressure system is currently developing along the Gulf Coast and will strengthen as it moves northeastward tonight and tomorrow. As expected, this will bring heavy rainfall across the Southeast and up the East Coast.

Cold air will be rushing in behind this system, so some areas that are currently getting rainfall may see a quick transition to some wet snowfall tonight and into the early morning hours. I really wouldn’t be surprised if places across Arkansas and northern Mississippi get some snow before the moisture moves out of the region. If they’re lucky, even northern Louisiana and northwestern Alabama could see a few wet snowflakes. So if you’re in these regions, you might get a taste of what is to come later this winter.

GFS Projection for Monday Morning

GFS Projection for Monday Morning

The disruptive snowfall event will occur further north across the Tennessee Valley, Ohio Valley, and inland Northeastern States. Many of you are already under winter weather advisories and winter storm warnings, and some of these advisories may have to be expanded eastward. This will be the first big snow event across these regions this season, and again, this will give you a taste of what is to come. If I need to put out an update on the site later tonight or tomorrow regarding this event, then I will.

One last thing that I want to mention is the severe weather and tornado threat expected along the Gulf coast states today and tonight. The airmass over that region is pretty unstable and could support the development of a few storms capable of producing a tornado or two. The tornado threat will shift further east along the Gulf coast states tomorrow.

What’s Next: 

I will eventually be putting out an article on the Thanksgiving storm threat once I have more details. Be sure to like the Facebook page for future updates and articles. I also update Twitter quite often, so be sure to follow Firsthand Weather on there also!

Omega Block and Wintry Weather Chances

GFS Parallel Projection for early Tuesday morning.

Our preview of what is to come this winter has already arrived, and extremely cold, Arctic air continues to move east. What’s remarkable is that most of the nation is currently or about to experience well-below average temperatures, and these cold temperatures are here to stay for most, if not all, of November. I’ve noticed on some of the model guidance that temperatures try to warm up along parts of the East Coast and Florida later in the month, but any warm-up will be very temporary given the pattern that we are locked into. This first push of Arctic air that is currently sweeping across the nation is the first of many Arctic blasts that will occur this month. This colder pattern is not due entirely to the polar vortex but is instead due to what is referred to as an omega block. This omega block signature occurs when there is a low-high-low pattern in the upper levels of the atmosphere. In this particular case, a huge ridge has pumped up over Alaska giving them unseasonably warm temperatures while troughing surrounds this ridge on both sides. A deep trough in currently located over the United States, and these kind of setups can stay around for weeks. I explained in my previous article why all of this has occurred.

Wintry Weather Possible Next Week? 

Things get interesting with the possibility of a winter event across a portion of the United States this weekend and early next week. I’m still trying to iron out all of the details, and the forecast gets particularly tricky for the more southern regions of the U.S. Remember, we’re just approaching the middle of November, and the fact that we’re talking snow/ice this early in the year is remarkable. There is a disturbance that is predicted to move across the Southern Plains by the end of this weekend, and a surface low could potentially develop along the southern Gulf coast states by late weekend/early next week. Given the cold air mass in place, it is possible that areas across the Southern Plains could get a round a wintry precipitation including locations like Dallas. As the surface low develops along the Gulf, there is a chance that there could be some snowfall across places like northern Mississippi, northern Alabama, northern Georgia, parts of Tennessee, and up the Appalachians. Maybe even places like northern Louisiana and southern Arkansas could get on the wintry side of things also.

GFS Parallel Projection for Monday afternoon.

GFS Parallel Projection for Monday afternoon.

GFS Parallel Projection for Monday night.

GFS Parallel Projection for Monday night.

GFS Parallel Projection for early Tuesday morning.

GFS Parallel Projection for early Tuesday morning.

I’m not ready to call for a big winter event just yet, and I will admit that I have several uncertainties. The low pressure that is predicted to develop along the Gulf coast is the typical track for southern winter events. It’s just so early in the season, which makes me skeptical, although the cold air that is diving south is nothing short of remarkable. The European model is less aggressive with snowfall totals than the new parallel GFS model is, and even though this new GFS model is a major upgrade from the older GFS, I almost always rely more heavily on the European model. If what the new parallel GFS is predicting comes to fruition, many of you across the South will be borderline on whether you just get a cold rain or wintry precip. Some may get both.

Give me a day or two to keep an eye on the latest trends, and I’ll put out an extensive article on this potential system if it starts to catch my attention more.

