THE ALASKAN CONNECTION TO THE DEEP FREEZE...
CHESTNUT MOUNTAINS 60th ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATION IS THIS SATURDAY!
This Saturday is the 60th Anniversary Celebration at Chestnut Mountain Resort In Galena. This will be a fun-filled family event that I highly suggest putting on your to do list. During the day the Big Nut Open Ski and Snowboard Competition is going on with some of the best talent in the Midwest participating. The fires will be lit and the food and drinks flowing inside the resort. At night live entertainment is planned with Bowman Pickney and Evans providing the music from 8-11pm. Top that off with the Torchlight Parade and Fireworks over the mountain at 10pm. and you've got yourself a top notch winter day. I plan to be a part of it with some live remotes and videos. I hope to see you on the slopes this Saturday at Chestnut Mountain, the Midwest's Premier Year Round Resort!
THURSDAYS FEATURE POST
This winter has certainly been a cakewalk when it comes to frigid temperatures. Those Manitoba maulers have not materialized like they did last year producing all-time record lows and severe wind chills. If the cold is not here you can bet it's someplace else and the first place I look is Alaska. It's not happenstance that in winter when its mild here chances are its even colder than usual there. It's what the old timers call the Alaskan Connection. If the storm track is in a position to produce frigid weather in our 49th state, it's likely to coming off the Pacific here sparing us any Arctic air masses. That goes for much of the rest of the country too.
Here's the temperature departures since the end of November. That says it all.
Fairbanks is on track to have its 3rd coldest winter since what's known as the Great Pacific Climate Shift in the late 1970s. There was a stretch from mid-December to early February where lows were below zero for 54 consecutive days. The coldest morning was January 8th when the low hit 43 below. Here's the really astounding fact, the high was 36 below. That's disgusting. How can you live in that?
Here's the average Fairbanks winter temperature (December-February) 1930 to 2020. Notice since the late 70s the tendency for readings to be consistently above the mean.
Now this is pretty funky. At 50 mb, a very high altitude, an intensely cold air mass has been spinning around over the western Arctic for much of the past 3 months. This killed our potential for a robust winter as it promotes a strong zonal flow that hinders the jet from buckling and in turn delivering Arctic air to the continental U.S.
Essentially it keeps the MJO (Madden Julien Oscillation, AO (Arctic Oscillation), EPO (eastern Pacific Oscillation), and NOA (North Atlantic Oscillation) in warm phases.
Here's a couple examples of the positive AO and EPO and how they have conspired with the MJO to keep us mild.
The positive AO
The positive EPO
Of these 2 teleconnections I think the EPO is an especially key driver in the Midwest's weather since it foretells whether or not air masses will be coming off the Pacific or the Arctic. The GFS ensemble shows this the next 2 weeks. Note the jump to a strongly positive EPO this weekend and the a minor dip before another positive surge to close out mid-March.
What that implies is a quick warm-up this weekend, a minor cool down and then its back to well above normal temperatures. You can see the warmth Sunday with the EURO pushing that 60 degree line close to I-80
Below you can see how temperatures respond to the EPO going negative for a day or two near March 5th and then how quickly readings warm in response to a another positive burst back into the 60s. In all honesty, I think this winter is has the potential to die a quick death.
In the big picture I think it's quite fascinating how sea surface temperatures impact the teleconnections that drive our weather. I guess it goes to figure when you consider 70% of the planet is comprised of oceans. The thermal structure of the Pacific is a hugely important ingredient in the type of winter weather (and daily extremes) we experience here in the Midwest! With that in mind I will wrap this up and let your reflect on it. Roll weather...TS
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