North Central bakes to start June

Memorial Day is the unofficial kick off to summer for a lot of people. There is only about a week left of school, give or take, for most people, June is around the corner and even the most northerly spots in the United States would be rightfully upset if they saw snow. Still, late may and early June in the Upper Midwest is usually in the mid 70s for a high. Warm, for sure, but not sweltering.

This version of the earliest stretch of “summer” features a blocking pattern in the center of the country. A temporary pulse down in the overall flow into the ridge is allowing a bit of progression for the pattern. This means that on the western side of the ridge, there is room for the trough to lead to surface development.

And if you are a long time reader of the site, my book, or just a first timer generally knowledgeable of things meteorological, you will know southerly flow precedes low pressure, and that means a hot, humid warm up for the middle of the country. In fact, for the next week, most of the north central US will be double digits warmer than normal.

Low pressure at either coast, including the one driving warm air north, are keeping temperatures below normal in California and the mid-Atlantic, while the fact that it is just generally hot already this time of year along the Gulf Coast are dampening some of the numbers there.

The hot, soupy weather will lead to some afternoon convection for much of this warm region, while surface features bumped up into Canada will ensure a little bit of extra convection later in the week in the Northern Plains and western Great Lakes. The calendar will say June, but it will fell like July or August for a few days.

Supertyphoon Mawar is a monster, but catastrophe may be averted

Earlier this week, Supertyphoon Mawar swiftly intensified, then crashed through Guam as a Category 4 storm, the strongest in memory for the US dependency. Damage is extensive, power is out to the island and the recovery will be long and hard. Two men lost their lives, which is tragic, but also a lower figure than one might have anticipated. Mawar only strengthened after passing over the Mariana Islands, but if forecasts are accurate, Mawar will not go down as one of the typhoons of legend in the western Pacific.

There is some model consensus on Mawar’s future. An area of low pressure is expected to move out of eastern Mongolia and northeastern China, across the Korean Peninsula and into the north Pacific. It will drag a cold or stationary front westward and south through China. This will have an effect of bringing Mawar to a full stop, northwest of Luzon in the Phillippines and east of Taiwan, two major population centers.

Mawar will still get close enough to both islands to bring high surf and the portential for a little storm surge, especially given the proximity suggested by some models to Taiwan, but we aren’t expecting a direct landfall of this strong storm on either. Then, as Mawar weakens, it will turn north towards, but ultimately southeast of the home islands of Japan, another crisis averted.

That certainly isn’t to say that Mawar will be totally unimpactful after Guam. The storm will move swiflty through the Bonin and Volcano Islands, the most famous of which for Americans is Iwo Jima, which is presently uninhabited. There are also important shipping channels that will be disrupted while the storm churns between all these commercial venues.

There is plenty of time for the tropical season to take a more sinister turn, but for now, we tentatively have had a stay.

A reset spring

So many years in a row, we’ve been talking about premature tropical storms, or the ongoing western drought. This season, if there are any major stories, they are of the short lived, spring tornado variety. You know, the type of scenario you would expect if you’ve studied American climatology.

A robust snow season led to considerable concern for a massive flood season, especially in the Upper Midwest and further south through the Mississippi Valley. Fortunately, despite all the snow that the Dakotas and Minnesota saw this season, Iowa saw very little, and instead of aggregating, the threat for downstream flooding withered away. There was flooding in typical spots in the Upper Midwest, but nothing that was particularly overwhelming. Places that are often underwater were once again underwater for a couple of days.

The heavy snow also afflicted the Sierras in California, and while the melting of the season did fill some reservoirs and watery spots that aren’t accustomed to be watery, the snow really served as a net positive, scuttling years of drought, and rescuing the local agricultural economy. In fact, there isn’t even a forecast for drought to return this season. Its part of a nationwide drought recovery forecast this summary, and surely the most notable part.

There is nothing to say that the tropical season won’t be just as active as the forecasts call for either, but that activity had stretched outside of the early bounds of the normal Atlantic hurricane season multiple times in the last decade or so. There are only 10 days until the North Atlantic Season starts, and we still await our first A storm, and will likely wait until the season begins.

There are still plenty of weather stories to continue to monitor and keep your eyes on, but this season is a full reset on a lot of the major weather stories that started the 2020s. For now, we are back to “normal”.

