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A SHORT REPRIEVE...

A strong cold front that raked the Midwest Tuesday brought us all back to the reality that winter is lurking and can strike on short notice at any time. After highs in the 50s and low 60s Tuesday, readings in many areas held in the mid to upper 20s Wednesday with wind chills in the single digits. At mid-afternoon temperatures in many areas were about 30 degrees colder than 24 hours earlier. It was not a pleasant day to be outside.

Out west, some spots were also looking at a coating of snow. This hi-res visible satellite shows the snow cover deposited by Tuesday's system from NW Iowa into SE Minnesota.

These are the actual reported snowfall amounts.

Despite all that snow to the NW, the system produced little in the way of precipitation in my area. That's pretty much the way it's been around here the past 2 weeks. The active storm tracks have split north and south of my area. You can see them laid out in the precipitation totals since mid-November.

Today will be day 15 with no measurable rain in Dubuque and it looks as though it could be awhile before anything significant occurs.

Over the next 10 days ending December 10th, here's what the EURO and GFS indicate for precipitation totals. Most locations are showing little more than a trace. That just pathetic.


The EURO

The GFS


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UPS AND DOWNS CONTINUE...

So while the weather doesn't look very exciting by stormy standards, there will be systems but their impacts will be mainly confined to winds and temperature fluctuations. As I showed you earlier, we just experienced a drop of 30 degrees Wednesday. Thursday, winds are already returning to the south and we go from lows in the teens Thursday morning to highs near 40 in the afternoon. By Friday we are back in the 50s only to plunge back into the 20s Saturday. Buckle up...

That's not the end of it either. The GFS has us back in the 40s Sunday and Monday only to tail off again the middle of next week.

With the MJO and other teleconnections in cold phases, I keep waiting for cold to overwhelm the pattern but instead we get these quick intrusions that come and go. That looks to be the case into next week and then the MJO spins into the warm phases 4, 5, and 6.


Going strictly by the MJO teleconnections, that strongly implies a warmer pattern the second week of December. Look at the phase analogs for 4, 5, and 6 in December. That's the holy grail of warmth.

However, the AO (Arctic oscillation), the EPO (Pacific oscillation), and NAO (North American oscillation) are all projected to be in negative (or cold phases). Combined, those phases would look to fight or offset the warmth of the MJO. It's a bit unorthodox but my suspicion is we see more of these wild temperatures swings as the teleconnections battle it out for superiority. As one who likes winter and snow at Christmas, I am not at all thrilled to see the MJO going into those warm 4 through 6 phases. I'm hoping we come out of this conflict with a draw and then cycle into 7 and 8 in mid-December.


What may ultimately cast the deciding vote is the blocking that is setting up at northern latitudes. At 500mb, higher pressure (in red) shows up from Alaska through the Polar regions into Greenland. That bridging effect forces the cold to undercut the higher heights displacing it further south.

Looking at temperature departures, you can see how relative to average its much colder in the US compared to the polar regions of North America. That's the thermal structure the negative AO, EPO, and NAO are known for producing. So even though the EURO and GFS MJO cycles are in December's warmest temperature analog December 14th, both models are indicating below normal temperatures.

That's a big contradiction and an issue that needs to be resolved. Something's got to give but at least today, the warmer idea of the MJO has gotten a better place at the table. The idea of significant cold the first half of December is seriously under challenge, a big change from what seemed likely a week ago. Additionally, the pattern looks extremely dry through the 15th of December.


Anyway, if you are still with me, the atmosphere is really in a fight right now and at some point a knockout punch is coming. We're only in the early rounds of this brawl and already you h