Jan 5, 2012: New Year, Same Pattern

 The blog archive goes back through late December 2009. Considering this, there are posts back from last January with the same dates but with a completely different pattern, as last year’s January had plenty of snow potentials at this time of the year, while right now there is still no snow to be found. When checking this website for the latest forecasts, it would be helpful to check the date of the post to confirm that it is from 2012, and not from January 2011.


The strong cold spell that affected the region over the last few days was no exception to the pattern in place, and the cold quickly started to move out, with warmer temperatures observed today along with partly cloudy skies. High temperatures ended up in the lower 40s across most of the area, which is slightly warmer than average. Widespread record warmth was observed today in the north central US due to an unusually strong warm air mass for this time of the year, and as we have seen plenty of times this winter, the warmth will spread towards the East Coast, with temperatures surging back to 50 degrees in parts of the area for Friday and Saturday. Although temperatures will cool back down to the 40s next week with generally dry conditions, a storm is expected to affect the area around Thursday next week, bringing more rain, potentially heavy, across the region.

Tomorrow’s Outlook:

With the temporary break from the stormy weather, dry conditions along with partly sunny skies will continue through the next 6 days, including tomorrow (Friday). Temperatures will be noticeably warmer than they were today with the warmth spreading east, with high temperatures reaching the mid to upper 40s inland and the upper 40s to lower 50s across the area. These temperatures are nearly 10 degrees warmer than average.

Saturday – Wednesday: Dry, Warmer Than Average

With a low pressure moving through the northern Northeast, a cool air mass will slowly slide south from Canada into the region, but no amplification is expected as the pattern remains very progressive. The last day of the brief surge of warmth will be on Saturday, with high temperatures once again reaching the mid to upper 40s inland and the upper 40s to lower 50s across the rest of the area. Temperatures will slightly cool down on Sunday with partly sunny skies again, along with highs in the lower to mid 40s across the area. The storm that was modeled a couple of days ago for Sunday is still gone, with not a single sign of any precipitation even affecting the region, although the models are showing a wave of low pressure moving through parts of the region on Monday. For now, I kept partly to mostly cloudy skies in place for Monday with highs again in the lower to mid 40s, although in the scenario that the wave comes further north, a few isolated showers at most could be possible, although the risk of rain is very low at this time. Mainly sunny skies will return for Tuesday with highs in the mid to possibly upper 40s, and Wednesday will bring similar temperatures with increasing clouds.

Thursday – Longer Range: Rain, Then Colder

A storm is expected to approach the region on Thursday, bringing the potential for widespread moderate rain across the region. There is uncertainty with the exact development of the storm this far out, although there is high confidence that a storm will affect the area around this time frame. The storm will be a cutoff low, with another low pressure closer to the northern US keeping the cold air stuck in Canada and the western US. As a result, with little cold air associated with this storm, rain is likely to be the primary precipitation type for the Mid Atlantic, the I-95 corridor, and parts of the Northeast. Some models show the potential for heavy rain out of this storm, although strong phasing like the ECM model showed a few days ago is not very likely given the pattern, and at least as of now, I am thinking that the storm generally follows the progressive pattern, moving out of the region and towards Greenland instead of completely phasing and sticking over the US for a longer period of time. The CMC shows the latter scenario, although the CMC has a bias where it amplifies storms too much, with that bias most likely coming into play with its latest 12z run. For now, I am going along with a scenario where the low pressure moves through the region, bringing widespread rain, possibly moderate to heavy, along with mild temperatures surging into the 40s and possibly near/slightly above 50 degrees in the warmer case scenario. The forecast could still change, however, so stay tuned for more information on the late week storm potential.

Once the storm moves out, temperatures are likely to briefly stay mild, although a trough is likely to move towards the region by next weekend. Specific details are uncertain due to the time range, although colder temperatures are likely by next weekend. Looking beyond the weekend into the longer range, there are some changes in the current pattern starting to unfold, most noticeably with a round of sudden stratospheric warming, although the pattern is still struggling to change to one that supports more cold and snow in the East, and at this rate, New York City is likely to go snowless through at least the 15th. The updated winter outlook will be posted tomorrow, discussing the pattern outlook for the rest of the winter including an updated snowfall outlook.

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