April forecaster of the Month

April was generally cooler than normal for a large swath of the country, and for a long stretch of the time. Lets try to remember the month fondly, though. There was at least one week where the temperatures were in the 80s here in Minneapolis! And Clime can remember things fondly as well, as they were hot in the month of April as well. They secured the top spot for the month.

OutletForecast Wins (year)
National Weather Service2
The Weather Channel0.5

March Forecaster of the Month

March was a heck of a month. May has a long history as one of the most tornado rich months of the year, but this month served as a reminder that tornado season starts as early as March. Deadly Twisters from Mississippi in the south to Illinois in the north were the major headline, but relentless blizzards and continued cold and flooding in the northern and western US were also factors in a wild month. Victoria-Weather tamed that beast, though, and we claimed the top forecasting month for March.

OutletForecast Wins (year)
National Weather Service1.5
The Weather Channel

Tornadoes devastate Mississippi; More large storms loom

What was presently evaluated to be an EF-4 tornado swept through western Mississippi on Friday evening, striking Rolling Fork and Silver City. The cell continued and another tornado struck near Winona at an EF-3 rating. In total, these tornadoes were responsible for the deaths of at least 20, most of whom were from Rolling Fork.

The Jackson, Mississippi NWS office is among the best in the country, in my pinion, and they were well ahead of this storm. There was a tornado emergency issued for Rolling Fork and Silver City before the storm struck, with ample advanced warning. Rolling Fork lies well removed from other large population centers, in an impoverished part of Mississippi, and the ability for the message to be disseminated, and the swiftness of emergency response may be factors in the elevated death toll.

Undoubtedly, the structural integrity of many of the building in Rolling Fork, Silver City and Winona were factors, and the strength of the tornadoes themselves absolutely cannot be discounted. This storm, like so many before it, however, underscore the systemic issues that can increase the lethality of a system, and emphasize how important it is to have a plan for severe weather before it is on your doorstep.

With that in mind, there is certainly more rough weather on the horizon as we get deeper into springtime. The SPC is already monitoring Friday the 31st for a significant severe weather outbreak. They highlight a large tract of the country straddling the Mississippi, and I would, at this early stage, be particularly interested to see how the situation evolves around the Bootheel of Missouri.

The storm is going to be reflective of so many that have struck this winter. A deep diving trough will initiate rapid cyclonic development in the southern Plains, lifting north towards the western Great Lakes. Vorticity within the feature will lead to a tornado threat within the northern part of the storm, though strong wind and some hail are going to be an issue as well.

If you are in line for this severe weather, it’s time to have a plan. Even if this storm might leave you unaccosted, with severe weather season coming for the country, it’s a good idea for all of us to start considering what we will do in the event of a life threatening situation.

February Forecaster of the month

Well, that didn’t take long. The new outlets we cycle in are not generally that successful. I’m not sure Weathernation has ever won. Clime, however, won in only their second month on the job. After an auspicious start to the year, they have steadily improved and were able to take the second title of the year, and so far, have the highest individual forecast total of all of our outlets.

OutletForecast Wins (year)
National Weather Service0.5
The Weather Channel

Frenetic weather pattern batters the country

Via USA Today

There is a healthy respect for hurricanes, which is continually reinforced by some vicious storms over the past few years. National Hurricane Center forecasts lead to drastic action, and with the verification of the storms coming ashore and doing incomprehensible damage, even the most skeptical citizens are driven to take precautions when a hurricane looms.

Severe weather has garnered a fair bit of respect as well, and we are starting to see the dawning of this year’s severe season. We usually start with some storms in the lower Mississippi Valley. An outbreak in the state of Mississippi in January or February is practically a rite of passage at this point, and we’ve had a couple of those already. This week, we’ve also seen strong storms in the traditional tornado alley of Oklahoma and Kansas.

Severe weather gains the respect, and the response and preparation of people directly impacted by severe season. Of course, tornadoes are very isolated incidents, and they don’t touch every part of the area impacted by the more general thunderstorm. Even in the example of the recent stormy weather, Norman, Oklahoma was struck by a tornado. Norman is famously the home to the National Severe Storms Laboratory and the Storm Prediction Center, and the twister passed about half a mile from their shared facility, and damage was felt in local neighborhoods. Otherwise, however, the Oklahoma City metro was left unperturbed.

