Thursday, December 31, 2015

MikJournal January 2016 Prediction

Welcome to a special edition of my MikJournal page. If you are not familiar with the winter page, I will be posting a monthly report for each of the winter months December, January, and February.

In Review

December 2015 was a warm one, into the record books for one of the warmest Decembers on record. Also, it was a wet month, ranking again in the top ten wettest Decembers.

El Nino has had its footprint in a few locations nationwide but did not line up with what one would normally expect from a typical El Nino. But, we are just beginning, right?

Record warmth was also noted across Florida, where below normal temperatures are expected along with above normal precipitation for the winter. It's going to take quite a reversal to offset the anomalous warmth of December.

In fact, other areas of the south that are expecting overall below normal temperatures and above normal precipitation were very balmy, even by their standards. Mobile AL, Baton Rough LA, and Houston TX averaged between 5 and 9 degrees above normal for temperatures and well above normal for precipitation.

Overall, I was pleased with my December prediction, which highlighted no Arctic outbreaks, balmy temperatures, and severe weather chances. However, I think it was a little too warm and wet than even I had anticipated. But, what about going forward into the month of January?

January Prediction

The month of January appears to offer a major dose of reality. After an unusually warm start to the winter, January is offering a plate of at least typical winter fare.

One of my biggest arguments in favor of colder air is the alignment of the teleconnections AO, NAO, EPO, and the PNA. During the month of December, the Keeper of the Cold', the AO, stubbornly refused to dip much below neutral for the entire month; therefore, the coldest air remained locked in place in the Arctic region for the most part though spilling modified Arctic air into the western U.S. However, the eastern part of the United States enjoyed warmth, the typical trough west /ridge east pattern formed by the -PNA teleconnection working in conjunction with a positive AO, NAO, and largely EPO.

Now, the PNA has reversed for the time being. +PNA, or a ridge west/trough east will be working in harmony with the reversal of the negative AO, NAO, and EPO. However, the jury is still out on how the NAO will perform over the longer time frame.

Nevertheless, transport of cold, Arctic air will be available for much of the eastern part of the United States. Any long term cold will depend on how negative the NAO can become. We need a blocking pattern near Greenland to help pave the way for the Siberian Express and keep the cold train well oiled.

Otherwise, I am expecting cold shots of Arctic or modified Arctic air to be interspersed with some nice, seasonal weather with some above average readings. Now, I am not talking about the same kind of air we had in December, so let me be clear about that.

Well, if there is going to be cold air in place, what about snow chances?

The chances are higher that we will be looking at wintry weather for January, especially in comparison with December, right?

A persistent northwest flow will at times cut off the Gulf's moisture supply. But, remember, El Nino is notorious for affecting jet streams, most notably, the southern or subtropical jet. An active southern jet working in harmony with another teleconnection called the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO) is expected, especially around the middle of the month.

In fact some of the maps I have been studying show a split flow regime where the polar jet and the southern jet are separated initially but then come close enough (or phase) to form a blockbuster storm. I am predicting at least 2 of these systems for the month, primarily near and after the middle of the month.

Right now, I cannot say what the dominant air mass will be when these 2 systems approach our region. You know how it is if you live in Kentucky. It seemingly appears to be a constant battleground between the precipitation types. There are 3 scenarios I foresee if these systems do try and phase the two jet streams.

First, cold air in place, phasing just west: This would not be good. Cold air with overrunning warm air can only spell trouble for the region, ice to rain back to rain/snow and all snow.

Second, mild air in place with low pressure tracking nearby or phasing just north: A rain or rain/snow mix transitioning to all snow after frontal passage.

Third, cold air in place, phase just south: This would result in greatest snow chances for our region but perhaps a bad ice storm for parts of the unprepared south.

Unfortunately, due to El Nino's warm influence and an indecisive NAO, I cannot fully support #3 at this time.

Therefore, I am leaning more toward the second solution, mild air in place with a rain or rain/snow mix transitioning to rain then rapidly changing to all snow after cold air infiltration with some accumulations..

I am not saying that if both systems do evolve, they will be twins of one another thereby producing the same kind of weather for the region. I do expect one system to offer a warmer solution than the other.

Now, if the NAO can stay mostly negative, that could alter this forecast. The second solution above still looks good though, because we do not want a phasing to occur too far south or else our region will mostly miss out on the biggest snows. However, it is more probable for parts of the state (south to southeast) to see significant snowfall than the northern half.


January's temperatures should range between near normal to below normal, despite what the CPC says about an above normal temperature pattern.

Precipitation will depend on types. Right now, I am leaning toward below normal, no matter what types of precipitation we have. A colder air mass will yield much below normal precipitation while a milder air mass will yield a better result though still below normal.


Monday, December 28, 2015

MikJournal Monday 12/28/15

Just a few days left in this record-setting year of 2015. Right now, I am trying to come up with as many words that start with the letter 'W' to describe the year's 'W'eather.... Let's see.

'W'ambunctious...Okay, how did he get in here?

Well, anyway, this looks to be a memorable year, with all of the cold and snow we had...mostly late in the season, though. Still, February finished at #7 in the top ten coldest February's on record in Louisville. In fact, while there are no records for this category, February has also been the windiest month of the year, coming in at an average  speed of 9.9 mph. A few of those windy days came when the surface temperatures were already bone-chilling. Here are a few examples...

On Valentine's Day, Louisville had a wind gust of 44 mph when the high temperature was 38 and the low was 12.

On February 18, the high temperature was 24 and the low was 4. There was a recorded wind gust of 36 mph and an average speed of about 15 mph.

The very next day, we only reached 11 degrees while the bottom dropped out at -3 for an overnight low. Still, there was a 25 mph wind gust along with an average speed of 10.4 mph.

On March 5 in Louisville, we had a  top ten record snow depth of 10". March 4th was also the 5th snowiest March day on record at 8.3".

