Winter Storm Outlook


Threat Level: Low
Period: Jan 27th-28th
updated 1/21

Thursday, December 31, 2015

Exciting Times Ahead

Enjoy your New Years Eve everyone. The weather should not disappoint in this new year for winter lovers. The pattern change now looks locked in. My first target period for potential mischief is 2nd week of January.

I will discuss this and much more tomorrow morning.


Monday, December 28, 2015

Mondays Weather Discussion: Winter Storm on Tap for New England Tonight

Good morning, looks like everything is on track for the first winter storm of the season. I am keeping my map from Saturday morning due to no major changes. Here are my updated highlights..

  • Only part of our forecast area that has a shot at freezing rain and sleet is north to NW NJ into southern NY and CT.
  • Central and South Jersey will be all rain
  • The frozen precip that does fall in Northern zones will change to all rain quick by daybreak 
  • For elevations over 700ft temps will stay below freezing longer so be careful of frozen surfaces 
  • Ski country I'm VT,NH,ME does decent with 4 to 8 inches of front end snow before changeover to sleet by mid morning Tuesday
Here is my map..

National weather service does have advisories up for northern zones..

This all is over by tomorrow afternoon with rain.

So let's move on to discussing the big pattern change coming our way. To review, here was my original thesis on this:

  • Mild December would give way to colder January and February. February will be banner month.
  • This was due to projected stratospheric warming along w ocean temperature patterns per my winter outlook.
  • The el nino will only enhance the moisture on the field via the subtropical jet meaning changes for big storms as winter matures 
  • Key is a western ridge w moisture cutting underneath. If we have blocking in place via the Atlantic it's game on
So let's look at how this is evolving..

Looking above you can see updated projections on our upper air pattern in January. A large ridge of high pressure is projected to form over the west into AK. This is huge as it could mean we have arctic air directly injected into the United states! Notice also we have all the blue underneath. This is an active storm track due to the el nino keeping the sub tropical jet very alive. Now don't get too excited yet about big storms. We still need to see ridging or high pressure form near Greenland which will take some more time. However this initial pattern can feature more clipper like systems meaning the chance of light snowfalls first 2 weeks of Jan. 

Now let's also see how our stratosphere is evolving. Warming has already started at some levels and all indications are it will continue and put big pressure on our polar vortex. This is huge as I always said we needed to see this happen below..

Notice how elongated it is and pushed off the pole. This will have drastic impacts as January progresses. The net effect of this stratospheric warming is a negative Arctic Oscillation which means high pressure at the pole which unlocks all cold air. Check out the projections on this below. Very impressive and would have HUGE implications on cold in the United States. Opposite pattern of what we have had from Nov-Dec that caused the warmth!

Here is an estimate of temperatures next 16 days. I expect temps can end up being lower than what's shown at the end of this period..

So overall I love what I am seeing. It makes me confident in the forecast I laid out in October. I think we are in for a lot of fun this winter. Remember I still think the big storms are a few weeks away but until then we will all enjoy the transition of this season. Or at least I know I will. 

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Sunday Morning Weather Update

Models are finally starting to converge on a scenario for Tuesday in the Northeast. I am not going to change my map because I think it has the overall right idea. This is it below..

Here is the bottom line:
  • Anywhere south of MA, this is nothing to write home about.
    • some front end snow sleet maybe in light green area quickly changing to rain Tuesday morning. 
  • Up in VT, I expect an initial heavy thump of snow early Tuesday morning changing to sleet by mid morning.
    • Northern VT,NH and Maine have the best shot at the most snow represented by the dark blue area.
    • The initial thump should bring several inches to ski areas 
  • This all clears out by end of the day Tuesday and earlier in tri-state area
  • Overall it will be nice for ski areas to add to their base but unless your going to Jay Peak not worth the trip

Now I will do a bigger breakdown of the overall weather pattern tomorrow but I am extremely confident that this pattern change is coming and coming in hard. Starting around the New Year a lot of folks are going to be scratching their head wondering where it all came from. Not Weatherwilly's followers however ;-)

I did a lot of analysis on this pattern change over the last 2 weeks you can find in my old posts. I will update that tomorrow. 

Fun times ahead, stay tuned! 

