A CATEGORY 5 WINTER STORM IN OCTOBER...WHY NOT?

October 11, 2019

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A historic fall storm with winter characteristics is creating chaos and major changes throughout the Plains and Midwest Friday. The hardest hit state will be North Dakota where snowfall forecasts are posted for up to 3 feet of snow.

Winds in some areas will exceed 60 mph creating blizzard conditions. 

Here's a sampling of one of the blizzard warnings. In this part of North Dakota more than 30 inches of snow and winds of 65 mph are possible. Anybody have a napkin, I just drooled all over myself!

Extreme impacts are expected with the potential for heavy agricultural losses to livestock and crops still in the field. Tree damage and power outages are likely to be extensive. In western Minnesota and eastern North Dakota this is projected to be a rare category 5 winter storm. 

On the winter storm severity index a (category 5) is one with historic and severe impacts. Many days to at least a week of recovery needed for snow or ice.

The Weather Prediction Center has issued these odds of at least 2" of snow. Most of this will fall October 11-12th. Winter is out of the gate fast this year.

 As we've said all along the snow won't be a problem in my area but the category 5 storm will still give us a little whip lash. By the time we all march out the door Friday morning temperature will be 20-25 degrees colder than what we saw Thursday. The 3k NAM has readings holding in the upper 30s to low 40s all day long. A few showers are possible early, especially near and east of the Mississippi. It will be a windy day as the momentum from the intense upper air low is transported to the surface. You can see the tight pressure gradient that will create the gusty winds.

Despite the winds Friday night temperatures are likely to drop below freezing in many areas. A Freeze watch is in effect for my entire area.

The 3k NAM has lows in the upper 20s to low 30s.

With the winds still whistling you can look for wind chills in the upper teens to low 20s. Oh boy, who wants ice cream? 

One other thing to mention is that I still think a few flurries or snow showers could make it into the northern half of my area Saturday, especially near and north of HWY 20. The 3k NAM is now onto that potential trend as you can see below

I've also been watching typhoon Hagibis in the Pacific. It's shown approaching Japan and then recurving towards the northeast and the Bearing Sea this weekend. 

Research has shown (especially at this time of year that a recurvature away from China builds a west coast ridge allowing a downstream trough to form over the east. Overall that should keep temperatures cooler than average much of October here in the Midwest. The MJO is hinting at that as it finally shows movement into phase 2 after a prolonged stretch in phase 1. See the dotted green lines.

The phase 2 temperature and precipitation correlations in October look this way.

That does teleconnect well with the recurving typhoon. The resulting eastern trough would bring the coolest air relative to normal to the eastern half of the nation. It would also promote a general NW flow which would mean a drier Midwest pattern as well. The GFS shows this for the 500mb jet stream flow October 26th. That makes sense to me but it is a big change (complete reversal) from the pattern we've been in for more than a month. We'll keep and eye on that trend.

With that I sign off. Don't forget the coat when you walk out in the morning. You'll save yourself the time of having to go back in and get it! Make it a great Friday despite the change and as always, roll weather...TS

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© 2019 Terry Swails