February had its 10th snowiest month on record at 10.9" and March had its 6th snowiest month of March at 11.9". In addition, that amount would prove to be Louisville's 7th heaviest snowfall on record, covering the March 4-5 time frame.

Thanks to that snowy March, the Spring of 2015 went into the record books as the 6th snowiest Spring on record at 11.9".

On the other hand, Louisville looks to finish in the top half of the top ten warmest December's on record, to go along with November's #5 ranking.

The autumn of 2015 finished #6 in the warmest Autumn season on record category.

Believe it or not, despite February's record cold and a ho-hum summer, with only 38 days in the 90's for Louisville, we should still see a top ten finish in the warmest years on record category.

How about wet? Was it wet or was it wet?

In Louisville, we recorded our 4th wettest day on record and the wettest April day ever on April 3 with 5.64".

Louisville also achieved a top ten wettest month in April (#3)  and July (#7). As of this morning, we have moved into the top ten wettest month for December, with more rain projected to come.

We have yet more top ten earners....The Spring season of 2015 came in at #7 wettest on record and the Summer season of 2015 came in at #5.

Also, as of this morning, and not surprisingly, we are at #4 in  the wettest years on record category.

As far as this year in review, at least for now, in the words of Porky Pig, "That's all folks."


Friday, December 25, 2015

MikJournal Holiday Post 12/25/15

Record warmth continues to dominate the eastern part of the U.S.
Temperatures for the month have averaged 10-15 degrees above normal for the upper Great Plains, Midwest, Northeast, and our part of the world.
Snow Nazi says "No snow for you, come, in a few days or so." Okay. So no white Christmas for many of us in eastern North America. But, changes are coming, soon.

Currently, U.S. snow cover is at 37.2%. Despite all of the warmth for the east, there is more snow cover this December 25 than last year at this time when it was 35.5%.

When was the last time over 50% of the country had snow on the ground?

You gotta go back to 2012, yes, the warmest year on record for Louisville and definitely a top ten favorite for others in this great state. Some 51.1% of real estate was covered in white. There were a slew of other years in that general time period of December 25 when over 50% of the country saw white.

2010 - 50.2%
2009 - 63.0%
2008 - 52.7%

Believe it or not, the last time we in Louisville and Lexington saw a white Christmas, with measurable snow on the ground, was 2010. Now, in 2012, we did not have a white Christmas, but it did snow a few days later as we approached the end of the year.

My December Prediction I made during the last week of November included balmy weather and also severe weather chances for the end of the month. The MikJournal January Prediction comes out later around the 29th or 30th. It's looking like a colder month (about time!) but what about snow chances? Find out that along with my thoughts about how the overall winter season could be progressing with El Nino's footprint seemingly everywhere.


Thursday, December 24, 2015

MikJournal Case for Top Ten Warmest Year on Record for Louisville 2015

Yes, it has been a wet year, definitely a top ten earner. This December will be among the warmest on record, something a few are beginning to talk about now.

But, I have not heard or read anyone mentioning that this could be a top ten warmest year on record for Louisville. We should not only break into the top ten but may register as high as #5 on the list.

Perhaps it should not surprise you that 2015 could become a top ten inductee for warmest year on record, because 2007, 2010, 2011, and 2012 are among past inductees, 2012 having the distinction of warmest year ever.

But, here's what may surprise you....

#1 - 2012  60 days with temperatures >=90 for the year.
                 10 of those days >=100 degrees

#2 - 2007  67 days >=90 degrees
                   5 days >= 100 degrees

#5 - 2011  56 days >=90 degrees
                   5 days >=100 degrees

#6 - 2010   85 days >=90 degrees
                    4 days >=100 degrees

2015 has recorded only 38 days at or above 90 degrees. Guess how many days were above 100 degrees?

Zilch, nada, the big goose egg.

Yet, my current projection has 2015 beating out the #6 spot held by the year 2010 and will pose a strong challenge for #5 shared by 2011 and 1990.

Currently, the 2015's average temperature ranks #5. However, we still have a week to go. Yet, temperatures are expected to range well above average for December during the short term before attempting to return to slightly elevated values by year's end.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Tornado Watch for Western Kentucky

Storm Prediction Center says two lines of strong to severe storms should impact the shaded areas. The Watch goes through 6pm est.

Currently, there have been a few reports of wind damage near St Louis.

We, who are east of this Watch box, need to pay special attention to this setup of two lines. If, and I do mean if, we are able to develop some instability, the first line could have impacts, possibly related to isolated tornadoes. Otherwise, the first line could just have pockets of heavy rain that may preclude severe weather along the second line.

This looks to be a complicated storm system as far as severe weather chances. Best chances reside west and south of our region of central Kentucky.

Timing the storms' arrival so far is poor. Models slow the whole line now. But a vigorous squall line may speed things along. The earlier that storms can arrive, higher severe weather risks.

Nowcast event underway.


More Records Possible

I cannot remember too many Decembers in my lifetime that has been this warm overall. I am not talking about a day here or there that set a record high. I am not even talking about a regional thing with a few days in record high territory. This has been nearly a month-long event.

Fargo ND - over 13 degrees above average for the month.
International Falls MN - over 15 degrees above average with not a single day below zero yet this month. And they are supposed to be the Icebox Capital of the United States (there is still debates raging over that one).
Sault Ste Marie MI - over 12 degrees above average with just over an inch of snow for the month.
Buffalo NY - almost 11 degrees above average. With barely a flinch, the lake-effect snow machine has basically been shut down eeking out a robust 0.1".

In addition to a top ten wettest years on record, Louisville will be flirting with at least top ten warmest Decembers and a shot at a top ten warmest year on record. Oh forgot to mention, but Louisville will possibly break more local daily records as well before the month is over.


Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Projection Time: Louisville's Winter Temperatures

Ok. Try and follow me here. The logic and numbers may seem distorted, so you might need a pencil and paper to help. Remember, though, these are just projections, not anything set in stone.

My winter outlook simply says that Louisville and surrounding region would be milder than the previous two winters.

