Good morning from the weather center and happy Tuesday! So this is no joke I’ve had 6 people text me the link to the weather channel February forecast, needless to say its been entertaining. Over the last 2 days I’ve looked at everything known to man to come up with my February forecast. I’ve looked into the MJO, the BSR. Previous years like this one, all the models, latest El Nino state, I even took an average of the last 5 El Nino February s in Indy for temps and snow. The years 2003,2005,2007,2010,2015 are all El Nino February’s. Below I will give you my reasoning behind my forecast and why once again Im going “against the grain”.
AVERAGE OF THE LAST 5 EL NINO FEB TOTAL SNOW: 14.7″
AVERAGE OF THE LAST 5 EL NINO FEB TEMP DEPARTURE: -5.92°F
First thing is first we obviously know there is a ~8 day warm streak coming and I understand that can be painful in the 2nd half of winter. With that being said at this time last year we were only at 5.8″ of snow where as this year we are sitting at 7.2″ of snow. So the argument of no Winter should be a distant memory at this point. Here is that warm up we have talked about for awhile now. Its even possible temps get into the upper 50s next Tuesday before an extremely powerful cold front plows through (This happened in Feb of 2003 and it went on to produce 21.7″ of snow).
When I say powerful cold front this is what temp departures from normal look like from latest GFS/GEM models this morning after that front early next week passes. It could even spawn some strong storms that change over to snow and lead to flash freeze conditions! After this system ~3rd of Feb the bottom falls out and the pattern changes drastically.
Now beyond this we have several things at play that are working in our favor that will help flip February to a very active and cold month in my opinion and I think it even goes into March easily. First is the forecast of the MJO to go through phases 5,6 and 7. These are all cold phases in strong El Nino years. If you were to look at these phases WITHOUT factoring in El Nino you would get a warm signal (Likely where the weather channel has gone wrong). This is the look of surface temps you would get in these phases. The European and the Brazilian models both agree on the evolution of the MJO teleconnection forecast adding to my confidence in the overall lower 48 impacts.
Second thing in our corner is the SSWe (Sudden stratospheric warming event) aka the displacement of the polar vortex. The same thing that has happened here the last 2 Februarys. Right now a weak wave is working on the polar vortex but we are now watching a significantly stronger wave beating at the polar vortex that may even split it (January 2014). What this means in simple terms is that high latitude blocking looks to come back stronger than ever this season and Arctic air looks to really load up and be dislodged south into the US during Feb/Mar.
Third thing in our corner is the weakening El Nino and how the warmest waters are now west based in the central Pacific. I have explained what this means since August to clients. Essentially the upward vertical motion is going west and the direct result is to pull the Aleutian low west resulting in more ridging in the Pacific NW. Good for snow and cold in Feb and Mar.
Fourth thing in our corner is looking at past February’s like the one coming. Analog years is what they are called. Right now the year that’s standing out to me just from a 500mb pattern (upper air) perspective is 2010. Notice how the forecast models resemble that of 2010. Look at where surface temps were in 2010 and snow also.
Fifth thing in our corner is the Bering sea and whats going on out there. The colder and stormier look can easily be found there and its obvious in this animation of the European model below. These individual storms are showing up about every 5 days and right now that would mean we are watching for pretty decent snow chances around the 5th/10th/15th/20th/25th of February now obviously give or take days here. Its the pattern we are sniffing out and the specifics come later to zone/commercial clients.
Sixth thing in our corner comes from the JMA and EURO weeklies. They simply advertise a very active and somewhat cold pattern in Feb. The latest ECMWF weekly update suggested portions of the Ohio valley could see ~20″ of snow next 32 days. Again this is an IDEA.
So you’re telling me there is even more support to a colder and active February?
Final piece to the puzzle here is looking at the EXCAM model put together by a gentlemen known as Al Marino he holds a masters degree in meteorology and has put together his own model site that essentially takes the CPC outlooks and extends them. Here is the EXCAM idea for February temps.
So what are my final thoughts for February 2016? I think we are 2-3°F colder than normal and that very well may be very conservative honestly. I also think we are about 225% of the normal snowfall of 6.5″ meaning I think we are in the ballpark of ~15″ if all goes to plan. Just remember there is always the “what could go wrong factor” and those are explained to clients in our videos.
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