Winter Outlook Updated
Posted on December 28, 2011 at 11:37 AM
For all those snow lovers that were hoping for a white Christmas, that didn’t happen. And it looks like December is a good indication of how the rest of this winter season will go. It is still early in the season, but it is looking more and more likely we will have a warm and wet winter.
And here is why: Winter conditions across the upper part of the United States are determined by the strengthening of pressure systems around the Arctic. When pressure systems are weak, cold air that is normally trapped flows southward, resulting in extreme winter conditions for the US. In 2010 and 2011, that was the case. This year, arctic high pressure systems are trapping all the cold air up north.
Take a look at the two maps. One shows warmer than average temperatures over January, February and March and the other shows precipitation. These two maps show we are going to have a warmer than average start to the year and a wetter than average start as well.
Since the Arctic Oscillation, an atmospheric pattern of the northern latitudes is so hard to predict, meteorologists only know that milder temperatures will continue through mid-January. This doesn’t mean we won’t get snow, it just means we won’t see a harsh winter like we did in 2010 and 2011.