In Louisville, the last two winters of December through February averaged at least 3 degrees below normal. Right now, or as of December 14, Louisville is averaging over 10 degrees above normal.

Today and tomorrow we should see readings at least 10 degrees above normal. Even though below normal temperatures are expected for 2 or 3 days later this week, we're only talking about 3-4, 5 degrees maximum of below normal values. Then, we go right back up from there, averaging more than 5 degrees above normal for a stretch of a few days.

As you can see, I am highlighting more higher 'above normal' readings than 'below normal' readings. In other words, we don't have 10 degrees above normal one day and 10 degrees below normal the next day. But, we might have days of 10 and 12 degrees above normal versus a couple of days of 4 or 5 degrees below normal. The 10 and 12 quite simply overwhelm the 4 or 5  so that the average remains above normal.

Now, for the sake of argument, let's assume that after today and tomorrow with double-digit temperatures above normal, the rest of the month, every day, the high temperature and low temperature met its normal value. What would be the result?

December would still finish 5-6 degrees above normal, not too far from top ten warmest Decembers on record status.

That means January and February would need to average about 8 degrees below normal per month for my outlook to be wrong.

I guess it could still happen, but I am already expecting a concession speech from Old Man Winter already.


Monday, December 14, 2015

MikJournal Monday 12/14/15

Well, we're just about to the halfway point of the month. Wow. What a month! I really like this warmer than usual air. Don't get me wrong, because I'm a snow lover. But, I also enjoy outdoor activities while basking in a measure of the comfort of spring. Bonus weather, right? Don't fret, winter's coming, right?

Ok, yes it is finally looking like we will see some December weather by the end of the week...briefly.

My winter overview and December Prediction highlighted the balmy weather mixed with a cold shot here and there, though not of Arctic origin.

Looking forward to the rest of the month, I am still expecting average to above average temperature readings just like I said late last month.

But, I also mentioned severe weather chances for the end of the year. The jury is still out on that one, but with above average temperatures, a colder air mass is bound to collide with that one, possibly causing some stormy issues.

I have been harping on teleconnections for a while. The AO, NAO, and EPO need to be negative for true lasting cold air to take place. Currently, there are no signals yet showing this alignment.

In addition, the current CPC 8-14 day outlook has the entire U.S. in a higher probability for above average temperatures, again.
This takes us through the 27th.

As far as wintry weather worth talking about, honestly I don't foresee any serious contender until either side closest to the 2nd week of January...I guess around the 7th -12th. But, that's for another post. My January Prediction comes out later this month.


Saturday, December 12, 2015

Rare Cooling Degree Days in December

Cooling Degree Days? Perhaps you have heard of it. Heating Degree Days and Cooling Degree Days are useful in helping to determine energy demands along with other factors when moving to another location.

It is based on a standard numerical value of 65 degrees. A high temperature and low temperature are added together and divided by two for the day's average temperature. If the average temperature is < 65, then a heating degree day is computed based on the difference between the standard and the actual average.

For example, if the day's high temperature is 60 and the day's low temperature is 40, then the average is 50 (60 + 40 = 100; divide by 2 = 50). Since the average temperature of 50 is less than 65, heating degree days are applied, in this case, 15 Heating Degree Days.

But, in Louisville, the day's high temperature was 73 degrees. Let's assume that the low temperature for today will be 65 degrees, since today has not officially ended until midnight. It was actually 66 early this morning but may push slightly lower just before midnight soon.

If we add 73 and 65, this equals 138; divide by 2 and we get a 69 degree average. Since the average value is higher than 65, cooling degree days are applied, in this case, 4 Cooling Degree Days.

It is very rare to obtain an average temperature of greater than 65 degrees in Kentucky during the month of December. Louisville typically averages 1 Cooling Degree Day for the month. But most years, we simply record zero.

The last December we recorded Cooling Degree Days was in 2012, also 4 CDD's. Since 2000, including the year 2012, during the past 15 years, we in Louisville have recorded a total of 5 CDD's, not counting any CDD's that will be computed by tomorrow morning.

Sunday, it is possible we may record a very rare second consecutive day of Cooling Degree Days for the month of December.

The record for CDD's in Louisville for December is 8, set in 1982, yes another El Nino year. Two consecutive days of average temperatures greater than 65 degrees were achieved.

I do not know if Louisville will be able to tie or break the mark set in 1982, but it will be close.

Another record that may be in jeopardy is the all-time high temperature for December here in Louisville, which is 76. It would be quite coincidental if Louisville should tie the all-time high temperature and the all-time Cooling Degree Days records on the same day in December.


Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Winter is Coming...Sure It Is, Uh Huh

We keep hearing about cold air poised to invade our region of Kentucky soon. While the coldest air continues to dance to our north and expected to penetrate into the western part of the U.S., it sure appears likely that it will overtake us very soon.

Then, just when it seems like this is the cold front to do it, forecast temperatures are now expected not to be that cold, yes cooler than the 15-25 degrees above average we'll be experiencing this week, but not THE cold front to usher in wintertime cold.

What's going on? I have not read or heard too many meteorologists out there talk about the Arctic Oscillation lately, a familiar teleconnection that gave name recognition to the overhyped Polar Vortex from a couple of years ago.

Instead I read about EPO's, which by itself cannot guarantee the cold air we need. It needs to be used in conjunction with PNA and AO and the closely related NAO.

Once these teleconnections align themselves, then we can start talking about cold air. Right now, as one should surmise by now, these teleconnections are not quite aligned yet.

This is the time of year I turn my attention to the Arctic Oscillation index. Because the stormy low pressure area has been centered over the Arctic region somewhat persistently as of late, a rather mild stretch of weather has occurred here while the Arctic cold has been confined to its home base.

But signals are beginning to show a possible flip in that pattern. At the very least, the Arctic region will begin to see higher heights in terms of the average geostrophic 500mb reading. Think of it as high pressure in the Arctic. But a troughy pattern will begin to ensue for the middle latitudes where we are.