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Preliminary Impact Map for Tuesday's Winter Storm

Good morning everyone. Hope everyone had a nice Christmas. Lets turn our focus to the approaching storm system I have been discussing for Tuesday. Below is my preliminary impact map for this system.

I will finalize this tomorrow night but this is my going forecast at this time. There are differences between the GFS and European models with this system.  European is slower and allows the cold air to leave ahead of the storm. The GFS has been very consistent in keeping the cold air around for longer with a faster approaching storm system. I looked at both models and came up with my prediction above. Do not get too caught up in model projected snow maps for this storm. A lot of the snow they show is actually sleet. An example is below..

The model counts sleet as snow especially in black circled area. Just because of the equation used. It might be below freezing at 5000ft to surface but there a warm layer that gets filtered in that causes sleet. 

For  ski country, I think Killington northward has a decent shot at some respectable accumulating snow. Southern VT looks to be caught in the sleet and freezing rain with some initial front end snow. From central VT northward I think 5-8" of mostly snow is a good bet at this time.

NNJ into CT some ice to start but a quick change to rain. I do not expect a high impact from this storm system. 

In the wake of this system our pattern change looks excellent! Very cold air will start to bleed into the eastern 1/3 around the New Year and looks to stay locked in for the 1st two weeks of Jan. We will have to keep our eye on developing storm systems for this time frame. More on this as the days go on.

Again, I will finalize the impact map tomorrow night or Monday morning. Skiers out there stay tuned!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas! Winter Storm Effects Northeast Tuesday

Merry Christmas everyone! Hope everyone enjoys the days with their families. For winter weather lovers in the Northeast your Christmas gift this year is a big pattern change heading into next week. Our first round of winter weather comes Tuesday for New England. I discussed this threat yesterday and based on latest information my thoughts have not changed. Here are the main points:

  • Winter storm effects the region on Monday night through Tuesday
  • This threat is primary focused on New England (VT,NH,MA,ME). North Jersey into CT I expect initial round of wintry mix of snow/ice but a change to rain
  • Ski country makes out excellent with this storm system
  • Corridor between mostly snow and a mix looks to be I-90 (Mass Pike)
  • Overall big pattern change in the wake of this system.

I will release an initial threat map either tonight or tomorrow for this storm. I will also start to hone in on the finer details with how much wintry precipitation can fall before the changeover to rain in the NYC metro area.  

You can read my post from yesterday below.

Enjoy the day everyone and thank you for all for following over the last year!

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas Eve 2015: Don't Let Today Fool You

Merry Christmas everyone! I will keep things short and sweet today. I continue to love what I am seeing in terms of winter arriving with a bang as we head into January. Considering it is going to be in the 70's today and pretty mild through the rest of the week I suggest you enjoy it while you can! Old Man Winter is due in middle of next week!

Yes folks that is a snow map and it is valid for Wednesday of next week! Now before everyone gets excited I am NOT convinced of snow in NJ, PA or even CT at this time. However, I think we are staring at a New England ski country special right in the face! Other areas can see ICE with this possibly bleeding into NNJ, we will have to study the model trends next 48 hrs. This is not a fantasy as the pattern supports this. Let me explain..

Looking above I provided a diagram to explain the set up ahead of this storm system next week. On the top left you see the surface map. Notice the low pressure center is cutting to our west. However, it initially is going to be cold enough to snow up in New England and yes possibly in NNJ as indicated by the top right image blue colors. 

This cold air is the result of a very storm area of high pressure over Quebec. You might not be able to tell but on the bottom right that is a massive 1041MB HP system funneling in legitimate cold air. This high pressure at the surface forms due to something called confluence or air coming together at the upper levels of the atmosphere. I indicated that on the bottom left image. 

The HP system should start to slide east however allowing warm air to filter into this storm for all areas south of the I-90 (Mass Pike) corridor which would mean a quick shot of snow for areas in northern CT into Mass changing to ice or rain. 

When it is all said and done ski country could be looking at 6-10 inches maybe a little more with this system on Wednesday!

