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Well, for some it was a snowy Friday night, for others not so much. An upper air disturbance that rolled southeast kicked up some heavy snows in NC Iowa late Friday. As the disturbance moved southeast its snows dried up and for much of my area the event was nothing more than a sloppy mess with most accumulations on grassy surfaces. Here's the snow reported Friday night at 1:05 am thanks to the Iowa mesonet. Almost 9" measured just NE of Fort Dodge, Iowa (100 miles to my northwest). Reminds me of a song they sang on and old TV show called HEE HAW, If it weren't for bad luck, I'd have no luck at all. Close but no cigar!

Models had indicated some of the more significant snows of 1-3+" would slide southeast across my area. It didn't happen as the snow hit a wall and called it a night. I don't know the reason why but I do know it's pretty rare to see accumulations go from 9" to 1" in less than 50 miles. I am humbled again.

Going forward a nice warm-up is again indicated for the end of the weekend as highs head for the 40s on Sunday after a chilly seasonal day Saturday.

That brings us to a crossroads regarding temperatures through mid-January (the coldest time of the year). As many of you know by now I am a big believer in teleconnections for long term trends. One that I put a lot of stock in during the winter is the MJO (Madden Julien Oscillation). It's driven by convection and pressure patterns in the tropical Pacific. There are 8 phases and about half are warm and the other cold during the winter months. The holy grail of cold this time of year are phases 8, 1, and 2.

On the flip side, phases 4,5, and 6 are notable for unseasonal warmth. Here are the temperature analogs for those phases in January. A lot a red over the eastern 2/3rds of the nation.

Look what the EURO, THE GEFS, and the CFSv2 are forecasting the MJO cycle to go through now to January 17th (follow the dotted green lines). That sends us through the heart of 4, 5, and 6. Crap!



The CFSv2

That my friends is not the way to get any sustained cold air into the Midwest. The fact the EPO is also projected to be positive is another big strike against cold.

As you would expect with trends like that, model guidance is quite mild the next 15 days showing this for temperature departures day 10-15. Sub-zero cold is off the table, above normal temperatures are definitely on it!

There are some signs the cold will press towards the end of January with the day 25-30 departures showing the warmth gradually getting undercut by the cold from the northwest.

The way things have been going, I'll believe it when I see it. That's a wrap for me. Until next time roll weather...TS

ONLY A FEW SPOTS LEFT FOR WEATHER SCHOOL. SECURE YOUR DESK NOW... is offering a very special and unique opportunity to learn first-hand the ins and outs of weather forecasting with one of the best meteorologists in the Midwest 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! Roll weather...T. Swails

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