Thanksgiving Winter Storm: 

I am becoming more convinced that there is going to be a big storm system move across the United States around Thanksgiving. Nailing down the specific dates is difficult at this time, but this event looks to occur at or just before Thanksgiving. The pattern will likely favor a very suitable setup for the potential of a big event that could bring wintry weather and severe weather. Of course, the severe weather would occur in the warm-sector of the system, and the heavy snows and ice would occur in the cold sector. The big wildcards at this point are 1) the amount of cold air in place, 2) the exact track of this potential system, and 3) the overall pattern over the United States. As I’ve mentioned several times, model guidance has started to pick up on a split flow pattern over the United States around this timeframe, where you have a polar jet stream across the north and a sub-tropical jet stream further south. Many times, these two jets can interact to provide ripe conditions for a fairly large storm to develop. I’ve noticed that some model guidance has started to pick up on potential storminess over California, which could be signifying the possible development of a more active sub-tropical jet stream.

This is something that I will continue to keep an eye on and keep you updated on. There’s a lot going on, and we have a while before we get to Thanksgiving. We have plenty to watch before then, but I will continue to mention the possibility until I become convinced otherwise.

Follow Firsthand Weather On Facebook:

For all of the new readers, be sure to like Firsthand Weather on Facebook. That’s where I typically write daily updates, and then I put my bigger updates on this website. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter that will start back up this winter. Spots are limited!

Arctic Blast Coming Next Week

Probability of Below Average Temps in 6 to 10 Days

I’m going to keep tonight’s article fairly brief, but I wanted to take some time to talk about the coming cold next week and discuss some observations that I have made over the last few days. The pattern that we have setting up for next week looks eerily similar to what we saw back in January that brought brutal cold from the Great Lakes and Northeast down to the southern states. And let me just warn you, polar vortex will probably be brought into the spotlight once again. Just remember, the polar vortex was there way before the media ever became aware of it.

As I’ve mentioned on this site before, when you get blocking over the Arctic, cold air gets displaced over the mid-latitudes. We saw that happen last winter and during the summer, and we’ll see it happen again in a major way this winter. Last winter, the cold air was generally displaced over the central and eastern United States, while everywhere else was quite warm around the globe. We’re already seeing this pattern set back in, and you can see it clear as day showing up on the models. Despite some cooling in the central Pacific due to storminess, there still is a warm pool over the northeastern Pacific, which ended up being responsible for the brutal 2013-14 winter in the United States.

I have to be careful not to get too hung up on how the November pattern is setting up because what happens in November may not necessarily happen in December and beyond. But as I’ve explained since July, we are much more likely to have a winter similar to last year’s (possibly even colder in some places), and I’ve explained my reasoning in my earlier predictions.

Probability of Below Average Temps in 6 to 10 Days

Probability of Below Average Temps in 6 to 10 Days

There’s one last thing that I want to mention before I briefly discuss the Arctic cold coming next week. I’ve already noticed where models are trying to develop ridging up across the western U.S. and up over Alaska. The jet stream even has a split flow look to it in the longer range, meaning there is a distinct sub-tropical jet stream across the South and a polar jet stream to the North. This is pretty common during El Nino winters, but in many cases, the polar jet stays further north bottling the cold air up over Canada and the Arctic and keeping it out of the states. In the case of this upcoming winter, you’re going to have a polar jet that brings brutal air into the central and eastern United States, while interacting with a very active sub-tropical jet stream across the South and up the East Coast. When you have this happen along with the very warm sea surface temperatures off the East Coast, you’d better watch out for a very snowy winter across those regions. That’s why I’m so bullish on the part of my forecast that is calling for copious amounts of snow for parts of the Southern Plains, Southeast and up the East Coast.

Now the cold that is coming next week could even be worse that what we experienced earlier this month for some areas. Like I mentioned, this pattern is very reminiscent of what happened back this past winter with very cold air over the Great Lakes and then eventually spreading southward all the way down to the Southern Plains to the Southeast and on up the East Coast. Places in the upper Midwest and near the Great Lakes may get their first big winter storm of the season next week, and I’ll have more on that in the coming days.

Next week’s cold will eventually overspread a large area of the United States by the middle to end of next week. The pattern looks very “blocky” over the Arctic, so this cold is not going anywhere fast once it gets here. Yes, there will still be swings in temperatures throughout the month, but looking at the overall big picture, we have a chance at several Arctic blasts this month.

GFS Projected Temperatures for the End of Next Week

GFS Projected Temperatures for the End of Next Week

There’s one last thing I want to make note of that you’ll probably hear a lot about over the next few days. The typhoon over the western Pacific will eventually transition into an extratropical cyclone and may become strong enough to break a world record as it deepens over the Bering Sea. There’s just so much to watch!