So why am I not convinced this is going to be a bigger snowfall further south? In simple terms the set up is not perfect. Yes we have an impressive HP system but it should be allowed to slide to the east due to no true vortex over eastern Canada locking it in. The slower this system is the more of the chance it has to trend warmer. We need to wait a few days to watch this evolution.  For those of you who want a glimmer of hope my friend the Canadian model insists that this HP does not slide east as fast. The result is this..

Again not my base case at this time. But I am showing this as what one of the outlier scenarios could be.  Phili or NYC it would shock me if you saw an accumulating snowfall next week. At this time I am going with the New England scenario due to the upper air set up. NNJ we have the shot at some initial winter precip but a turn to rain. 

Oh and by the way for anyone who watched my video the other night, the long term models still looking fantastic for our pattern change...

If any one missed it, you can watch it in my previous post. Let the fun begin. 

Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Tuesday Night Video Update: I Like What I See!

Video below discusses in more detail how this weather pattern will evolve into January and how it relates to my original winter forecast. Enjoy!

*In the video I use a 5 day average of the GFS ensemble. By mistake the European ensemble is is used half the time but it makes the same point.*

The Bottom Line:

  • A weather pattern change is coming for last few days of December into January
  • This means the warm weather we have been experiencing comes to an end.
  • This evolution is supported by my Winter Outlook 2016
  • Snow will start to fall in the Northeast especially in Ski Country late this month
  • As January progresses the Mid-Atlantic gets into the mix too with February being the banner month for cold and snow. 

Video Update Tonight

I will cover details behind the evolving weather pattern for those of you who are interesting in the finer details. Prob will be live sometime between 7-8.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Monday Morning Weather Discussion: The Evolution Has Started, Pattern Change Coming

Good morning everyone. The million dollar question going into January was and is will winter ever arrive? I talked about how per my Winter Outlook I expected a slow start in December with warmer than normal conditions, but not this warm! In my posts last week I discussed the stratosphere and how we needed to see the polar vortex break down in order to allow cold air to funnel into the United States. The 1st two weeks of January will tell the tale on winter.Now is the time to see are these models finally starting to move towards the pattern I expect. 

Lets remember based on the current ocean temperature set up, and many other factors I was expecting a jet stream configuration like this for the winter..

So far this has not been the pattern. We have currently had a pattern similar to whats below with all the cold air out west..

If my winter forecast is correct we need to start to evolve to a pattern like this below in January..

So what to the models say? Well I have been following the trends closely last few days and they are very consistent in showing this projected pattern below develop by the time we get to say around New Years..

This would be huge  guys. Notice the red over the west coast and blue on the east. This represents a western ridge of high pressure and an eastern trough of low pressure the exact OPPOSITE of our current pattern. This set up is very similar to my January forecast. The more red or high pressure you get that builds on the West Coast up into Canada, the more cold air that is allowed to funnel into the East. Think of the jet stream like a barrier between air masses. Also, notice the blue or trough of low pressure developing south of the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Another huge factor we need to see!

Bottom line is this: The seasonal response of the jet stream based on all the factors I used to make my winter outlook is finally starting to show on the long term models. If this continues and verifies for January and especially February this winter is just getting started!

Before we get there, we have a very mild week ahead with rain on tap. Temperatures are going to rise into the high 60s by Christmas Eve! Expect rain to develop tomorrow and also Wednesday night into Christmas Eve morning. Christmas day looks to be clear with highs in the high 50's to low 60's. We do not start to see this pattern change until we get closer to New Years weekend. 

Thanks for checking in, more to come. 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Morning: Away for the Weekend

No posts till Sunday night. At this point we need to just set back and see how this pattern develops into Jan vs my expectations. I will focus on Xmas week and give an update on some of the main factors I have been evaluating on Sunday night.

Enjoy the more seasonable weather this weekend. Could see a snow flurry or two!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Wednesday Morning Ramblings

Good morning. This morning I wanted to take another look at the period heading up to Christmas. With the exception of this weekend into early next week, this period will be categorized by mostly warmer than normal temps. What else is new right? Now, for those of you who might be sitting there calling me crazy for still maintaining my winter forecast despite this ridiculous warmth, I understand. However, remember it still is only December 16th and it can snow through March. With that being said if some of the factors I am looking at do not materialize by say 2nd week of January then I will call it quits.

