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A hefty tip of my hat to all of you who have put your faith and trust in my forecasts over the years.It's made me a better weatherman and given me a purpose, especially now that the TV world has no place for an old dog like me. To be honest, it's nice to be in control of my own destiny.

That said, to make it on my own I'm still asking for a voluntary subscription fee of $12 dollars a year, one dollar a month to keep TSwails going.Together we can (and we are) creating one of the best, most unique, and reliable weather sites in the Midwest. Your contribution of 3 cents a day, allows me to stay free of the corporate world and pour my energy into doing what I do best, forecasting the weather! We hope you see the value and hard work that goes into the site everyday. Your support in any way is sincerely appreciated. Thanks and roll weather. To donate click on the secure green box below.


The last week I've been trying to get a handle on temperature trends heading into the month of December. About the only thing I feel confident about is that I'm not confident in any long term solutions. That said, I do have some thoughts I will share with the qualification that it's nothing more than educated speculation.

Coming right out of the gate I'll start with the EPO (eastern Pacific Oscillation). Both the EURO and GFS ensembles are showing a neutral to positive phase through December 5th.



If you've been following trends here the past month you know that during our record breaking cold and snowy period late October to mid November, the EPO was strongly negative. The move to a positive EPO indicates we've lost the connection to the modified Arctic air that so deeply chilled us. Now we are getting some influence from Pacific air masses and at the very least should keep things more seasonal going into December. I would not be surprised to see a couple periods where temperatures spike above normal when stronger storms track to the northwest.

How long we can hold this trend in place will determine what happens in December. One trend I really dislike as a snow fan is the long range EURO taking the MJO into the warm phases of 2, 3, 4, and perhaps 5 and 6 through December.

Look what you are getting into there for temperature correlations. That's a blow torch that would be a nightmare for winter here in the central Midwest.

On the other hand the US based NCEP MJO forecast is far different and quickly gets out of 2 and by early December is back into the cold phases of 7 and 8.

Look at what phases 7,8, and 1 bring in December. That's a dramatically different look.

The Japanese MJO which only goes out to November 27th, never gets into the warm phases at all.

When you see discrepancies in models like this (no mojo on the MJO) you know the pattern is in flux and it's a good idea to be cautious in the long term. I still think the EPO is going to drive the pattern this winter so as long as that is neutral to positive, I don't see the harsh cold getting back into the pattern for any extended period of time until after Thanksgiving.

Something else I've noted is that cold Novembers that occur in El Nino years, tend to be followed by much warmer temperatures in December...there is a very strong correlation for that. Take a look.

However, this year in enso 3.4 there is no El Nino and none is expected.The plumes average out near zero.

This is interesting because December's following cold November's tend to be colder here in the Midwest.

A factor that really argues for staying El Ninoe free is the deep solar minimum we are in. Sun spots are at their lowest now and in this graphic you can see El Nino conditions are more likely near peaks than valleys like we are in now. In fact, La Nina's are more likely in sun spot minimums than El Ninos.

So while December's weather may have conflicting signals, I don't see it being a blow torch like last year. I also think the lack of an El Nino and current sea surface temperatures are favorable for this to be a cold winter, especially after the first of the year.

Another chip for cold is the fact it's been shown that periods of solar minimum also promote stratospheric warming's which can bring the dreaded polar vortex into play. See the dark dots and squares below.

Based on the available evidence, I'm still pretty jacked up about winter overall no matter what happens in December.

One thing's for certain, the next couple of days will be warmer. That's due to a rain maker that brings its precipitation into play Wednesday night and Thursday morning. These are the forecast highs the next couple days on the GFS.


And Thursday, temps will fall in the afternoon but before then it's toasty.

These are the rain totals on the GFS which are quite generous.

If that's not enough, a major trough could bring significant weather Thanksgiving week. Tuesday night's models have really bounced around on the timing and intensity, even which wave is the strongest. I'll be getting into this in greater detail in the next few days. Roll weather and for now, enjoy our warm-up.

