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WATCHING AND WAITING...

Watching and waiting. That's what I do with my time. Everyday I look through scads of charts and weather data looking for trouble, or at the very least areas of interest. These points of focus are what I call trends. Once I identify a "trend", I wait for more data to see if it becomes reality. It's like a jig saw puzzle. I just keep putting the pieces together until I get the big picture and then I'm done. Sometimes I've got three or four going at once. I imagine it sounds boring but there's nothing like seeing the future before it becomes reality.


One thing I've decided not to do anymore is make long range forecasts which evoke the science of climatology more than meteorology. I strongly felt going into the fall that December was going to be cold, or at least turn that way early in the month. Well, I'm here to tell you I blew that call. What's worse is all the time I spent to come up with that worthless presumption. Just look at the month so far. Virtually the entire nation is above normal at the halfway point in December. In defense of myself, I've seen every winter outlook issued with any sort if merit and none of them showed anything like this massive blow torch, especially over the northern half of the United States.

Here's where we've really over-performed this month. High temperatures through the 16th are averaging 10-12 degrees above normal per day. Oh man that's crazy! It does help on the heating bills though. I can't say for sure why things have gone so badly astray but I think two big factors are at play. One is the strength of the La Nina and the other is climate change. Some of the old tell tale signs or teleconnections just don't work like they did in the past as the climatology used in modeling just isn't valid anymore.


Here's something else that bothers me. This is the MJO, something I was counting on to bring the cold. Most of the month it's been sitting in warm phases like 5 and 6. Just before Christmas the EURO gets into 7 which in December is colder. However, it's only there for a few days and then we hit January and the MJO hits a wall and holds nearly stationary in phase 7. It hardly budges.

That's a problem for cold as you can see below. Phase 7 in January is mild compared to what it is in December. If the MJO doesn't decide to move into 8 at some point in January we could keep this spring fling going a bit further. That's far from a sure thing but it is on the table. Mercy me.

Going against that idea is the GFS who's MJO is entering 8 January 1st which implies a cold start to the New Year.

Obviously, there's a lot of uncertainty in the pattern and confidence is low. However, until I see evidence of real cold that looks to hang on, I'm leaning more toward the more moderate temperatures of the EURO to start 2022. I see the cold the GFS MJO is showing near January 1st but I refuse to believe it until the EURO and other models get on board. If the cold beats me so be it. At least we'll be able to figure out which of these solutions is correct soon. I'm tired of being beat up by this mild air. Time to give it the respect it's earned. More below.


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THE WEEKEND AHEAD...

The weekend ahead promises to be more seasonal and for the most part dry. There is just a chance that some very light snow or a rain snow mix could clip my far SE counties early morning before dissipating. This is very minor if it even happens down that way.


Weekend temperatures point towards highs in the low to mid 30s Saturday and Sunday. Overall, those readings are pretty close to normal. Clouds from the weak disturbance passing to the southeast should break out Saturday as drier air moves in. That will lead to sunny skies Sunday. Uneventful to say the least.


That gets us to Christmas week and there's not much happening until Christmas day at the earliest. Here's what modeling is showing for total snow now through Christmas day. Impossible sledding. We need a miracle fast.


The EURO

The GFS

The GEM

Steve Gottschalk my stat man extraordinaire also continues his look at harsh January's His 3rd installment covers the period January 1893 to January 1936. He also throws in a little animal trivia at the end. Thanks Steve..


OUR COLDEST JANUARIES PART 3.

January of 1893

Average monthly temperature 9.3 degrees. It was 5 degrees colder over the eastern 1/2 of the state.

Coldest temperatures were Decorah -36, Fayette -24 and Clinton -23.

The cold spells were 2-3rd, 5th, 13-27th and 29-31st. At Anamosa the rivers and ponds were much frozen over.

Some of the larger monthly snowfall totals were Havelock 34", Blakesville -22", Clinton 15.3" and Cedar Falls 14".

Snowfall on the ground at the month's end was 19" at Fayette.

Jan. 4th - they are cutting the ice now, it is 17" thick.

Jan. 9th - the snow is much drifted and the railroads are having trouble.

Jan. 15th - The snow on the ground is 18" deep and the temp. is down to -25.

Jan. 17th - scooping snow is very popular, the roads are blocked and the fences suffer.

Jan. 22nd - most roads are still badly drifted and it is very cold.

Jan. 26th - it has been a very cold and stormy month, some people were snowbound for days.

January of 1905

Average monthly temp. was 9.4 degrees.

Coldest temps. were Inwood -30. Grand Meadow had 19 days with 0 degree readings.