When it comes to weather prediction you try your best to not let emotion play too much of a role in what is actually happening vs what you want to see happen. For example, yes this December has been much warmer than record. I was expecting a warm December BUT not this warm, no one was. Does that throw a wrench in the winter forecast? At this time no it does not. Remember it is about the evolution and what will CAUSE that evolution.

So before we review the evolution lets turn to this weekend. The storm system I was mentioning over the last week will develop and effect our area with Rain on Friday...

For interior areas of NY and VT/NH some snow will fall with this. Below is the projected accumulations
Nothing to write home about but hey in this pattern you gotta take what you can get. So what I got right was a more compact storm and not just an offshore low pressure wave like models where showing earlier. I did however think that the interior Mountain areas would do better than an inch or two if this formed. We still have 2 days to see if any more cold air gets wrapped in. Regardless, I hope you guys saw my point in how models evolved from say 10 days out to now and the difference that makes in where a storm forms.

In wake of this, the cold air moves in from Sat through Monday. You can see below the dip in temps to more seasonable, yes I said seasonable which is in the high 30's low 40's this time of year. Notice how then the rise starts again heading up to Christmas. Its nuts to see 69 degrees on Christmas eve! and 62 Xmas Day!

This is the pattern that will cause that big warm up..

All due to this massively positive Arctic Oscillation (low pressure at poles, strong polar vortex)...

In fact check out current temps in the stratosphere over the pole. In record low territory basically..

This is the biggest factor that is influencing our warmer than normal Florida like weather pattern. Now this is the key- we need a big reversal to occur here in the form of stratospheric warming. If that does occur and the polar vortex breaks up then Winter is back on the table. I have been showing you guys the projections on this and they have not changed. Below is the latest temperature chart way up there 168 hrs out..

 You can see this vortex will come under attack by warm air. The question in will it be enough to officially break it down. Time will tell. This is the reason why I am still holding on to my Winter forecast. I would expect to see this occur and it is. If this fully evolves then 2.5-3 weeks later we should see an effect on the Arctic Oscillation going negative thus a pattern change by say 2nd week of January.

Bottom line: As bad or as warm as the weather pattern is right now for snow, the seeds for colder weather in January are showing signs of sprouting. If come 1st week of January and these signs go away then this all could be over. I am not ready or expecting to make that call. Time will tell.

Thanks for reading. 

Monday, December 14, 2015

Monday Morning Weather Update: Still Eyeing the Friday and Updated Pattern Evolution

Good morning, hope everyone had a good weekend. I want to revisit some of my points from last week which were:

  • We need to keep our eye on Friday the 19th for a possible storm system to develop due to the overall pattern. This would be only a wintry threat for interior areas.
  • Regardless if this storm materializes our first true winter air arrives this weekend. Temps will only get into the mid 30's and low 40's for many spots Friday through Monday!
  • The pattern is starting to show signs of change (stratosphere) but it still would likely be January before we see the full evolution. 

Starting off with my storm speculation for Friday. Over the weekend the models did make more of a supportive evolution towards this idea, including the latest run of the European. Still not ready to pull the trigger on this but I like the trends for at least a shot at some accumulating snow for Ski Country. 

Remember how I showed an image like this below of upper air energy and why the European was not showing a storm last week...

Basically the upper level energy was too spread out as I indicated again above. Fast forward to the run from last night and you now have this valid for the same time..

I cannot show the higher resolution version of the European but the point is consistent. The more consolidation of upper air energy you have the bigger shot at a storm that is closer to the coast. Moving down to the surface we now have this on the European..

Nice area of low pressure that develops which would give interior New England especially Ski areas the shot at a few inches of snow. I can probably show this point better with an image of the GFS upper level energy. I put this next image up on twitter yesterday. It shows the difference between Saturday and Sunday's run of the gfs model. Notice the new run on the right has more interaction of energy..

Thats really how this works guys. Its all about how energy interacts at 18k feet and its effect on the surface. That is why pattern recognition is so important. If you can identify a pattern that can support a storm then you start to look for trends like you see above. This is the latest surface on the GFS..

More of a wet scenario here for all areas, but regardless a storm is in play.

