Welcome to the Winter page. Local and National data on snowfall amounts and temperatures will be posted here along with useful data for analyzing all that winter can bring. I hope you find the site helpful and interesting.

Monday, January 23, 2017

***SPECIAL*** La Nina is Here...Linked to Severe Weather

Good Monday morning. Normally, I have already typed my MikJournal Monday segment for you. Well, I wrote a special Sunday edition for that. You're welcome to look at that segment here on the blog.

Today, I wanted to talk about something that hasn't been given too much attention lately. La Nina. Some may scoff at it, because it's not as prominent as the El Nino. But, for ones who are concerned about severe weather seasons and hurricane seasons, this may be for you.

U.S. Annual Tornado Trends

A look at the chart above from the Storm Prediction Center shows the number of Local Storm Reports for tornadoes. You can click on the map to zoom in on the available years listed. But, the ones that stand out to me are the first 3 lines from the top: 2008, 2011, and 2010. These were all preliminary storm reports.

You can find the actual totals for 2008-2011 here. 
For 2011-2014 here
For 2014-the most current update here

But the years of 2008, 2011, and to some extent 2010 above are directly linked to La Nina years.

Ever since the last La Nina, the United States has recorded a less than average number of tornadoes.
But, already 2017 is starting out at a blistering pace, well above the 2005-2015 average.

And guess what? By next month, the 3-month running mean of the Oceanic Nino Index will place us in an official La Nina status. Ever since August, La Nina conditions have prevailed since ocean temperatures in the tropical Pacific have averaged at least -0.5 degrees C below the norm. It takes 5 consecutive 3-month running mean temperatures at or less than -0.5 C to upgrade from a condition to a status. Therefore, technically, we will have a La Nina status that will date back to August 2016.

For more information, I have provided a link of the ONI chart from this page.

I do believe that a very active tornado year has already commenced. As you saw from the actual tornado counts from the links above for 2008-present, several hundred tornado deaths were attributable to those La Nina years of 2008 and 2011.

There have already been tornado-related fatalities this month, a La Nina year (not officially yet). Do expect an active Spring season for severe weather.

2008 and 2011 were also characterized by an above average number of tropical cyclones in the Atlantic basin. I personally remember Hurricane Ike from 2008, a persistent cyclone that affected the United States. In fact, even after being downgraded from its tropical throne, it's original low pressure center combined with other atmospheric variables that produced destructive winds here in Kentucky. We had 70 mph winds and the sun was out. Some areas in Kentucky achieved hurricane-force winds in excess of 74 mph. Widespread tree damage and long-term power outages were the result.

I provided some video footage of its impacts on Louisville, KY...above.

Here is an excerpt from the NCDC Storm Data publication....
The remnants of Hurricane Ike moved across the Ohio Valley on the morning and afternoon of September 14th. This system,

along with an upper level trough and a surface cold front approaching the region, combined to bring very strong surface wind

gusts to the area. Widespread damage occurred with measured wind gusts up to 75 mph, along with 7 known injuries and 2

fatalities across parts of central Kentucky. Seventy-five percent of all Louisville Metro electrical customers - more than

300,000 homes and businesses - lost power for up to a week due to the storm, leaving many businesses and schools closed

during the week. Statewide, nearly 600,000 customers lost power due to the storm. Cost estimates were reported at around 10

million dollars across the Commonwealth, with 4.2 million of that in the Louisville Metro area alone. 33 counties in Kentucky

were declared major disaster areas by President Bush.

Ironically, the Storm Data publication seems to always display an Outstanding Storm of the Month. There were none for September 2008, probably since the destructive winds were brought about by the sunshine that helped translate the winds to the surface.

Again, bottom line. I am expecting a higher than average number of hurricanes in the Atlantic basin, some of which will impact the U.S. mainland.

This could be a destructive year for severe weather. Plan accordingly, yes, be prepared. Hopefully, La Nina will be given a little more attention than the brief spat I just presented to you today.


Sunday, January 22, 2017

MikJournal Monday 01/22/2017...Sunday Edition and Stats

I was walking my dog and wearing shorts Saturday evening. That is how mild it was in my neighborhood. Not too bad for the 3rd week of January.

In my forecast for January, I did highlight the 3rd week of January as being the 'thaw' period. But you know what? We have been in thaw mode for the past several days now.

After being confined to several days of below normal readings, including Arctic chill, earlier this month, we have bounced back in a large way. Temperatures for central Kentucky are now averaging between 6 and 9 degrees above normal for the month of January. That's impressive, considering that this normally is the peak period for the coldest temperatures of the winter.

Am I ready to say this could be a top ten warmest January for some of us?

Not yet. But, we still have today through Wednesday when temperatures will be averaging nearly 10 degrees above normal. That will keep most us in top ten warmest mode. How will the rest of the month fare?

For the most part, below normal temperatures will dominate the latter part of the month. However, it does not appear to be much below normal.

But here are the top ten warmest January's with the minimum entry required versus where we stand today.

Louisville....41.0 (41.0 as of today)
Lexington...40.7 (40.4 as of today)
Bowling Green 42.8 (44.3 as of today)

Is this just a regional fluke? Check out more temperature averages...