Therefore, the strong, stormy winds that were keeping the coldest air locked up in the Arctic will ease thereby allowing chunks of cold air to sink south. Then when the troughy conditions in the middle latitudes come to be, the interaction will help transport more of the real cold stuff toward the northern US.

In addition, a familiar pattern we have seen before will happen again. The Greenland Block is expected to develop and strengthen by the end of the year. This will make cold air transport even easier.

The ideal teleconnection combination involving the EPO, AO, and NAO would be -EPO, -AO, -NAO if you like really cold air here.

Nevertheless, I strongly caution that this is a strong El Nino winter. It is possible that such blocks will not be able to be sustained over a prolonged period of time. I am still expecting much variability in our winter weather.


* The term geopotential should have been used instead of geostrophic.
(12/13/15 - MS)

Monday, December 7, 2015

...Where Two Oceans Meet???

Have you ever seen the picture below?

It's a picture taken in the Gulf of Alaska. The picture is said to represent where two bodies of water merge but not actually mix.

Actually, the lighter-shade of blue represents glacial sediment containing iron that is flowing from one of Alaska's rivers into the Gulf of Alaska. While the snapshot seems to depict a boundary or demarcation separating the two, they eventually do mix and the sediment line is not stationary.

There are actually several of these 'where two oceans meet' phenomena. Here is another...


In this case above, we call this a confluence of two rivers. Also, the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers results in a similar phenomenon...

Confluence of Ohio and Mississippi Rivers at Cairo, IL
taken from Earth Observatory


MikJournal Monday 12/07/15

Good morning. The first week of December is coming to an end. Our region has experienced 1-2 degrees above average temperatures and near average precipitation.

The rest of this week features a warmer than average scenario resembling late October or early November readings. That translates to temperatures running at least 10-15 degrees above average!

However, by the end of the week, signs of change will already be looming. A shock to the senses with a heavy dose of meteorological reality is expected to overcome this sweet pattern.

The gatekeeper of the Arctic, the Arctic Oscillation teleconnection, is expected to trend toward neutral and slightly negative after a tremendous run of positive readings. What does that mean for us?

Well, recently, some in our region dealt with low temperatures in the teens. This was modified Arctic air, since the AO was still neutral to slightly positive during that time. In addition, some saw their first snowflakes of the season.

With a neutral to slightly negative AO, a taste of true Arctic air will make a run at the United States. How far south that air mass can make it remains to be seen.

At the very least, temperatures returning to the 30's for highs may be possible. But, I think the coldest air will not quite reach us yet. Ahead of a another storm system, temperatures should recover enough to preclude any significant snowfall for most of us. But, I am still hoping that additional data may help enhance our chances while the air could still be cold enough to support snow. Hopefully no ice.

According to my prediction for the rest of the month as noted in my December Prediction, near average to above average temperatures is still expected. But, as more data comes in this week, the AO index could help me fine tune this outlook.

A popular study has linked an above average Eurasian October snowfall will lead to a decisively negative AO winter, which means more shots of cold air for us and the Eastern United States.

Interpreting the study along with their current data, the second half of December would be below average in terms of temperatures.

But the models, at least some, are not in agreement with this happening in December, perhaps because of El Nino's influence.

Right now, I am in that boat. But, if I'm wrong, someone throw me a line and pull me into the other boat please.


Monday, November 30, 2015

MikJournal 2015/2016 Winter Overview and December Prediction

The time has arrived. Another winter season is upon us, and people are wondering, some cautious but others excited, about the upcoming winter prospects as El Nino is expected to throw the winter season out of sorts.

Perhaps you have noticed the title of this post does not include the words weather and  forecast. When one tries to explain how the winter season is going to unfold over a period of at least 3 months, that's not called weather in the fullest sense and should not be called a forecast.

According to the American Meteorological Society glossary of meteorology, "weather consists of the short-term (minutes to days) variations in the atmosphere."

Therefore, I find it amusing when meteorologists, who study the intricacies of the atmosphere, how it interacts with our oceans and lands, so as to have a complete understanding in order to predict accurately it's effects thus a weather forecast covering a period of "minutes to days", attempt to 'forecast' a 3-month range that is far beyond their usual and preferred limit of perhaps several days. Is it not difficult enough to render an accurate forecast over a period of a few days? So, let's try months too?

Surely the many and often varied winter 'forecasts' should be for entertainment purposes only. But, some of these people spend inordinate amounts of time, studying how the different storm tracks of the past relate to current atmospheric behavior so as to predict a future outcome. Why, some even go so far as to give us a 'forecast' snowfall range for the 3-month period, yes like a winter weather forecast of "minutes to days", by the end of February! Man, they're serious. Come on, really? Forecasters dare not levy any potential snow totals for the short term until we get closer to an actual event. But, let's wing it at several weeks out. Right.

So, no, this is not a 2015/2016 winter weather forecast that includes snow amounts for the end of February. I call it a prediction, and I am only providing one month's worth of data at a time. However, I will provide a brief overview about my expectations for the entire winter regionally. In addition, beginning in January, I will be posting a random selection of geographic locations nationwide in order to keep track of El Nino's manipulation, if any, on these areas and help define what that may mean for our region as we progress deeper into the winter.

Regional Winter Overview

Now, let's get to it. First, I expect that our region will be milder than the previous two winters (2013/14 and 2014/15). Why do I say this? Well, take Louisville as an example in our region. It is no mystery that Louisville's official reporting station is in the midst of a heat island. That being said, during the past two winters, Louisville averaged at least 3 degrees below normal for each winter. In fact, February 2015 was a very cold month when it came to averages, some 11 degrees below normal. That's unheard of in comparison to other climatological records. That was the 7th coldest February on record.

I think you would expect locations outside Louisville to be even colder. So, I do not think that my expectations for a milder winter compared to the two previous winters is a stretch of my imagination. Technically, we here in Louisville can be below normal for the winter AND still be milder than the last two.