You may have not understood all of everything that was discussed in this article, but that was the meteorologist in me coming out. We’re entering into a period that could be a phenomenal window for meteorologists and weather forecasters like myself to learn A LOT! This winter could be the winter that I have been waiting for since I was a kid. But always remember, one small variable can throw the entire forecast off.

That’s all I have for you tonight. Be sure to subscribe to my newsletter if you haven’t already by clicking here. I have a few more slots available. Be sure to like Firsthand Weather on Facebook to get my daily updates.

Firsthand Weather’s Final 2014-15 Winter Forecast

Final 2014-15 Winter Forecast - Firsthand Weather

We have finally arrived at the best time of the year! I am beyond thrilled that you have decided to check out this final winter forecast, and my goal is to prepare you for what is to come. There are a lot of variables at play that could influence this upcoming winter, and while I have consistently been predicting another brutal winter across a large portion of the United States since July, putting this forecast together has been a challenge. One must understand that missing one tiny variable can throw off an entire forecast, and given that the ocean/atmosphere connection is so complex, accurately predicting the winter is difficult for even the most experienced weather forecasters.

I have laid out this year’s final winter forecast a little differently than I have in the past. I am going to be giving you a brief overview of what is currently taking place, which will lead me into discussing how that will affect this winter. I will be providing you with three maps: a temperature map, a precipitation map, and the overall winter forecast. This forecast is specifically for a 3-month period ranging from December 1st to February 28th, which is the meteorological winter. In addition to this final winter forecast, I will be providing you with a monthly outlook for each month of the meteorological winter that will be released two weeks before each month begins. For example, my monthly forecast for December will be coming out in mid-November. The reason that I’ll be doing this is because I want you to have a clear picture as to what to expect for each individual month. Winter forecasts are great, but there is a lot that can happen within a 3-month period that is difficult to fully represent in one big forecast.


The 2014-15 U.S. winter is shaping up to be another brutal winter with heavy snows and bitter cold for the central and eastern United States. I don’t like saying that this winter will be a repeat of last winter because we have some other variables at play, but in a lot of ways, there could be many similarities.

The warm pool that is over the northern Pacific is still there although it is not nearly as warm as it was earlier this year. That is likely due to an increase in storminess over that region, but I am not overly concerned about that impacting the overall forecast in the states. Warm waters still persist from the northeastern Pacific all the way down the West Coast of the U.S. The northern central Pacific has experienced some cooling, and cooler than average water temperatures are very evident in and around Japan. All of this can favor a colder than average winter in the eastern United States with an increase in storminess. The reason that I mentioned this first is that there has been a much higher focus on the northern Pacific this year because of how it was a main driver of the last U.S. winter. It will once again play a role, but I do not foresee that being the only main driver.

We still do not have an El Nino in place, but latest model guidance still suggests that we will at least be moving into a weak to low-end moderate El Nino by the time we’re full-swing into winter. I am still leaning towards there being a weak El Nino with the focus of higher sea surface temperatures being over the central equatorial Pacific. Because I am expecting this El Nino to stay on the weaker end and the area of highest sea surface temperatures to be over the central equatorial Pacific, this will influence the winter in a much different way than a traditional El Nino winter setup. El Nino will be a driver this winter, but it will not be the only driver. I do expect a very active subtropical jet this winter which will bring heavy rains and mountains snows to California, and an overall increase in storminess over the southern states and up the East Coast. With the colder winter that I am expecting in the eastern United States, you can expect numerous East Coast winter storms this season.

During October, there was a rapid increase in snow cover over Siberia. A rapid increase in snow cover in October over Siberia can prompt a negative Arctic Oscillation winter. When the Arctic oscillation is in its negative phase, brutally cold air is often displaced and pushed over the central and eastern United States, and the storm track is typically much further south. With the active subtropical jet likely setting up across the South due to El Nino and the polar jet stream likely being pushing further south into the eastern United States due to a negative AO, I expect this to be an active and stormy winter for those regions. I have mentioned since July that I thought places that typically do not get snow and ice will be getting it this winter, and I have not changed my mind on that.

There were numerous other factors that I considered when putting together this winter forecast, but in order to keep this forecast reasonably short, I am not going to go into much detail on that. Later this month, I plan on putting out a winter forecast geared more towards the meteorological and scientific community.

Firsthand Weather’s Final 2014-15 Winter Forecast (each region is numbered):

Final 2014-15 Winter Forecast - Firsthand Weather

Final 2014-15 Winter Forecast – Firsthand Weather

Temperature Map:

2014-15 Winter Temperature Map - Firsthand Weather

2014-15 Winter Temperature Map – Firsthand Weather

Precipitation Map: 

2014-15 Winter Precipitation Map - Firsthand Weather

2014-15 Winter Precipitation Map – Firsthand Weather

Region-By-Region Breakdown:

Region 1: Over the last several weeks, the Pacific Northwest has received copious amounts of rainfall, and while the rainy trend may continue for several more weeks, this area should eventually dry out. With the warmer sea surface temperatures still just off the coast, I expect ridging to eventually develop over this region, and overall, bring a warmer and drier than average winter season. Depending on how quickly that ridge begins to build will determine how quickly everything starts to dry out.