St Louis, MO (recent ice storm) 3.6 degrees above normal
Springfield, MO  5.7 degrees above normal
Chicago, IL 3.0 degrees above normal (includes a couple of zero degree mornings)
Milwaukee, WI 3.7 degrees above normal
Minneapolis, MN 1.5 degrees above normal (includes 7 mornings below zero)
Sault Ste Marie, MI  7.7 degrees above normal (and 20.7" snowfall this month so far)
Kansas City, MO  1.2 degrees above normal (includes 2 mornings at 0 or below)
Wichita, KS  2.0 degrees above normal (includes major ice storm)
Oklahoma City, OK  0.4 degrees above normal (yes, I know it doesn't sound like worth mentioning, but a morning low of -3 offset by a high of 79 just a few days later was indicative of how many swings in temperatures they received)
Little Rock, AR  4.4 degrees above normal
Huntsville, AL  11.1 degrees above normal
Chattanooga, TN  10.0 degrees above normal
Asheville, NC  7.6 degrees above normal
Harrisburg, PA 4.2 degrees above normal

I think you get the picture. Yes, we had winter in many of these places this month but was offset by a prolonged warm spell that has won out thus far.

I continue to blame the Arctic Oscillation, which has stayed neutral to positive since December. Long range forecasts keep the AO in positive territory through the first part of February.

Even though winter will make a comeback, Arctic temperatures do not look likely for the next 10-12 days. Snowfall for our region does not look promising, except the little nuisance snows that may provide some excitement based on what snows we have seen so far this winter. Believe me, it won't take much to get a back loaded winter after what we have experienced through the first half.


Friday, January 20, 2017

This is January, Right?

It looks like a duck, walks like a duck, it must be a duck. It feels like March, acts like March, so it must be...what, January? Huh?

Monthly temperatures are now averaging between 5 and 7 degrees above normal. And this includes that brutal stretch of cold we experienced earlier this month.

Rainfall amounts are well above average for the month too. That would be expected since the bulk of our measurable precipitation for January should be in the form of something frozen.

I want you to keep in mind that Alaska and Kentucky are interconnected more than you think, and I don't mean sharing statehood in these United States of America.

The other day on the 18th, Fairbanks recorded a high temperature of -41 degrees after bottoming out at -51. The low temperature was not even a record, since -61 was the record.

Still, the average temperature of -46 (add the high and low, then divide by two), was some 37 degrees below normal.

Transporter...beam me to somewhere in Kentucky. Our high temperatures have been averaging 10-20 degrees above normal recently, offsetting the Arctic chill earlier.

The connection? Typically, not always, when parts of Alaska are experiencing much below normal temperatures, our temperatures will be averaging above normal plus or minus a couple of days.

Now watch what happens over the next week or two. Eventually, Alaska will be recording above average readings, and guess where that should lead us? At the very least, to conditions that resemble winter, perhaps below normal for a time.

And the month of February may be able to exceed snow totals from January. However, we still have to get through the rest of January, since the end of the month could throw some surprises our way, yet.


Monday, January 16, 2017

MikJournal Monday 01/16/2017...Mid-Month Projection

Good Monday morning. Possibly you have the day off and good for you. Temperatures will be on the rise; although, for some, the highest temperatures for the day may not come until closer to midnight. Still, above normal.

Well, it has rained 6 consecutive days. During that time period, though, rainfall amounts have generally been tame. Remember last Monday in my MikJournal, I saw forecasts for 2.5 - 4.5" for the week. So, how did we do?

I took a sampling of several Mesonet sites and official observations. Generally we received 1.5 - 2.0" for the week. So, the ground was not overly saturated, and rivers and lakes were not overly high.

Our region came close to a major ice storm just west and northwest of us. The only ice accumulation I could find for the region was in far western Kentucky. Sturgis, in Union County, received about 0.1" and Carrsville, in Livingston County, received 0.05".

The latest amounts from the hard-hit areas include Missouri, Oklahoma, and Kansas, where 0.50" amounts were common across those states. Some of the leading energy providers have reported some outages, though this is not a widespread problem. This does not compare to anything our region experienced in February 2009, when many Kentucky residents did not have power for at least 4 or 5 days, some up to 2 weeks.

The forecast rainfall amounts for the week ending next Monday morning from the Weather Prediction Center is a widespread 2-3" statewide, with locally heavier amounts, especially south.

No snow or ice is expected.

Temperatures will be above average for the week. And I do mean way above average. My January prediction for below normal temperatures this month looks to be in jeopardy, thanks largely in part to the Arctic Oscillation, which stubbornly refuses to dip below the negative line. Typically, a negative AO will favor a colder climate pattern for our region. We just have not had that.

The middle of the month storm that got me excited ended up being the ice storm that hit just west of us. And the January thaw..., well, after the first stretch of brutal cold, we have been in thaw and blowtorch mode ever since.

At this time, I am projecting our region will have widespread above average temperatures for the second consecutive month of this meteorological winter. Snow chances may make a comeback by the last of the month, but right now, I am just not that impressed with the setup for colder air and snow opportunities.

The last Euro model run does show temperatures coming back down to normal or slightly below normal by the 24th. After the 26th, colder air and snow chances will be moving in. But, remember, that is still 10 days out. So far, forecasts are just not panning out. They have all trended warmer.

The AO needs to go negative. The NAO and EPO, two leading indicators are not quite aligning themselves to support snow chances for our region by the 26th.

By this time next week, I should be able to say with some certainty whether or not snow chances could be realized after the 26th. But right now, I would not expect anything more than a few flurries before then.

I am not thinking about February yet. Until I see a change in the overall pattern, a few days of cold will continue to be offset by warmer episodes. Go AO, think negative.

Have a good week.