Two weeks ago I was very optimistic about where things would go by January. Well... we are here and nothing is lining up! I'll put this in the W column for those who love a mild Winter. Could the Heat Miser truly bring the year without a Winter? I'm not ready to say THAT much because we CAN still correct course, but it doesn't leave us with a whole lot of time by the time it happens. January is a month where we typically see nearly 1/2 of our average annual snowfall. If we don't get anything to set up this month, then our numbers, and substantial snow chances greatly decrease. There's ALWAYS February though... last year was abysmal, but from a climatological standpoint, it IS the snowiest month for South Jersey.
Here's what's going on... long range forecasting is like putting a gigantic puzzle together. We don't look at just one variable and make a guess based on that - we look a MANY things... sea surface temps around the world, areas of convection in the tropics, upper air dynamics etc. They're all related in some way or other. Believe it or not, we look to the SOUTHERN hemisphere to try to understand what is happening here. Connecting the dots is a frustrating and time consuming task. Here's where some of our major oscillations are:
EPO - EASTERN PACIFIC OSCILLATION
We've been sharply positive since December. We want to see the indices NEGATIVE to help cut off the warm pacific flow into the lower 48. Each line you see here is a different model forecast. The TREND is better than what we've seen heading into late January, so this gives me SOME hope.
PNA - PACIFIC NORTH AMERICAN PATTERN
Oof. I haven't seen a look this bad in a LONG time. Unlike the EPO, we want this index to be POSITIVE. This has everything to do with the jetstream in the west. When it is SO negative, there is no ridge where we need it to be. In fact, quite the opposite! A HUGE trough has settled in throughout the western states locking in the cold and snow out there. So there IS a strong winter in the lower 48, it's just not here.
NAO - NORTH ATLANTIC OSCILLATION
You know this as "The Greenland Block". It HAS been negative, but nothing ever materialized with it. A negative NAO becomes more of a solid driving force later in the season, so this forecast is a little more encouraging as well. There looks to be a STRONG Scandinavian ridge setting up which could help our case here at home by the end of the month too. This is step one in "reclaiming winter". Will it actually play out? That's a different story. We wait and see... but this would help disrupt the Polar Vortex and in theory allow a piece of it to break off and move into the lower 48 which would set us up well for February. I'm grasping at strings here folks!
MJO - MADDEN JULIAN OSCILLATION
This has everything to do with tropical convection. When this goes into phases 4,5 and 6 we get stuck with warmer air. We need it to go on the opposite side into 8 1 and 2. down the road, later into the season 4 and 5 aren't bad but right now they are. This solidifies a bad pattern for snow for at least the next 2 weeks.
Now, with all that said, is there ANY chance of snow in the immediate short term? Actually... yes, I'm glad I asked that question! We've got a quick moving system that will come across on Tuesday. Right now I'm thinking it's probably a rain or mix for us with accumulating snow possible to our north and definitely New England, but model guidance HAS come in a little farther south and colder. The NAM is picking up on it. It's still too far out to really deliver any details on, but it's definitely worth noting! By late tomorrow we will have a much better idea!
Some model guidance is suggesting we could get WELL into the 60s next weekend... you know what my stance is? If it's not gonna snow, bring me the warmth!