Thursday, December 10, 2015

Warm start to Dec 2015 has its benefits!

Graph comparing kilowatt power use
On this 10th day of December 2015, well into what is normally a pretty cold month, I'm seeing something very strange! A power use curve that is trending downwards! 

An exceptionally warm start for a month that normally averages out to 35 degrees, (this year it was currently at 46ºF) has made for all sorts of nice surprises, not the least among them a very low electric bill as the furnace has remained idle.

The trend is forecast to remain the same through the 14th, at which point my location here in SW MO is supposed to see something of a cool down with thunderstorms no less!

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Wx indicators point to a mild early December!

 While the Arctic Oscillation and North Atlantic Oscillation Indices (NO & NOA) can change without notice, it is still useful to see how they are trending. The AO Index measures 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. Right now it's positive.

The NOA Index can also swing towards a positive or negative value with the positive side tending to be associated with above average temperatures in the eastern United States! And that's a good thing!

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

And so the winter cool down begins!

As we pass by the portal of time that is called December the 1st, we can almost see the sun arcing lower in the southwestern skies each day as that day becomes a little shorter. Many species of birds and animals know that it's time to head south into warmer climes for the next three months while winter rages around the northern hemisphere. Us humans, well, we aren't so smart all the time!

So, come December, many of us are stuck with dealing with whatever the coming winter deals out. And, it generally gets colder and colder and colder. But, that's not always the case. December 2014, for instance, was one of the better early winter months that I can remember! For one thing the month was 4.4 degrees above normal. And, while the nighttime temperatures did get down to the 30's on a regular basis, there were only nine days where we say the 20's and they were the high 20's at that! Rainfall, and most definitely snowfalls were few and far between. Actually we did get 2.8 inches of rain and zero inches of snow! That put us 2 inches down for the month, but it really wasn't a big deal as we more than made up for it in the months that followed. Electrically, my home used a whopping 500 less kWh's when compared to the year before! And, those savings really helped me out!

So, for me it's all about the average temperatures and exactly where they go. December typically sees a monthly average for the highs and lows at about 35ºF, down where I live in southwest Missouri. Then, January slams in at an average of 33 degrees with February moderating only a bit up to 28! Heating my humble adobe, at an average outside temperature of 33ºF, translates to an electric bill of about 1200-1800 kWh's. At 13 cents per kilowatt hour that amounts to $156 to $234! Let me tell you, getting hit, in that manner, for each of those three months really mounts up for a person living on a fixed income as I do.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

It only goes downhill from here!

 December 2015 is fast approaching and that signals that it's a time to buckle on down and prepare for the winter! Think short days, long cold nights and frozen stuff falling from the skies on a regular basis.

Of course, the really bad stuff usually doesn't arrive early on. Generally, things really begin to get dicey right about Christmas Day. That's assuming that they get dicey at all! We've had years when the 21st came and went while experience mild conditions. But then there's always January!

This year finds me living at the bottom of a hill, literally. (In a sense, I've already gone down hill even before the weather got there)! But, that won't be a real problem if I make sure to stay put during any periods of inclement weather. And, if I do happen to venture out onto slick and icy roads, I'll want to make sure to get that adventure on video. You Tube viewers just love horrific accidents, and I can still use much less interesting slide offs and such, for my insurance company's use!

December will sometimes signal its intentions early on. Last year, it was only just cool at the start and got darn near warm by the 13th! That turned out to be a pretty decent month!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

First real cold wave of the 2015-15 season!

Daytime temperatures for November 21, 2015
Forsyth MO – Unlike some folks who look at cold waves with some trepidation, I was actually looking forward to the first cold wave of the season with eagerness. And, not because I have a thing for cold arctic air, I don't. Rather, I wanted to discover what the impact would be on my new condo I had recently moved into would be. It is a one bedroom, small affair that sported large sliding glass doors overlooking Lake Taneycomo from a third story level. My balcony where the glass doors were situated faced west and so would bear the brunt of gusty and very cold air that slammed into my southwestern Missouri adobe on the evening of November 21, 2015!

As you can see by the temperature graph, the weather event was fairly gradual during the day and then began to get colder after nightfall when the winds changed from the southwest to the northeast, gusting to 15 mph and more! I had retreated to my bedroom with a small Lasko space heater that was attached to a remote thermostat set for 74ºF (the built in space heater stat isn't very accurate). The furnace in the rest of the condo was turned down to 63ºF (a Nest controller) as I retired to the smaller space to watch TV and to browse the Internet. My bedroom was a space of about 13' x 12' x 8' high or a volume of about 1248 cubic feet. I figured, therefore, that a single small space heater would be sufficient to keep me warm.

As the day progressed, I noted that I was using power at about the rate of a kilowatt hour per hour. That trended out to 24 kWh's which would have been a good thing. And, in fact, the next morning my total use for the 24 hour period was only 27.1 kWh's! Not too shabby. However, that wasn't the end of it...
November 22 morning

The next morning, I arose at about 7AM and wandered out into the general living area of the condo. I noticed that the furnace was running and yet it still felt rather cold. A quick investigation turned up the reason why. Air, very cold air was infiltrating the base of both sliding glass doors! My infrared Kintrex temperature device indicated that the temperature at the base of the doors read near the freezing point! That was not a good thing. A quick check of my TED Energy Detective confirmed my fears. I had already used 12.47 kWh's since midnight! A rate that would jump my electrical use to over 42 kWh's, and in a very short order! I needed to do something and do it fast!

