It looks like my original winter forecast for roller coaster temperatures is playing out across our area. We've been going back and forth with temperatures since early December with a couple of periods of cold weather. The major problem with my forecast thus far has been the greater warmth than I expected. I felt the warm and cold would even out for the first couple of months but it hasn't. Our area averaged almost 5 degrees above normal in December and about 2 degrees above normal in January through the 16th. We are at the midway point of winter and the combined average is about 4 degrees above normal so far. After a near to slightly below normal temperature pattern this week, it appears we will see highs surging back into the 60s this weekend and the mild conditions are likely to persist through much of next week.
I keep looking for signs of a significant pattern change and it appears that I have found at least a couple. Typically, it requires a large upper high pressure ridge near Greenland to produce extended cold periods of more than a few days in our area. Long-range models are suggesting we may indeed see that develop by the end of January. Also, we are beginning to see the intense cold that has been sitting near the Arctic region getting pushed out. Some of that air will head to Asia but a piece of it should settle southward into the United States by early February. If the ridge does indeed develop near Greenland or the North Atlantic Ocean, that cold air will be able to plunge southeast into our area. Of course, it is too early to make that call but at least there are a few signs that point to a possible two or three week period of colder than normal weather starting late this month or in early February.
Snow is an even tougher call. We haven't seen any snow this season due to the lack of cold air and significant storm systems moving through the Southeast. Our chances for snow would improve if the ridge develops as expected at the end of January into at least part of February. The reason would be because the storm track that has been going through the Great Lakes would be suppressed further south. No guarantees but at least there would be a chance for the white stuff.
I'll have another winter update around the end of the month.