Looking Ahead: Winter Finally Coming?

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By Quincy Vagell on December 18, 2012, 4:00pm Last modified: December 20, 2012, 9:33am

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There has been a lot of talk about a possible pattern change. What does this mean? Well, we've been locked into a relatively mild and wet pattern. With the month of December almost over, many want to know when winter might really arrive.

The image above is the Day 8 GFS forecast. The dates on the right correspond to "analogs." This means that the given forecast closely matches up with historical weather maps from those dates.


The first date that jumps out is December 29th, 2010. Even when looking at the Day 5 GFS, the date that comes up is December 28th, 2010. This was on the heels of a winter storm and we all know how snowy the winter of 2010-11 finished up.

Not so fast...
Although this is true, the days following December 29th, 2010 turned milder. In fact, both Bradley Airport and New Haven reached 45 degrees on the 31st of that month. By the 1st and 2nd of January, high temperatures were in the upper 40's to lower 50's.

What's going on?
Although a series of low pressure systems (Friday and potentially December 27th) are projected to bring some colder air into the Northeast, that doesn't mean that winter is going to magically flip a switch on.
***It's likely that without strong upstream blocking, the cold air will eventually spin around and allow for moderating temperatures towards the end of this month.***

Any other analogs?
Compared to the Day 5 GFS, the two dates that most closely match the 500mb pattern are December 4th, 1980 and November 28th, 2009. Both dates saw moderating temperatures within 2-3 years and December 2009 turned very mild. Bradley Airport reached an astonishing 67F on December 3rd of that year and the 4th was 65F.

Image below is the Day 8-10 forecast from the Euro and GFS:
My interpretation of this map is that although we may get shots of cold air, the pattern doesn't scream all that wintry to me. Notice the positive height anomalies across Canada on both models. Although some chilly air is displaced south, it's likely to be modified (not as cold) when it gets here and then only stays for a couple of days before scooting out. This also matches up with the three analogs mentioned above.

Will January finally turn wintry?
I'm having my doubts, but it's very difficult to make an accurate long-range prediction like that. Gil is still a firm believer that winter may finally return later on in January.

Stay tuned to WXedge.com for the latest forecasts and discussions.
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Quincy Vagell

Town: Marlborough, CT  

Reporting for WXedge since January 2012.

Articles: 873

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