Precipitation should come out about the same or wetter than the previous two winters. I do predict the farther south you live, the wetter. Louisville averaged just below normal for the two winters combined. But, we should feel the effects of an El Nino-enhanced, active southern jet stream as far north as Louisville but more likely south.

December Prediction

I do not expect any Arctic outbreaks for this month. But, just like November, a modified Arctic air mass may take up residency for a brief period of time. This will be tempered by some rather balmy weather as well.

The second week of December (8th-14th). If there is going to be a 'best case scenario' for measurable snowfall, it will be sometime during this week or toward the end of that week.

During my earlier research, it appeared that Christmas week would be colder. But, I have backed off of that thinking now.

The last week of the month appears to be rather stormy for parts of the country. Our region may be affected, especially southern Kentucky. But, I would like to give a heads up to our entire region as a vigorous storm system may lead to severe weather followed my much colder weather heading into January.

Overall, December looks like normal to above normal temperatures and near normal precipitation.

My January prediction will come out the last week of December (28th through the 31st).


Monday, November 23, 2015

MikJournal Monday 11/23/15

Good morning. I have tallied my interpretation of the leading medium range models for last week. Among the three I tested for medium range, GFS, GDPS, and the Euro, the winner was...GFS.

That's not uncommon, but typically, the Euro does a better job than the other models. I selected last Sunday evening as the initialization point. All the models got lost by last Thursday but the GFS performed better. And although it was a day off on the cold for Sunday (it had Saturday), the temperature profile was nearly spot on.

I will include some other variables going forward for this upcoming week, as we have another active week ahead of a busy travel time. I have reserved that for another post today.

Barrow Alaska is going through that phase where the sun does not rise above the horizon. On November 1, there was nearly 6 hours of daylight. By the 19th, the sun failed to rise above the horizon. Now, that does not mean it's totally dark. There are hints of daylight throughout the day but no sign of the elusive orange ball. The sun will not rise above the horizon again until January 23, 2016 at 1:10pm local time.

Where do you think the earliest sunset is at in the continental United States? Well, you may find a different answer than I did, but I went to Maine and found the northern AND easternmost point on the map and arrived at Van Buren. The earliest sunset is at 3:42pm. But, it is not on the winter solstice. Remember that measures the shortest day of the year in terms of sunrise and sunset.

Just for fun, where in Kentucky has the earliest sunset? That one is pretty tough to answer. I don't want to start a civil war. But, looking at Ashland and Catlettsburg, they're pretty close. But, I used the US Naval Observatory numbers and Catlettsburg appears to be the winner at 5:09pm. However, at least one other source has both setting at 5:09pm. It's just that close.

Again, be looking for some hints at how the rest of the month may end. Also, I am working on a winter forecast for the month of December. I have elected not to put out a complete winter forecast for December through February but have decided to work on a monthly forecast for each month of the winter as these may tend to be more updated and have the most relevant information needed to update the reader as to the latest trend of the developing winter.

In other words, I am holding myself to a higher standard of reporting instead of some long range blindfolded dart throw in the dark from the next street over, which is separated by a river, at least a half-mile wide, etc....


Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Rainfall Totals at My House This Week 11/16 - 11/18

Here at my house in Valley Station, a large storm system began affecting my region in Kentucky. On Monday, the 16th, light rain began falling, ahead of schedule, as the drier air aloft was moistening quickly. Then parts of Tuesday saw additional light rains. Those events added up to 0.22".

Today, the 18th, rain moved back into the area. In fact, a large N-S shield of rain moved in again, ahead of schedule, and plagued the Louisville area most of the day with moderate to occasionally heavy rain.

After several hours of steady rain, the precipitation shut off temporarily as winds began gusting up to over 40mph at my house. Then another quick hitting band of rain moved in.

Another dry spell, but thick clouds persisted. Then, shortly after 5:00pm, a narrow band of intense showers hit the area with one last punch. Once the rain ended, a beautiful color-filled western sky blazed and graced the horizon. What a way to end the day.

Today's rainfall amounted to 2.11" for a weekly total of 2.33".


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

A Volatile November So Far

November has been a busy month with reports of various kinds of weather, mostly extreme weather. Tornado reports for the month have now more than doubled since yesterday. Pampa TX has an alleged video footage of a mile-wide wedge tornado that caused lots of damage yesterday. But numerous reports from storm chasers confirm the event.

On the other side, we have seen a major winter storm engulfing much of the Rockies and the front range. Blizzard products are out with high winds and blowing snow. Some locations will report from 1 to 2 feet of snow by the time it moves out of the region.

In addition, heavy rainfall slowly moves across the Plains poised to sack the Mississippi River valley area. Houston TX, hit hard by flooding rains in October with over 13", has recorded over 1.50" with this event.

Let's not forget about the west. One of the locations I have been wanting to keep tabs on as regards our El Nino phenomena is Forks WA. I have been looking for a signal for milder and drier conditions as it relates to El Nino. Uh, far from it. Forks has now recorded measurable rainfall for 22 out of 23 days with totals surpassing 19"!

Locally, last year on this date, many of us snow lovers were pleased to see 2-3" of snow. While the weather has not taken on a wintry look yet, forecasts are leaning toward a colder pattern through most of the month and perhaps starting the month of December. In fact a few of our flakey visitors may pay a visit to some parts of our region, at least letting us know that hopefully, there will be repeat visits forthcoming with a posse of their friends soon.

Buckle up and let's see where this takes us.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Model Comparisons...GFS, NAM, Euro For This Week 11/16 - 11/23

I am going to try and post these weekly. Then make a comparison of the models as far as the longer range and the shorter range to see which is a better fit.

In the past, I have said that the Euro is the preferred model at 7 days out. I generally like the GFS about 4-5 days out, then the NAM within 24-48 hours.

Also, we'll explore what the models are saying in the 8-9 day outlook and I'll mention any adjustments made to that time period once I report the next weekly series of data for the 7 days.

First, all of the models that I am showing highlight temperatures ranging from highs of 60-70 degrees for central Kentucky during the Mon/Tue time frame.

