Arctic Preview Now, Arctic Full Force Later

For the first time this winter season the Ohio Valley is seeing cold air actually make it into the region and stay for a couple of days. Then by the end of the week we warm back up and the cold air leaves. Winter just is not meant to last, right? Think again. Now with admittance I erred in December. What we are seeing now I thought was going to make a preview for the last 10 days of the month, a quick and potent cold shot, before an ease in the pattern for the beginning of January. It appears the timing was a bit off but things are starting to get back on track for what I had post January 15.

Before all of that comes we need to get through the next 10 days first. The Arctic influence that has been here since Sunday afternoon will begin to lose its grip on the region. Wednesday will begin the moderating trend after cold temperatures start the morning. Expect temperatures tomorrow morning to bottom out in the lower teens to near 20 depending on cloud cover and strength of wind with afternoon highs ranging from the lower 30s to near 40 with a mix of clouds and sun. Thursday will continue the warming with highs getting into the 40s for most areas. This is about as far out as one can get before more complications begin to affect the Ohio Valley.

A storm system gathering over the southern Gulf states on Friday will trek northeastward over the weekend. This is where the debate begins. The Global Forecasting System (GFS) has a known error to suppress systems and dump all of the energy out front and push it along too quickly; whereas, foreign models usually hold the energy back and push a storm farther north. This appears to be the scenario this weekend. Now at this point in the game, anything can happen, but with the Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation still roaming on the positive side of things a track farther west should result.

Saturday Storm System Should End Up Farther West; Courtesy of NCEP

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The map depicts the system to the east for Saturday. The error I believe the GFS is guilty of is pushing the northern piece of energy through much too fast, forcing the southern energy too stay south. What should happen is more energy in the northern branch aiding in a bit of a slower movement, in turn, allowing the southern branch to catch up with its partner to the north forcing a farther west track. So while the weekend appears dry and pleasantly cool, confidence for a dry weekend is not as high. As that time gets closer, fine tuning will be in order.

Of more potential “exciting” news is the confidence continuing to build in the camp that a stronger and sustained Arctic blast is coming for the region. People want results and I have stuck my neck out since the middle of November stating why I believed cold will come. It appears it is a state of delayed a bit, but not denied.

Arctic Oscillation Ensemble Forercast; Courtesy of NCEP

Today I decided to take the Arctic Oscillation (AO) map to show where I believe things are going. By and large the AO has been positive. The result has been mild temperatures. However, if you look at the current map it appears it wants to stay neutral or negative. In response this will push the colder air southward from the poles and lead to Arctic flow becoming established into the United States. Uncertainty still lies on where all the features will set up, but at least it is on the map and should make en roads into the central and eastern United States around January 15.

Before that date though, expect the up and down roller coaster to continue and keep an eye on the weekend storm because suspicion is forecasts will change between now and then. A lot of things are on the table, now it is time to see where things lay. So those feeling winter is a “no show” probably want to at least re-examine things because some new players are showing up to the game.

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By Weather Specialist Josh Ketchen

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