Saturday, October 13, 2012

Is a rough winter in store for the Midwest in 2012-13?

Hold onto your hats everyone! Things just may be cranking up for one hell of a rough winter! How can I possibly know that when it's only October? Read on...

Mid October is now showing two clear trends (at least to me); copious precipitation across parts of the Midwest along with cooler than normal temperatures. Both these events lend support to global circulative observations that point to a strengthening ENSO (El Nino Southern Oscillation which had been neutral), and an AO (Arctic Oscillation) index that looks to be headed negative* big time. (Two important influences that could produce a clashing of very cold northern arctic air with moisture laden gulf winds right over the middle of the country as we head into December and January). Down here in southwestern Missouri, that translates as ice! (See earlier post on the Long Range Forecast).

Things to look for......

Early and increasingly frequent incursions of cold fronts as we get into November which clash with warmer than normal air coming up from the gulf states. In other words, look for some pretty dicey storms over states like Oklahoma, Kansas ans Missouri. These 'storms' will carry right on into December and January where some truly strange stuff may ensue.

How good is this prediction of mine, really?

Not very, as I have absolutely no credentials in the area of climate prediction or meteorology for that matter. Still, it will be interesting to see how things pan out. I'm either an idiot savant or just a plain idiot.

*Positive and negative phases of the Arctic Oscillation:
"The degree to which Arctic air penetrates into middle latitudes is related to the AO index, which is defined by surface atmospheric pressure patterns. When the AO index is positive, surface pressure is low in the polar region. This helps the middle latitude jet stream to blow strongly and consistently from west to east, thus keeping cold Arctic air locked in the polar region. When the AO index is negative, there tends to be high pressure in the polar region, weaker zonal winds, and greater movement of frigid polar air into middle latitudes." [A quote by NASA climatologist Dr. James Hansen].
Other factors that may come into play:

ENSO             Currently neutral (Oct) but heading towards positive state.
AO                  Headed towards negative – more Arctic incursions into Midwest
Solar               Solar insolation is currently declining, may be entering a Maunder Minimum.
Pollution         At record levels across Asia. (This has a cooling effect).
Volcanoes       Sixty five are currently erupting worldwide. (Normal).
Greenland       Melting at many times the normal rate. Could shut down deep hyaline conveyer belt.

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