Wednesday appears to be a transition time as the Euro has us in the 60's, the GFS in the 50's, but the NAM has us in the 60's but falling through the 50's during the daytime.

The NAM for this model run does not see into Thursday very completely. So, it's down to the GFS and the Euro, and I will show another model called the GDPS.

For Thr, GFS has us in the 50-54 degree range...Euro 49-53...GDPS 51-55. So, they all overlap to some extent.

But look what happens by Friday and Saturday.

Friday November 20
GFS:  54-58
Euro:  47-51
GDPS: 49-53

Saturday November 21
GFS: 53-57
Euro:  46-50
GDPS: 46-50

Sunday the 22nd
GFS: again solidly in the 50's
Euro: 52-56
GDPS: 49-53

Monday the 23rd
GFS:  39-43
Euro: 56-60
GDPS: 55-59

The GEFS analogs for the 21-23 time frame has much of central Kentucky in a 4-6 degree below normal shading, which the GFS and GDPS would fit. The Euro has us about 3 degrees below normal. I am using Louisville's normal high temperatures of 57-58 degrees for this time period.

Finally, the 8 and 9 day outlook (24-25) just for fun...Euro and GDPS has central Kentucky above normal, while GFS has us just below normal.

The estimated temperature highs are based on 850mb temps when clear to partly cloudy and mostly dry. Cold and warm air advection may also impact readings at the surface. Therefore, temperatures may differ by several degrees under certain conditions.


MikJournal Monday 11/16/15

Looking at last week's data, the CPC had much of the east in an above normal temperature and precipitation regime coming into this week. If the current forecast holds through Wednesday, kudos to them.

The latest CPC 6-10 day and 8-14 day outlooks are painting a much different pattern change for the period of November 21-29. Below normal temperatures look to dominate the bulk of this time period.

In fact GEFS analogs show temperatures from 2-6 degrees below normal, which could mean for Louisville that 55-58 degree normal high temperatures may be replaced by temperatures struggling to break 50 degrees during that time.

And there are indications that December will start out even colder. I'm especially interested in this as I am already working on my winter forecast for December.

Remember, I will not be posting a December-February winter forecast like others. Honestly, I have not been impressed by many forecasts in the past, especially my own. In addition, El Nino may make this winter forecast even more challenging for forecasters. But, I will suggest a general theme for what I expect for the overall meteorological winter of December through February, such as drier and warmer or wetter and colder than the past year or two.

I will be presenting 3 monthly forecasts for the winter months with each forecast coming out about a week before the next winter month begins. For example, my December forecast will come out Thanksgiving week. Then. I will be posting a running total and comparing these with my previously mentioned overall expectations for the entire winter.

I believe this will provide the reader with a better understanding of the most up-to-date trends as to how the winter is unfolding, and it holds someone like me more accountable than someone who takes a color shading in November and pastes it for some region what's going to happen in February. People tend to forget what someone said was going to happen in February when being announced in November thus less accountability, I guess.

So, there you have it. By the way, I noticed many locations in Kentucky have seen their temperatures rise overnight. Mine has held steady for a few hours now, right at 34 degrees. Clouds are blocking the sun and have replaced the mostly clear skies from last night. Therefore, not much rise yet.

One more. Snowmass, Colorado, just west of Aspen, at an elevation of 9800 feet or so, is expecting a nice thumping of snow. Great for skiers. Isn't that a great name for a ski resort, Snowmass?


Saturday, November 14, 2015

Weather People Over the Years

Talk about memory lane. I woke up this morning and realized that I missed some of my favorite weather people that I grew up with. So, I researched some of them and discovered other things I never knew. It's funny how that happens. You 'google' something then get sidetracked by other topics on the page. So, you click on that and before you know it, can't remember what you were trying to do in the first place.

For instance, I wanted to look at some iconic weather people over the years. I was hoping to find a video feed of a younger Jim Cantore (with hair) of The Weather Channel. But, before that, what got me going  was I could not remember the name of the weather guy on NBC's Today Show who always gave a shout out to those at least 100 years old back in the 1980's. Remember I had just woke up; therefore, the mind was not processing very efficiently nor effectively.

My 'googling' journey led me first to famous celebrities who got their start in TV weather broadcasting, or some other form of weather broadcasting, like the college radio. Some of these I already knew.

David Letterman once was the weatherman for what is now WTHR in Indianapolis several years ago when he was just 28 years old.

Here is one that I never remember seeing before...Letterman with Al Roker, another legend in 1988, showing off his 'expertise' for his comedy show....

Just scroll down to find the video....

Other famous celebrities that did weather were Pat Sajak from Wheel of Fortune, sexy Raquel Welch, John O'Hurley, think J Peterman from 'Seinfeld' and Family Feud, Bob Iger, now Disney guru, Louisville's own Diane Sawyer, the late Gilda Radner, and Barbara Walters.

But there are other weather people that have had and will always have a special place in my often deficient memory bank. Since I look at it as selective memory loss, I only choose the things I want to remember . And these are the ones I really wanted to mention as I was growing up in the late 70's and 80's, including Willard Scott mentioned earlier who always had an ending script to his weather broadcast by introducing us to some centenarian. Something I had forgotten was that he was also the original Ronald McDonald.

Locally I grew up watching NBC Wave 3's Tom Wills, by far my favorite television meteorologist. He and (at the time) CBS WHAS 11's Chuck Taylor were the foremost pioneers in their field. I was always impressed by their knowledge about weather despite not having the best and timely equipment or tools for forecasting, like we have today.

Tom was really good at reading weather charts and interpreting how the weather would affect our area. And he was fairly accurate with his forecasts. I recall several instances whereby other local television meteorologists would forecast heavy snow amounts for the area. But Tom often ruined the party by saying 'just a few flurries', and he was usually right. Had to go to school that next day after all. Bummer.