Bottom line: The jury is still out but the shot at a coastal storm for Friday is still very much on the table. This would mainly be a rain threat for most areas except interior New England. We will be able to nail this down within next 48 hrs. 

Moving on to our warm weather pattern. I never thought on December 12th Id be playing tennis and golf but that is what the past weekend had in store. In fact, even these popped up in my yard..

Mother nature is obviously confused about this pattern as well. So moving on to the bigger picture. You can see our shot of arctic air this weekend..

This only lasts through Monday then we return to our warmer than normal pattern. Based on my winter forecast, I am expecting a pattern change by January. This is only going to happen if we are able to break down the cause for this abnormally warm weather- a very storm polar vortex. I have mentioned that the only way to change that is by seeing warm air invade the stratosphere. Trends are still alive that show this occurring. The next image shows the difference between the current conditions at 10mb (way up in the stratosphere) and projected conditions.

Notice the heating that is occurring near Asia on the right image and how the polar vortex is getting stressed out because of this. THIS IS KEY. If this verifies, and the trends now are still insisting it will, I am confident we will get our pattern change. A weak polar vortex allows shots of arctic air to leave the pole and bleed into North America.

Until then, we will still be in a weather pattern that is overall warmer than normal through at least Xmas with the occasional shot of arctic air. Winter is not over, be patient. 

Thanks for reading, more to come. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

Friday Morning Weather Update: My Storm is On Some Models, But Long Way Off Still

Good morning everyone. This post will focus on my target period of the 16th though the 24th. In particular we will look at the weekend of the 19th. I have talked about the overall set up in the weather pattern over my last several posts. In summary, I am not expecting a full pattern change until we get to January (based on observations and my winter forecast) but I mentioned how there are signs we can see a period of action before then. Mainly this could be in the Midwest into Interior New England.  A big reason why was the projected set up of the jet stream for that period...

The map above shows the overall idea for the target period. We have high pressure forming over Gulf of Alaska. That presses cold air into the country. We also have some blocking develop just south of Greenland. This also helps trap the jet underneath, especially the cold air that the Alaskan high pressure system is seeding. The idea is that there is a chance we can get this energy consolidated enough that a storm can form on the cold and warm air boundary by the weekend of the 19th. 

It is still mostly speculation due to the fact we are 7+ days away but it is still worth mentioning in my opinion.  The GFS has been the model consistent model showing something trying to develop at the surface for that weekend..

This would be the overall idea of what could happen- a storm that develops along that boundary and effects interior areas with snow. Pretty much a ski country special. But we need to start seeing a lot more support from other models and their ensembles.

The European does not have a storm due to the energy I talked about staying too spread out...

This map above shows the Europeans upper air projection. notice how spread out the blue is and we can try to identify a few different centers of energy.

Compared to the GFS below which is more compact.

Thats really what it comes down to guys. The models as with any potential storm threat will need a few more days to sort it out. Remember however if this does end up developing I am expecting it to be more focused on the interior not the big cities or say even 80 miles to the west. 

I will keep an eye on this as we head through this weekend.

On another quick note the stratosphere is still showing signs it comes under stress in the longer range..

This is the main factor I am looking at to support my pattern change idea for Jan as it would weaken the polar vortex and give us the chance for more sustained shots at cold air.

This is my original January forecast from my winter outlook..

Latest NMME blended model guidance for January (came out yesterday)..

Lets see how this unfolds!

Thanks for reading. 

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Will Old Man Winter Wake Up? Breaking Down the Upcoming Pattern

 In this video I break down the weather pattern from the 16th through Christmas. We are a little too far off to make any bold statements BUT I like the trends I am seeing. Bottom line: I think areas of the Midwest up into New England need to be on the lookout for a storm system to bring  potential snow, especially around the 19th (next weekend). Further to the south is  a wild card. Things should really start to get interesting after the next 7 days. I will drill down more as the days go on. Let's see if any of my speculation becomes a reality.

Buckle up folks, many signals are starting to flash for a pattern change, especially as we get into January if not late December. 

Wednesday Morning Weather Update: Some Encouraging Signs Developing

Good morning everyone. As I continue to monitor this weather pattern I am starting to see signs up hope for winter weather lovers. Although I still do not expect a big pattern change till end of this month/early January there are some encouraging signals I am watching develop.