The solution, (the only one I had at that point), was to stuff towels along the base of the doors. Amazingly that change the spot recorded temperatures from the low thirties to a much more sane 54ºF! A figure I felt I could live with until I figure out a better alternative. [More on that later in the season]

All in all, this cold wave that came and went in the course of about thirty hours was a good test bed for me to get some idea of how well I would fair over the coming winter. I don't know about others, but if I can keep my electrical bills as low as possible, I'm a happy camper! 

Friday, November 20, 2015

A first touch of the coming winter season!

Forsyth MO – While Friday, November the 20th was forecast to be rather pleasant with temperatures in the mid 50's born on a southeast wind that was to be a bit breezy at times. Later in the afternoon hours, the NWS was predicting that clouds would begin to move in from the west as a sharpening frontal boundary moves toward southwest Missouri from the Plains.

As the front moves through towards midnight, they expect some rain to fall, although not that much. But, once that front does move through, they expect that gusty northwest winds will usher in a much colder air mass VERY quickly. Enough cold air could arrive to allow rain to end as a light rain/snow mix late tonight or early Saturday morning, although no accumulation of any sort was really expected. Oh boy!

This arctic high pressure system will therefore move into our area along about Saturday night, with winds becoming light and variable during the overnight period. This will set the stage for what is looking like the coldest night since March for our area. For the Springfield metropolis, if the temperatures drop below 20 degrees, it will be the first time we will have seen the teens since March 5th of this year. Further south, we can expect thing to not be so brutal!

Good News! The shot of cold will be rather short lived, as temps will rebound into the 40's for Sunday and then will get back in a more seasonal 50's regime as we begin the next work week!

As this shot of cold is in the form of a dress rehearsal (a one day thing), homeowners might want to download a checklist of smart thing to do prior to winter setting up in earnest. Things like getting your car serviced, checking to make sure all house water outlets have their hoses disconnected, checking crawlspace vents, etc.  []

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

November 21, 2015: An arctic blast?

While southwest Missouri has been given a nice late fall break through most of November, Saturday November the 21st will be a little bit of payback from Old Man Winter! (Apparently, he's nearby and perhaps getting just a bit antsy)!

The seasonal November weather regime we've all enjoyed will begin to move in to a more wintry mode beginning on Friday, November the 29th. Beginning that evening an area of low pressure will dive down across out area from out of the northwest. As moves overhead, moisture levels will be on the dry side, so the weather service is not too concerned about precipitation chances. Some people may see a few snow flurries, but there is no chance for any accumulation!

Right on the heels of the trough will be substantially colder air! Saturday will feel pretty crappy as temperatures will struggle to get out of the thirties! Any wind will only add insult to injury. Then, during the overnight hours, it will be very likely to see lows down in the twenties. It's even possible a few lucky individuals might get a dose of the teens! Holy Murgatroid!

The good news, short term, is that we will see temperatures warming back to seasonal levels (50's and 30's) as we enter the last week of November!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Warm temperature trends still holding in November 2015!

Nice, at least, down where I reside in southwest Missouri. The chart tells the story! It's been over nine degrees above the normal average with no change in site. More like spring than fall, for sure! As a matter of fact, a wide area of heavy rainfall was forecast for the central states with my little town of Forsyth right in the cross hairs!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Early November 2015 temperature trends!

November 2014 was a real roller coaster ride! I noted that the 17th was not a very nice fall day!

What's in store for the winter of 2015-16?

They say that no one can predict what the weather will do even a week or so down the road, so why am I taking a stab at predicting a whole season?

According to the Farmer's Almanac, the coming winter season here in southwest Missouri will be 'very snowy with typical temperatures'.

The Weather Channel sates, 'A colder than average winter may be on the horizon for portions of the Southwest, Southern Plains, Southeast and East Coast, according to a December 2015-February 2016 temperature outlook released by The Weather Channel Professional Division on Friday.

And then, there's this from the NOAA - 'Forecasters at NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center issued the U.S. Winter Outlook today favoring cooler and wetter weather in Southern Tier states with above-average temperatures most likely in the West and across the Northern Tier. This year’s El Niño, among the strongest on record, is expected to influence weather and climate patterns this winter by impacting the position of the Pacific jet stream.'

So what's the distillation of those three sources? I'd tend to sum them up by stating that it might be a good idea to invest in a snow shovel early on.... You can always check in at for up to the minute weather graphics and forecasts for southwest Missouri!

Friday, November 6, 2015

November 2015 starts out warm!

A  note from the log of the National Weather Service, posted on  222 AM CST SAT NOV 7 2015 read in part 'One final note, mean zonal westerlies are being shown through the extended forecast. This pattern will provide above normal temperatures for the Ozarks region through the foreseeable future. This is much different than years past heading into the cold season.'

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Just one more month to go!

The first of February 2015 is just a few days away, and to me, that marks the beginning of the end for winter! The sun will noticeably rise higher and higher about the horizon in the northern hemisphere and as it does, more and more energy in the form of solar insolence will reach the chilled earth.

Where I reside in southwest Missouri, the average temperature for February (as measured at the National Weather Service station in West Plains, MO) comes in at 38°F - with the average high is 48°F and the average low is 26°F. I use this location for temperatures and rainfall as Forsyth lies on about the same latitude and therefore shares much of the same climate. Rainfall will, hopefully be about 3 inches, although we certainly could use more! For anyone with an interest I have live climatic data available at

By the end of February, the many and varied signs of spring will be readily apparent as some trees and plants begin to blossom. I can hardly wait!