One of my favorite memories is later in life when I got to take an Introduction to Meteorology class at the University of Louisville, where Tom Wills taught. I loved the class. He presented the information in an easy-to-understand manner, at least to me it was easy. In fact he dismissed me and three others from the final exam so we wouldn't "mess up the curve" for everyone else.

John Belski was another favorite. I enjoyed his passion for the weather and still do. I really did not watch him on (at that time) ABC WLKY 32 when I was younger but enjoyed his weather forecasts on Wave 3. I really liked his blog. He is an avid snow lover just like me and just as passionate when severe weather threatens the area.

I found these pictures from Belski's Blog in 2013, commenting on the earliest snow ever in Louisville on October 3, 1980. And here are his contemporaries together doing what they did best.


When I heard Belski was retiring, I was numbed. To this day, I really felt he was forced out at Wave 3. So, although I will watch Wave 3 for weather information, I lost a lot of respect for the media market as they just insert and delete whomever they want, no matter how valuable one's expertise in the field. Nevertheless, I am glad he's back 'home' at WLKY and am appreciative of the pictures above on his blog.

Now, the theme at Wave 3's weather team is that they (weather guys and gals) all grew up here, like that's the important thing. While I believe it is important to know the local meteorological oddities that can happen in our region, one still has to have a clear understanding of those processes. And I feel that Wave 3 has access to the same technological equipment as other TV stations to help determine what the weather forecast may turn out to be for any one location, and it seems they rely just as much on this same data or just borrow similar data from the NWS Louisville office. My point is that these people and many of today's television meteorologists lack the artistic niche that meteorological pioneers of old possessed, the ability to answer "Does this make sense?" and "What does this tell me about how our weather will be affected, based on similar weather charts in the past?"

I am not just singling out Wave 3, but I do feel that although they all grew up here, that does not translate to all are able to explain our weather and its processes thus how our weather in the Ohio Valley, the battleground of winter precipitation types, will unfold.

I would love to ask some on the weather team to explain to me  the Quasi-Geostrophic theory or the Hydrostatic equation as it relates to ridges and troughs along with its positive and negative vorticity advections. As found on the weather charts, can they locate a positive vorticity advection maxima on a 500mb chart and explain its potential affects on my weather. I bet some on the team would not be able to identify these fundamental items on a weather chart still.

While the networks only care about ratings and not specifically one's trustworthiness, reliability, knowledge, and passion in the field, as long as they have some type of weather degree or certificate, and they look good on TV, "let's try him/her out". Or we need a 'younger, fresher perspective on the weather'.

I try and look for one's trustworthiness by looking at those 'seals' they possess. If they are truly interested in earning our trust, they need to put forth the extra effort in addition to the 'gotta have that meteorology degree to be on TV" and obtain those seals, whether it be the NWA (National Weather Association), which by itself would not garner my full trust as a proficient meteorologist, the AMS does not offer its seal anymore (ended in 2008) as the CBM is the newest replacement, or have in one's possession all 3 of these distinctions: NWA, AMS/CBM. Renewing these certifications every few years demonstrates their interest in wanting to improve their abilities and earn the public's continued trust.

Image result for seals of the meteorologist Image result for seals of the meteorologist
Image result for seals of the meteorologist

Speaking of trustworthiness, I like to mention another one out there in the meteorological field that I have learned much from over the years by their mentoring. Again, growing up with cable TV, we had access to the Chicago WGN station. As recognizable as the late Harry Caray, the Chicago Cubs sportscasting legend, is Tom Skilling. I check in on his blog from time to time. Check him out at...

Finally, for those who are so passionate about their field of study, I would like to recognize Reed Timmer, not just a storm chaser but a meteorologist who has a very broad understanding of how severe weather develops. Unfortunately, the El Reno tornadoes claimed the life of his contemporary and friend, Tim Samaras on May 31 2013, who Rimmer paid tribute to in the following video here.

Reed Timmer
Image result for reed timmer pictures

In fact, the Weather Channel's Mike Bettis and crew sustained injuries when their vehicle became airborn briefly and rolled several yards in a field. Then, Rimmer himself received minor injuries from flying glass a few months later intercepting a tornado in Aurora, Nebraska. These individuals do not chase storms for the thrill of it (as some people do) but are professionals, a little too passionate, but passionate professionals nonetheless.

Overall, despite the media's involvement and dictation in how weather should be reported, which I believe stymies some in their profession, the people in place are for the most part knowledgeable, personable, and passionate.

So, the next time the weatherman gets the forecast wrong, just let it slide. After all, how many people do you know who get it wrong several times a year and still hold a job? It's an inexact science still, but thanks to pioneers of old and the newer, fresher corps that follow, the updates in technology will continue to improve and a need to understand how to interpret the data and make personal application to a geographical area will be essential.


Thursday, November 12, 2015

Looking Ahead to the Second Half of the Month

It's only the 12th, and I am already looking ahead to the rest of the month.

By the way, last night's winds were not too bad at my place. Earlier model runs had painted a swipe of very high winds trying to reach the surface. But additional runs sniffed out a pre-frontal band of precipitation, which was able to help form a predicted inversion or area of stable air, limiting the highest winds from reaching the surface. Good call.

At least for the next 10 days, I still do not see any Arctic outbreak happening here. However, these powerhouse low pressure systems near Alaska are going to tap into some Arctic air and transport that south. But that air typically modifies before it reaches us. So, for Louisville and surrounding areas, temperatures between 38 and 43 is as low as I see our daytime readings getting, say during the 20-24th time frame. Overnight lows in the low 20's are still possible.

Could there be a few flurries during that time? I am not discounting that idea. But, no decent shot of ground-whitening snowfall yet.

Arctic Oscillation, while trending downward, is still not expected to be that weak, as pressure readings, especially from those Alaskan systems, will transport enough wind energy up there to keep the belt of Polar winds confined to that region for the most part. But, that just means more cold air in reserve just waiting to spill down into our neck of the woods.