Going back to the stratosphere (way up in the atmosphere, higher than commercial jets), models continue to suggest the polar vortex will come under stress as heating is starting to occur...

Looking above you can see what the atmosphere looking like at the 10-hpa pressure level or in other words way high up at the upper limits of the stratosphere. This image is 168 hours out from now. The colors show the temperature around the northern hemisphere. I want you to notice the area I circled in red. This represents heating that is occurring in the stratosphere. This heating puts stress on the polar vortex and the result is it causes it to migrate off the center of its axis shown by the red X. This heating actually originates at lower altitudes in the troposphere and as it travels to the upper limits of the atmosphere, it can have a drastic effect on our weather conditions especially 3 weeks later.

I will note this is not a major warming event and we are still just looking at model projections. However, one of the reasons we have been seeing such warm weather is because the lack of high pressure or a negative Arctic Oscillation at the pole. The polar vortex under stress can change this and consequently eventually cause a pattern change for the east.  To illustrate further, here are projections on the Arctic Oscillation. Notice there are now possible negative outcomes...

So moving on to the weather models, things do stay tranquil though the weekend. Our next shot at unsettled weather comes early next week as a low pressure system should pass to our west..

It is in the wake of this storm system that things could start to get interesting from the 17th through Xmas Eve as there are signs cold are could start pressing as shown below..

IF we get everything aligned property I would not be surprised if it snows around the 19th of the month up in New England and possibly further south as a storm system could ride the boundary of warm and cold air as I indicated above. 

This is still not our main pattern change but at least we got some action on the table here! Below you can see the surface map  of warm and cold air clashing..

Sure this could develop well inland but my point is it all depends on how much this cold air presses east.  It is something that bears watching as we head towards the Xmas holiday. 

As a reminder here is what I projected for the January weather pattern back in October in my winter outlook..

Compared to December..

You can see my point that this was supposed to be a winter that slowly evolved. Now we sit back and see what verifies.

Thanks for reading.  I'll cut a video this week w more detail l.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Monday Morning Weather Discussion: We Sit and Wait

Good morning everyone. We have another warm mild week ahead as the same broken record continues to play. Expect mostly clear conditions with temps mostly in the 50's all week. Once again it will feel more like October rather than December. 

So last week I cut a video and talked about this pattern and how for the most part December was projected to be and will be a mild month. I also mentioned how I did have this in my winter forecast. However, we still need to see a pattern evolution towards our winter pattern. What I mean by that is we need to start seeing signs that this pattern could flip by late December. If we do not then I will start to get concerned.

The main factor I am looking at right now is a very strong polar vortex (polar vortex is way up in the atmosphere).

Looking above you can see a nice wound up tight vortex at the pole. That is not good for colder weather as it supports a positive phase of the Arctic Oscillation (lower pressures near pole). What we need to start seeing is this vortex come under stress. When the happens, pieces of it can break off or it becomes stretched out enough that it can have a drastic effect in the lower latitudes. A main factor that causes this is heating in the stratosphere. 

As we get to longer in the period you can see models are starting to show this vortex being a little knocked off its center..

Looking below you can see how based on the gfs model, it becomes off center and elongated. The problem is we do not know if this will verify. The models sometimes have a very hard time with accuracy regarding the conditions that high up in the atmosphere.  


So we will keep an eye on this. If we get some heating in the strasophere and the vortex does in fact start to come under stress, I will feel very good about the prospects of a pattern change. In the meantime the same pattern will be on repeat. Looking below we can see our big trough out west and ridge on the east..

This is a pattern that in the next 10 days will support storms to effect the western and central part of the country possibly with snow. We could get lucky and northern New England can see snow as well but thats not a high probability until we get past December 15th. 

Right now those areas and in particular the Midwest need to watch for a developing storm system for early next week. This could be a snowstorm if the factors align properly. 

So we sit here and continue to wait as this boring pattern continues. Although we see some weak signals that the pattern can flip I have nothing at this time to take a hard stance. I can only rely on the evolution I expected in my winter forecast which should eventually start to show itself in the coming weeks. If it does not, then I will be the first to admit. Let's not jump the gun yet however ;-).