Every single year... and I mean EVERY year... we hear folks in mid to late December saying "When is Winter going to show up? When is it going to snow??"... Look, I LOVE snow. I'm probably the biggest fan of snow out there in South Jersey, but it's important to have patience and watch things evolve. Right now? We are in an absolutely HORRIBLE pattern. The pacific jet is overrunning the country with warm air, the southeast ridge is guiding most storms to our northwest which puts us in the warm sector which brings rain. Blah.
That darn Southeast ridge is quite literally the bane of my existence in the Winter. It can totally bust a seasonal forecast if it doesn't lift out - or at least move a little to the east. It CAN help us out from time to time IF cold air is present flowing in from the north, but those instances are few and far between. We need our upper air pattern to evolve in such a way where cold air isn't just transient, it gets here and stays locked in. So far, we just don't have that.
Am I concerned? No... not yet. If we get to mid January and things haven't starting flipping around, THEN I will be concerned. Until then, the forecast, as far as I'm concerned, has worked out as thought. Cold November, warmer December and a change coming our way for January. The ingredients are on the table. Will they come together and make a tasty dinner? THAT is the big question obviously.
Here's something that is very interesting - the Southern Oscillation Index (SOI) is absolutely TANKING.
Now, I know these numbers mean diddly squat to most of you out there but look at the column "Daily Contribution". Anytime you see those values negative, you're looking at high pressure building over Australia, which is USUALLY a good signal for cold all the way over in our neck of the woods. The impact isn't immediate but is usually seen downstream. The past few days we've seen some very strong numbers. Will this translate? I'm hopeful.
While we've got that going on, there's something that IS NOT very favorable happening with the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO)
Don't worry about knowing what it all means, let me give you the layman's interpretation here... The green line is the model operational run, in this case it is the EURO. It is the forecast. The yellow lines show the same model ran under different circumstances and different variables. We call these the members of the model. The MJO is forecast to go into phases 6 and 7in the coming days. Luckily it's shallow in those phases meaning the result won't be extreme. See 8, 1 and 2 on the left side? THAT is where we need the lines to go and STAY for the colder air to hold. A portion of this model DOES go into those colder phases, but as it stands right now the percentage is small. I want to see this evolve. I do NOT like the idea that it swings back around into those warmer phases again (4&5) that is an UGLY look and I'm hoping it is wrong, obviously.
Here's another model's forecast for the MJO:
This is a bit more encouraging as it brings the forecast into 8 and 1. We could work with that. We shall see how that pans out.
Another thing we need to look at are some teleconnections (upper air patterns) that have a large hand in hour our pattern here at the surface develops. The North Atlantic Oscillation (NAO), the Pacific North American pattern (PNA), the Eastern Pacific Oscillation (EPO) and the Western Pacific Oscillation (WPO) need to go into phases more favorable for cold air.
We generally like to see the NAO negative. This helps with storm track and colder air. We've been briefly negative, but it hasn't really materialized much of anything for us. We go positive and it looks like towards mid January, back to negative. I believe the Pacific air patterns are more influential, so let's look at those:
Warmer air is favored when the EPO is positive. We've been positive. Look at the forecast for the end of week 1 in January... better.... more favorable!
We want this to be negative... good indication this happens in the same timeframe as everything else looking better.
So hope IS alive, I wouldn't go throwing the towel in. I know you can grow impatient, I am myself... but we are in this for the long haul. My policy is, and always has been - make a well educated and researched guess and stick with it until it's apparent you're going to be wrong. I can't slant the forecast in favor of what I want to see play out - that's just not how any of this works.
Historically, January and February are our good snow months. I expect that to be the case this year. I'm going 25% above average snow for our region. I see no reason to back off. It is WAY early in the game.