Additionally, PNA values continue to show a negative bias, which typically leads to a trough type pattern for the Northwest over this same time period. That means for our weather, we can expect some zonal flow off the Pacific or a trough west, ridge east type of pattern. In other words, near normal temperatures with episodes of relatively warm air followed by shots of colder air.

Finally, the CPC is still holding fast to an above average temperature scheme for much of the east through the 25th. Of course, that does not mean everyday, we will have above normal readings.


Tuesday, November 10, 2015

High Winds Could Cause Tree Damage

A vigorous storm system will approach our region, and it looks more likely it will be accompanied by a lot of wind, just ahead and behind the front.

The latest 12z NAM data run continues to suggest a possible need for High Wind Watch/Warning products for a period of time Wednesday and overnight.

Just my interpretation, which can be overdone at times, winds of 30-40 mph along with gusts of 55 mph should be expected.

My reasoning is that wind fields just above the surface may be measuring anywhere between 40 and 80 mph. Precipitation, not necessarily thunderstorms, may be able to transport some of that wind energy surface bound.

Gusts of 50 mph or more will result in tree damage, especially less healthy trees like stressed trees from our recent summer dry spell.


Monday, November 9, 2015

MikJournal Monday 11/09/15

Well, I took a little time off last week by visiting Charleston SC last weekend. A very old community and a lot of civil war history. I was impressed by the size of some of those cannons, weighing in at over 5,000 pounds. In fact, recently, I read about three cannons from the Civil War era that were discovered and raised out of the Pee Dee river near Florence that came in at a whopping 15,000 pounds each. Those are currently being restored in North Charleston. So, I did not get a chance to see those behemoths when visiting there.

About a month ago, the region experienced heavy rainfall in excess of 24" in places over a 4 day span. Mount Pleasant was where I ate lunch. But, I could not tell that any flooding had affected these areas. In Charleston near the Battery, only a remnant of the flooding remained with a little bit of caked mud along the street. But the old stately buildings and restored residences did not appear damaged by the recent weather.

Now, I know it's Monday. Often I am confused anyway but today, I feel more confused than usual. Let me explain.

The Climate Prediction Center offers medium and longer range outlooks for temperatures and precipitation. However, they also present teleconnection indices from GFS or ensembles. These teleconnections are the NAO, AO, PNA, just to name a few. You may or may not understand these terms. But, that's okay. They should.

The outlook for the 6-10 day and 8-14 day periods calls for above average temperatures in areas where some medium range forecasts suggest a blast of colder air spilling into their region like the northern Great Plains. Some drama going on there.

But wait. A primary teleconnection index I follow this time of year is the AO, or the Arctic Oscillation. Readings have been very positive, which basically means the coldest air stays up there. However, the forecast from GFS and ensembles show a decline toward neutral or even slightly negative over the next 10 days at least.

Typically, a negative AO should have a colder impact upon the eastern parts of the U.S. this time of year and especially into the winter.

Yet, through the 22nd of this month, mostly above average temperatures are expected. I will be following this closely for adjustments. Right now, bulk of coldest air is supposed to remain west, near parts of the Intermountain west and Great Basin.

Nevertheless, colder air is building in the Arctic regions and is poised to dive southward barring any significant blocking that may deflect the coldest air away from our region, which I guess is possible. But that's one big gorilla lurking just north.


Friday, November 6, 2015

Looking Ahead to November...Important Month for Identifying Upcoming Winter Trends

Many meteorologists are already putting out winter forecasts. Some are slated to release their forecasts later this month. Even some released forecasts in the summer, which is a little too early in my opinion. I've always liked to tinker with a winter forecast but already know ahead of time that nobody can accurately predict exactly what's going to take place any winter season.

And this season especially. El Nino figures to play a role in the upcoming winter. Already a strong El Nino, it should remain so until at least early 2016.

I have been poring over last month's data for any sign of El Nino's upcoming impacts. The hints that I have been looking at include what's going on out west, especially.

Southern California has just come away from a record setting month of October for very warm temperatures. PNA values for the month of October were very high, highest I have seen in a few years.

I will be looking at this feature for the months of November through January. PNA values may stay elevated. Precipitation is another part of the PNA positive equation. Parts of southern California have already exceeded their monthly average for November, which is a good sign of PNA's positive pattern influence and El Nino's hand.

Looking at the tropics, California did not experience any direct impact from any tropical systems in October. Remnants of Patricia affected Mexico and curved eastward toward the Gulf of Mexico. Therefore, no direct signal can be attributed to El Nino.

As far as Washington state, I like looking at how El Nino is 'supposed' to affect these areas. Drier than average and warmer than average is the ongoing theme to look for during the months of October through December.

Yes, Forks WA did come in below average for precipitation. However, a strong push of moisture helped erase a rather large deficit as we ended the month of October. Other locations in the Seattle NWS coverage area actually finished the month above normal. All locations did finish well above normal for temperature readings. Therefore, a little bit of a mixed signal has 'muddied' the waters as to how or if El Nino is affecting this region.

Boulder CO did not experience any snow storm greater than 12" for October. In fact, no measurable snow was recorded during the month, which is not unusual. But, during some El Nino events, generous snowfall has been a nice predictor as to how El Nino may affect the upcoming winter. So, again, not much of a signal yet.

I am still awaiting to see additional hints about El Nino for the month of November. I will be sharing those with you in a future post. But for right now, I am not expecting El Nino to affect our winter right away. In fact we may not see any impacts until later in the winter, like February. Does this mean February will be a dry and warm month? Or severe weather? How about a big snow event? All of these may be possible for that month.

Otherwise, the data so far is suggesting to expect things to go as planned without El Nino's effects for the first part of the winter.

I will be updating the trends each month for the rest of the winter. Therefore, instead of putting out a seasonal forecast this year since analogs are not going to be helpful anyway, I will be focusing on how the winter is progressing each month versus the El Nino Handprint for U.S. winter.


MikJournal Monday 02/25/2019...Drying Out

What a wet pattern we have been enduring. Will we finally dry out? Welcome to another installment of MikJournal Monday, the 25th of February...