Record Low Arctic Ice

February 9, 2011

I keep an eye on the National Snow/Ice Data Center website from time to time and noticed this: both December and January had the lowest ever ice extent for those months. 

Now I fully realize that  “ever” is since satellite records began in 1979.  But note that while some parts of the mid-latitudes (eastern USA and western Europe) have seen a rough winter, most of the Arctic has been unusually warm this winter, like the Western USA (for part of the winter at least).  A great discussion related to it on the link here:  Arctic Oscillation brings record low January extent.  Is the AO totally overwhelming the La Nina effects this winter here in the Pacific Northwest?   Something to discuss at least.  Try to avoid the usual cliches please and keep it about the data.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen


Winter Returns Next Week

February 9, 2011

The January numbers are in all across the country and no surprise.  The eastern 1/2 to 2/3rds of the USA were chilly, and temps were warmer than normal across the West.  As discussed in previous posts, that was due to a near-constant western upper-level ridge after the first few days of the month.  But after 5-6 weeks of weather boredom; the pattern changes dramatically for the last half of February.

Here’s a look at the 6-10 day forecast anomaly of 500 mb. heights.  That’s about 18,000′ up.

You can see the large negative anomaly over the far Eastern Pacifc and Western USA.  We haven’t seen this since late December, so finally we’ll get some good snows in the mountains.  Foothill locations (1,000-2,000′) will probably see snow by Wednesday as snow levels come way down.  We haven’t seen snow to the lower elevations in 5 weeks! 

So to the average member of the public; winter will be “back” next week with lots of rain, snow into the foothills, and lots of mountain snow.

For us weather geeks wanting more (snow in lowest elevations)?  I don’t see a setup that would bring widespread snow to the lowest elevations YET.  No big blast of arctic air, but some close calls for sure.  We’ll all be watching the maps more closely next week than we have in the last 5!

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen