CLEVELAND - Winter has been brutal! Well, not here in the Eastern US. But, over in Europe they are frigid.
Snow is falling in Northern Africa. Alaska is buried under 12 feet of snow and has seen temperatures in the last week near -80 F! Global temperatures in January fell to .09 degrees C below the 30 year running average. Yes, winter is out there. Just not here.
So, what does the second half of winter have in store for you? First, take a look at the pattern we've been stuck in (Figure 1) since November. The jet stream has been diving south and then scooting north into the Great Lakes.
These winds aloft at 18-thousand feet drive surface low pressures with plenty of moisture into Northern Ohio. Warm air surges in ahead of the low. Temperatures soar and most of the precipitation falls as rain. Once the low goes by, it pulls down some cold air that lingers for a day or two. Then, the cycle begins again...
If you love winter, then we need a change in this jet stream pattern. What will change it? Several complex ocean and atmospheric phenomena that go by the names of MJO, NAO, PDO, AO and, of course ENSO.
Needless to say, these patterns, as they currently stand, have favored a warmer, wetter winter in Northeastern Ohio. Computer models have been suggesting a change in these patterns for weeks now. It hasn't happened.
The patterns are stubborn and don't look to change very quickly, if at all. So, for February, we will likely see a continuation of above normal temperatures. We will continue to see areas of rain and brief snows followed by a few days of cold air.
I do expect a more active jet stream through at least early March. We will likely see a few extra days of colder weather. Temperatures will average above normal by a degree or two for the second half of winter. Snowfall will likely average below normal for the season with near to slightly above normal rainfall.
As for any major winter storms, if we could just get the MJO to phase 8 and a negative NAO, we would make all the snow lovers happy but I digress.