My State of the Winter Address
15 years ago I embarked on a journey to bring you the inside scoop on Arkansas weather. With a focus on winter weather, severe weather, and all extremes, it has grown because of you. More than 10 MILLION visits to this page just over the past decade, it has been my pleasure to bring hope to snow lovers across every corner of this state.
I am here before you today to say the state of winter 2020-2021, sucks. There really is no other way of putting it.
Ok, enough with that. If you live in southeast Arkansas or northern Arkansas, it's great. Monticello has had wayyyyyy more snow than Little Rock over the past few years. Didn't see that coming.
So where do we go from here? Will February offer any hope? I think it will, but it's a long shot in my opinion. Our weather is very much dependent upon what happens over the Pacific Ocean. That makes sense because the prevailing flow is from west to east. We have been flooded with mostly Pacific air. Our source region has not been truly from the arctic. When we do get air from Canada, it has a Pacific influence too. They have been WAY above average this winter so far. The really cold air has been on the other side of the world with temperatures in Siberia reported between -60 to -70 degrees. If that air was on our side of the pole, it would be a different ballgame, but that's not what we have.
To understand where we are and why we can't get cold, look at this chart below. It's the Euro Ensemble 500mb anomalies. This is NOT a cold pattern whatsoever for us. It's anticold.
That big blue area shows where troughing is favored by the end of this month. The flow around that floods us with Pacific air. There's a cool down from time to time, but there's little doubt temperatures will be above average. This is a terrible, horrible pattern for cold air around here with ridging over us.
By February 5th, it changes! However, we're dealing the long term so don't get excited. Ridging is favored in the eastern Pacific with troughing here! Colder air, right? Not so fast my friend. The ridge must shoot further north into Alaska and the polar areas. This still has troughing up there, BUT if that ridge does manage to extend north, we're in the ballgame. That's a big if! IMO, this tells me we'll have more of the same. Marginally cold air with precip from time to time. There's still a Pacific influence, just not as much as this upcoming week.
What concerns me more than winter weather is severe weather. Getting to this central U.S trough may come at a price during the first week of February. Severe weather chances should be ramping up around this time of the year, especially with an ongoing La Nina. It's very possible we'll have severe thunderstorms before any meaningful winter weather chances.
Below is the EPO (Eastern Pacific Oscillation). In its positive phase, it floods us with Pacific air. In the negative phase, arctic air masses have a tendency to dive south. You see by end of the 1st week in February, there's another attempt to get to neutral. It needs to go negative and it's not. This tells me that ridge just won't shoot north and get the cold air into our side of the world.
THESE NUMBERS ARE NOT FORECAST NUMBERS! Look at the trend. Warm by Monday, then cooling. More warm air by the end of January into February with the Pacific influence. Maybe cooler towards the end of the first week of the month. That transition will have to be watched for storms.
In summary, there's hope, but not much. Our weather can get wild in February and March. I just hope it's not severe weather. However, there's a better chance for that than winter weather. Remember all those forecasts and people saying we wold have a roller coaster all winter? Not so much. ALL La Nina's are different. This one is no exception.