Freezing your butt in North America? Probably not a strong polar vortex!


From Top L, clockwise: Pacific Trough, Arctic High, Alaskan Ridge, Arctic LowSimon Lee

Winter weather patterns in North America are dictated by changes to the polar vortex winds high in the atmosphere, but the most significant cold snaps are more likely influenced by the tropics, scientists have found…

It is already well established that the vortex wind strength influences weather in Europe and Asia, and the study revealed it also has a strong effect on three out of the four main winter weather patterns in North America, giving forecasters an additional tool to understand potentially high-impact weather during winter.

The study, published in Geophysical Research Letters, also revealed that, unlike in Europe, the most extreme cold snaps affecting the whole of North America are not most likely to occur after a weak vortex. Instead, the shape of the vortex and conditions in the tropics were identified as stronger influences of these conditions…

(Researchers) found widespread extreme cold is more common when an area of high pressure extends up to Alaska, and the polar vortex stretches down towards North America – pushing cold Arctic air southward in the lower atmosphere.

The scientists say the influence of the stratosphere on weather patterns, as well as how this interacts with long-term weather patterns in the tropics like El Niño, should be studied further and incorporated into forecasts to improve their accuracy.

Still, awfully complex. Certainly requiring a CPU stronger than my little gray cells. But, my confidence in forecasters incorporating more into their offerings isn’t diminished. Technology keeps on rocking, capabilities continue to grow and expand.

‘Blockbuster’ snowstorm heads east. Then a polar vortex drops in!

❝ After hammering California with rain and snow, a “blockbuster” winter storm is taking aim at the East, where as much as 40 inches of snow could fall over the weekend. Road travel may become impossible in the heavy snow, and flight delays and cancellations are likely.

After the storm heads offshore Sunday, the intense cold will be the main weather story as air straight from the Arctic will roar in, bringing below-freezing temperatures to 200 million Americans…

❝ Snowfall of 12-24 inches is likely to be more common in the heaviest band from the storm, according to the AccuWeather forecast. Blowing and drifting at the height and conclusion of the storm could cause the snow depth to vary by several feet…

❝ After the storm, the coldest air of the season will roar across nearly the entire eastern half of the country by Monday: About 200 million people will wake up to below-freezing temperatures Monday morning, as far south as Florida, according to weather.us meteorologist Ryan Maue. Maue said about 85 percent of the Lower 48 states will see temperatures at or below freezing.

I admit it. The [rare] accumulation of snow and cold we’ve had here in northern New Mexico recently is a PITA – I do not miss New England winters at all.

Polar Vortex…Here it comes…Maybe

❝ Winter got off to a fast start in the Lower 48 even before it was technically winter. Waves of cold gripped the eastern two-thirds of the United States and several winter storms tracked across the region…

The polar vortex, the roaring river of air winding around the North Pole, holds the cards. What they reveal could be very disturbing and a harbinger of extreme winter weather in the Eastern United States…

❝ But when the vortex is disrupted, an ordinary winter can suddenly turn severe and memorable for an extended duration. “[It] can affect the entire winter,” Judah Cohen said…

Last week, he tweeted: “Confidence is growing in a significant #PolarVortex disruption in the coming weeks. This could be the single most important determinant of the weather this #winter across the Northern Hemisphere…”

“The longer it takes to happen, the bigger chance we have of a warmer winter,” Cohen said.

Um, OK. We’ll stay in touch.