Region 2: This region will generally be warmer than average. Most of the Rockies will likely have average to below average snowfall because of the ridging that will likely build over this area. The more southern regions will be the most likely areas to receive some decent precipitation, while the more northern regions will be drier. Since I am expecting an active sub-tropical ridge further south, this should increase rainfall/snowfall amounts across the southern areas.

Region 3: This winter for California is looking good! Over this region, I expect conditions to be very wet especially as we move further into winter. Heavy precipitation throughout the winter could bring overall temperatures down, which is why I put this region in only a slightly above average temperature zone. I decided to extend the above average precipitation zone over all of California since latest trends seem to favor more precipitation further north. While this forecast sounds promising for California, too much rain and snowfall isn’t necessarily a good thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if mudslides became more common over the region this winter.

Region 4: This is the region that could vary throughout the winter. With the expected warmer than average temps out West and colder than average temps out East, you typically have an “in-between” zone like this where the overall outcome of the winter could really go either way. In my temperature map, I put parts of the southern regions in the below-averge zone and some of the northern areas in the above-average zone. That’s mainly because the more southern regions could be wetter, which would likely bring overall temperatures down.

Region 5: I expect another brutal winter across this region with decent snowfall. Last year, this particular region experienced a brutally cold winter with high amounts of snowfall. This region was hit hard because of the weakening of the polar vortex that displaced bitterly cold air over this area. Because I expect the polar jet stream to dive deep into the United States this winter, this would be an area that would likely experience the brunt of the cold. Typically, El Nino winters favor temperatures to be warmer than average over this region, but given that this will be a weak and Modoki-style El Nino setup, I expect the overall pattern to favor colder temperatures. Places like Chicago should expect some big snowfalls throughout the winter.

Region 6: This region will be another area that has to deal with another cold winter similar to last year. Residents in this region should expect frequent blasts of cold air and will also receive decent amounts of snowfall. Eastern parts of this zone may be in a wetter pattern more so than the western zone, but I do expect even the western regions to get decent snowfall throughout the winter.

Region 7: This region can expect frequent Arctic outbreaks and high amounts of snowfall. This upcoming winter is shaping up to be very similar to last winter, especially in regards to the cold. Places from Ohio on up to the Northeast need to brace for what could be a very costly and nasty winter and could result in prolonged periods of brutal cold and snow.

Region 8: This region is the area that I am most concerned about for this upcoming winter. We have a situation where the pattern is going to favor a lot of precipitation due to El Nino and a very cold pattern due to warmer waters in the northeastern Pacific and much higher than average Siberian snow cover, which will likely be responsible for a negative Arctic Oscillation. If all of this comes together, this region could have a winter that they have not experienced in decades. I put most of this region in much-below average temperatures and much-above average precipitation. Places that typically do not get snow and ice will get it, and places that typically only get small amounts of wintry precipitation will get a lot. I expect a very active and wet pattern across the southern states, and I expect the polar jet and the southern jet to interact in a way that could bring about a “snowmageddon” kind of winter along the East Coast. I expect numerous East Coast and Southeast winter storms. Places even as far west as the Southern Plains including Dallas will also likely be hit hard.

Region 9: This region will also experience much below-average temperatures and very wet conditions. Given the expected cold over this region, there could definitely be several winter events along the southern Gulf coast states, which could also include the panhandle of Florida. Florida will likely be wet the entire winter and can expect records to either challenge or break during the coldest periods of the winter. This region could also likely experience a winter that they have not experienced in several decades.

Region 10: Although it is not included on my map, I did want to briefly mention Alaska. I expect ridging to eventually begin building over Alaska, which will bring the state above-average temperatures. Forecast models actually are starting to pick up on a ridge developing over most of the state, and while it may take several weeks, I do expect this eventually to happen.


This winter could be another winter similar to the last. But, there are some distinct differences between the winter last year, and what my winter forecast is showing for this upcoming winter. Although this is my “final” winter forecast, I will be posting updates on this winter continuously, and like I stated above, I will be posting monthly outlooks this year.

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I hope that you enjoyed this breakdown of the final 2014-15 winter forecast. If there is anything that you felt was not clearly explained in this forecast, please let me know in the comments so I can correct it! To read my early winter forecast that was released in July, click here.