Hey, what do you think about attending weather school at Swails University? It's happening in January and you can get all the details below. is offering a very special and unique opportunity for you to learn first-hand the ins and outs of weather forecasting with one of the best meteorologists in the country along with his team of expert meteorologists.

That’s right… You want to forecast right along with Terry Swails, well now you can. He’s teaching weather with TSwails newest program called WEATHER SCHOOL. The opening bell rings this January and you can be a member of the very first graduating class. The one-day forecasting seminar for weather enthusiasts will be held at his home in January. It’s not your typical run-of-the-mill school. There will be no tests, but Terry, Rebecca, and Nick will cram your head with so much knowledge, it’ll be spinning like a tornado before the day is over

You want to know the essential online sites to use for models, radar, and the basic weather tools? DONE! You want to understand the structure of models and the role they play? DONE! You want to be able to construct forecasts from the ground up? DONE!

WEATHER SCHOOL will be presented in a seminar-type format where you'll have the ability to ask questions and dig deep. You’ll get the scoop on data acquisition, model analysis, severe weather, and actual forecasting from the big dog himself, T. Swails. With 43 years of experience and an uncanny ability to break the science down, you’ll open the door to forecasting like never before.

Along with the head master T. Swails himself, meteorologists Rebecca Kopelman and Nick Stewart of KGAN TV will be there to lend their knowledge and experience to the discussion. It will be fun, informative, and factual! This is the day for you to see, feel, and experience what it’s like to be in the hot seat of a meteorologist.

The seminar will be held January 25th and will last from noon until 5:00pm. We have limited seating and the cost is $ 99 dollars per person. A catered lunch will be provided. Again..not a lot of seats so reservations with a pre-payment are required. Sorry, no refunds. If there’s enough interest, a second session will be added in early February. To register or get additional information send an email to

GIVE THE GIFT OF WEATHER. This might be the perfect gift for that hard to buy for person this Christmas. Along with a WEATHER SCHOOL admittance voucher, TSwails will send a special holiday greeting to your weather enthusiast if you give the gift of weather with the TSwails touch!



Purpose: To help weather enthusiasts understand the basics of forecasting and apply the knowledge and techniques learned to construct personal forecasts.


The essential on-line sites for models, observations, satellite and radar images, and general weather data.

Session 2: ANALYSIS:

Determining your objective goals. Short term, intermediate, or long-term. Understanding the process of analysis and its relationship to forecasting.

Model options and choices. What to use and when!

The GFS, EURO, NAM 3k, NAM 12K, Canadian, HRRR, MJO, ensembles, teleconnections, etc.

Locating, learning, and knowing what’s essential to make a reliable forecast.

The art and science of model interpretation: Using and understanding model output. Its called guidance for a reason!

Learn how to analyze key parameters such as:

Surface and upper air data

Vorticity and energy

Precipitation output

Wind and pressure


A simulation of the basic process using model output.

BREAK: A 25-30 minute recess to enjoy a catered lunch…


Thunderstorms, tornadoes, derechoes, and squall lines.

Soundings. What are they and why should I care?

Instability (CAPE) vs (CIN) Critical interaction involving moisture, heating, and forcing.

Uncovering the ingredients of a severe weather set-up.

TVS signatures. What to look for on radar.

Role of SPC vs NWS, and your local TV station regarding the warning process.

Simulated model driven forecast of a severe weather event/tornado outbreak


The key ingredients required for significant winter storm:

How to forecast the rain snow line.

How to forecast snow totals from QPF

Determining totals from snow ratios.

What to look for at the surface and at upper levels (500 and 850mb)

Model bias and determining the storm track

Simulated model driven forecast of a significant Midwest winter storm


An open period for attendees to ask questions regarding relevant topics or issues discussed during the day.


Some final words of inspiration from the events headliners

Once again, to reserve a spot or ask questions send an email to See you when the bell rings! T. Swails

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