Cold spells were 8-18th and 22-31st.

There was no real January thaw to lessen the massive snowdrifts.

Monthly snowfall totals were Lacona 18.2", Belle Plaine 16.5" and Mount Vernon 15.3".

January of 1912

Average monthly temp. was 2.4 degrees.

Coldest temps. were Washta -47, Charles City -34, Belle Plaine -31 and Cedar Rapids -31.

Five other stations had temps. of -40 or colder.

Dubuque - the first 21 days had below 0 temps. except for the 17th.

Des Moines - the average temp. for the 3-12th was -7.8 degrees. The maximum temp. for the 12th was -14 degrees.

Monthly snowfall totals were Rockwell City - 19", Cedar Rapids - 4.6" and Davenport - 2.5".

January of 1918

Average monthly 7.2 degrees

Coldest temps. were Washta -35, Iowa Falls -29, Waterloo -27 and Cedar Rapids -20.

Belle Plaine had 20 days with 0 degree temps.

Cold spells were 1st, 8-23rd and 27-31st.

Monthly snowfall totals were LeClaire 27.8", Maquoketa 25.7" and Clinton 24.1".

There was snow on the ground all month in the eastern 1/3 of the state.

January of 1929

Average monthly temp. 8.2 degrees.

Coldest temps. were Decorah = -29, Olin = -24 and Cedar Rapids = -21.

Cold spells were 6-8th, 11-16th and 19-31st.

The cold was persistent and there were numerous blizzards with much drifting. The worst storm was on the 4th into late on the 5th with a great many highways closed. Some remained closed throughout the month. One town in N.E. part of the state was completely isolated for 2 weeks. The railroad traffic was seriously interrupted and the traffic was rerouted around impassible drifts. One line in the N.E. part of the state was not operating for 10 days. Snow fences were buried and rural mail was impossible in some areas. On the 5th a large number of autos were stranded with all the roads out of Des Moines being blocked. Some were stuck in the drifts til the end of the month. The heavy snow damaged roofs, livestock suffered and many birds died.

The state average monthly snowfall total was 17.5". Some of the totals were Dubuque - 34.3", Belle Plaine - 32", Waverly 30.5", Cedar Rapids 27" and Iowa City 19.5".

January of 1930

Average monthly temp. 8.7 degrees.

Coldest temps. were Decorah -37, Olin -35, Iowa City -31, Belle Plaine -28 and Cedar Rapids -27.

Cold spells were 7th, 10th, 16-31st.

There was severe cold after the 6th with numerous sudden temperature changes and heavy snowfall.

Monthly snowfall totals were Oskaloosa 24.9", Iowa City 21", Clinton 18.7" and Davenport 17.7".

January of 1936

Coldest temps. were Elkader -33, Cedar falls -32, Cedar Rapids -25, Davenport & Iowa City -22.

Cold spells were 3-4th, 13th and 18-31st.

First cold wave was the 18th with below 0 temps. On the 22nd a second cold wave with a stiff Norther that produced near all-time record lows. It was well below 0 for 3 straight days.

The state average was 15 days with below 0 temps.

During this intense cold, frozen fingers, toes and ears were common. At Northwood, 60 schoolchildren sustained injuries, schools were closed and cars were not used on account of adverse conditions. Several deaths were reported.

The state average monthly snowfall was 19.4". Some snowfall totals were Red Oak - 43.9", Tipton - 22", Clinton - 20.8", Iowa City - 20.5" and Cedar Rapids - 13.9". Snow on the ground at the month's end was from 10" to 20".

The first half of the month featured frequent light snows. The heaviest storm was from the 17th-18th with the amounts ranging from 3" in the north to 20" in the south.

On the 22nd, gale force winds and snow made for a real blizzard which pushed human endurance to the limit. There were N.W. winds all day blowing the snow into deep drifts. Highway traffic was paralyzed and railroad schedules were disrupted with many cancellations. All country roads were blocked. Horse and sleds were used and even the huge drifts hampered them too. There was an alarming death toll on the wild birds.

Animals and storms?

On the morning of the 15th I received a text from a friend that when she to feed the cats they were all in hiding. Riley the weather cat used to do this every time a bad storm was coming. I also had a text early in the evening from my granddaughter that their dog was panting and constantly pacing back and forth, acting rather nervous. Last year just before the derecho I heard from several persons that their pets were acting strangely several hours before the storm hit. Some animals seem to know that a storm is coming!


That's it for now. Hitting the shopping mall today in search of Christmas gifts. Wish I knew what I was looking for! Roll weather...TS


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