Saturday, December 8, 2012

Why Isn't It Snowing?

Another week of winter gone by, and another week without significant snow or the signs of significant snow. Ho hum. This whole no snow thing is starting to feel dreadfully similar to last year. This year and last year we had the blockbuster late October/early November storms followed by a fallow period of considerable length. Last year the dead weather pattern lasted almost the entire winter, and this year we've endured over an entire month of zippidee-doo-dah on the ol' storm front.

Do not sell your stock in GSD. We repeat, do not sell your stock. We'll definitely see our share of storms this year. November was one of the driest months on record, but the wet weather we've had this week is an encouraging sign.

I'm sure a few Grinches out there are quite content with another winter of no sliding, no winter radials, and no snowball fights, but we know you're not one those social misfits. Still, you must be wondering...where in the Sam Hill is the snow?? Await no longer--here's your official GSD answer:

1. The West Coast Trough: Problem number one is that there's a size XL trough of low pressure hanging out there off the coast pumping plenty of moisture into that region. Unfortunately, that trough leads to problem number 2:

2. An Eastern Ridge: With the trough in the West, in the East we get a ridge. This ridge is allowing warm air to stream in from the Gulf, and it is keeping the cold air to our west and north. There's plenty of storminess on the East, but because the air is so warm we're stuck in a wet pattern.

3. The Jet Stream: The Jet stream flows west to east. The typical winter pattern that creates storms is a giant U-shape that covers the US. The upper left of the U starts in the Northwest and dips down towards the Texas/Mexico border then comes up the Appalachians. This is the shape of the jet stream that leads to nor'easters. Right now our jet stream is simply too high--the bottom of the U barely touches the top of Kansas and the right side of the U is too flat.

Notice the "U" in the northern plain states and the southwesterly flow towards New England.
So...what needs to happen? Once that low pressure trough shifts eastward, the ridge will push eastward,  and that will push the cold air/warm air line to our east. Once the cold air starts to move in from Canada, we'll see a significant increase in our winter weather. Sadly, it looks like we'll see the first fruits of the trough/ridge shift during the late December holiday break. At this point, however, any storm is a good storm. We need to break the ice, so to speak, in order to prime the pump to get the winter storm engine chugging along. Toot, toot!

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