By tornadoes, it should be noted. The storm that swept through the region was contributed by a very strong cold front, which caused dust storms through western Oklahoma and the Texas Panhandle. Still, even with the strong storms, it’s usually the tornadoes that capture the imagination of the conscientious weather watcher.

Snow storms are something of a blend between the two features of a hurricane and severe storms. It comes from broad, well anticipated systems, but the impacts are felt differently from mile to mile. Instead of respected and anticipated, snow storm forecasting is almost always derided immediately, and sometimes amid the storm, especially in locations that see their share of severe winter weather.

Even as snow was ongoing in the Twin Cities, a lot of stalwarts complained that the snow was not as advertised. In truth, nobody was reading the fine print on the advertisements, because things were proceeding exactly as planned. There was about half a foot of snow that fell on Tuesday night, and then another 10-15 inches fell overnight Wednesday to Thursday. Originally, there were more dire forecasts, but outlets were pretty well in line on the total snow, a foot to 18″ in the metro (it was up to 20 in Apple Valley in the south suburbs), and the break in the middle was noted by every forecast people took the time to read.

Let me tell you, 18″ of snow, even just a foot of snow, is plenty of snow. It tied up the morning commute, and justifiably closed schools across the region. This storm was bruising winter weather maker, shutting down roads in South Dakota, Nebraska and Minnesota, and ushering in subzero temperatures on the back of 40mph winds, even if it wasn’t as big a storm as some people might have wanted.

This pattern has also been strong enough to bring about the first significant snowfall of the season to the I-95 corridor. Of course, the snow there was fairly light, otherwise it probably would have led local newscasts. What was more significant was that it was the first real snow, and March starts tomorrow. The warm weather will persist in the southeast, but a cooler pattern is forecast to continue as we roll into March.

Nowhere will it be unseasnably colder than on the West Coast, where southern California, notably the highlands around Los Angeles, received substantial snowfall at the end of February, accumulating in spots to over a foot. The force of the features coming onshore, unchecked by topography allowed the system to bring full force of wind ot the region as well, with blizzard warnings blanketing much of the Golden State.

The graphic at the top of the screen shows the snowfall coverage across the country, with an emphasis on the snow that has battered the United States to end the shortest month of the year. The As we enter March, of course, the emphasis will continue to focus on severe storms. They again are traversing the southern Plains tonight, with tornado warnings in the Dallas area. With cold in the west and warmth in the southeast only becoming magnified in the spring, expect more wild weather to continue.

January Forecaster of the Month

There is a huge, multiphase storm moving across the country. Essentially, only areas from the Mid Atlantic to Florida are going to be spared. There will be blizzard conditions in the north, severe storms through the middle of the country, and even snow squalls in the 4 Corners. It is brutal, and it’s continuing to go down hill. I am telling you this so you can look to the National Weather Service, who had the best start to the forecasting year, and are your January forecasters of the month.

Supercharged spring set up

Areas of low pressure rotate counter-clockwise, dragging air around them in such a pattern. When all things are equal, in the Northern Hemisphere, warm air rises from the south on the eastern flank of a low, and cold air sinks south on the western flank. There are some undulations, notably with topography and the presence of large bodies of water that modify this scenario in some locations, but more or less, that is how it works.

The most nefarious of our weather comes as the cold air tries to intersect with that warm air, all while the atmosphere is trying to rotate. There are updrafts caused by the cold digging in, latent buoyancy of the warmer air, and the twistiness of the wind pattern. This can mean rain, thunderstorms or even heavy snow. This is why the northern Plains can get wicked blizzards, and the Southern Plains and increasingly the lower Mississippi Valley are prone to strong thunderstorms and tornadoes.

We’ve already seen a busy start to February, with severe weather afflicting the Lower Mississippi Valley, and copious snows falling from Kansas to Iowa, though the southern Great Lakes. Temperatures, as you might imagine, have been fairly warm in the eastern US, with an unusual chill out west. Before these past few days, the cold was aided in part by Pacific systems coming ashore, bringing clouds and rain. Now, it’s simply a colder air mass.

Knowing that it is the clash in air mass that fuels stronger weather, and particularly when the clash is between western cold and southeastern warmth, the long term out look suggests action to come.

Whether in response to persistent lee troughing in the High Plains, or a result of a static jet pattern, this temperature trend for the end of the month and beginning of March indicates some busy times, both for tornado chasers centered in the middle of the country, and snow plows in the Upper Mississippi Valley.