ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY; THE DANCE OF POLAR STORMS

This is the latest of a long string of posts, the last of which was:  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/10/28/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-snout-of-igor/

A good friend advised me not to launch into these posts assuming visitors had read all the prior posts, so, at the risk of being redundant, I’ll give a quick synopsis of what has come before.

Last summer I did what I have done for many years, which was to escape the heat and humidity by visiting the North Pole Camera.  Mostly I do this because I find views of the arctic to be beautiful, however also I did it to become better educated on the subject of arctic ice.

I was brought up to believe the right to vote was an honor not to be taken lightly, and that I should research before I voted, and that it was good to be an “educated voter.”  Because “Global Warming” was a political subject, I felt I should educate myself on the subject. Much to my surprise I was told that asking any questions made me some sort of a bad person.  This happened many years ago, and happened many times.

Way back in 2006 I had already decided that, even though the science was supposedly “settled,” it most definitely wasn’t settled.  I was a bit amazed, at first, by the anger some expressed towards me for simply questioning.  After a while I got used to it, and went on questioning.  I got answers, slowly, surely, and sometimes painfully.  I became convinced certain aspects of the “settled science” were, to be blunt, complete bunkum.

One aspect involved the assertion the North Pole was melting away, and that with the ice gone the “albedo” would be irrevocably altered, and a runaway positive feedback would ensue, and Global Warming would result in a planetary meltdown.

This struck me as bunkum because, even as a boy, I likely knew more about the Vikings in Greenland than most adults, and in the half century since I have learned more and more.  It was obvious to me it had to be much warmer back then than it is now.  (They could grow barley in land that now is permafrost in mid-summer.) My view was reaffirmed by more than a century’s worth of papers by scientists of all sorts, including “climatologists,” and the only dissenting view was held by a modern, elite cluster of individuals who were especially suspect because they refused to show their data.

In any case, that is largely water under the bridge.  I took my stand, had my say, and that was that.  I wasn’t really starting this post on “Views from the North Pole Camera” to make any sort of political point.  To be honest, I was getting sick of the complete stupidity of Al Gore.  I wanted nothing more to do with him or his crowd.  I wanted to get away from people who call me names for asking simple questions.  One way, I had discovered, to get away from civilization, and insults, was to enjoy the view of the North Pole Camera.

Of course, after you have spent several summers viewing the ice, the suggestion that the ice is vanishing becomes absurd.  You have seen with your own eyes how it gets slushy and then refreezes.  You know how melt-water pools form and drain down, how the ice cracks and leads form, and then clamp together and form pressure ridges.  You learn of the Transpolar Drift and Beaufort Gyre, and landscapes like Svalbard and Wrangle Island become familiar to you.  You learn of the life cycle of seals, polar bears, plankton, arctic cod, walruses, whales and krill almost by mistake. Such learning is engrossing and beautiful, and a wonderful escape from civilization and hot weather, and a good subject for an obscure blog where you get perhaps ten visitors on a good day.

Abruptly, last summer, this obscure blog had hundreds of viewers.  It was due to a melt-water puddle that formed in front of the camera and some called “Lake North Pole.”  It was supposedly proof the North Pole was melting, in some circles, but I was in the position to say I’d seen it before and that it would drain away.  When it did drain away, I suppose I became a sort of authority, though I am not. In any case, I figured the visitors would go away, but they didn’t.  Even to this day roughly a thousand people drop by each week to hear me ramble away about a wide variety of subjects orbiting about the subject of the North Pole.

Admittedly some subjects orbit farther afield than Pluto,  however I figure I’ll keep on rambling away as long as people keep coming.

 

Enjoy.

NOVEMBER 4   —DMI MORNING MAPS—  The dance begins

DMI Nov 4 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 4 temp_latest.big (1)

Newcomers to this series of posts will have to get used to the fact I name storms, high-pressure systems,  and blobs of isotherms.  It helps me keep track of things, however at times I get a bit whimsical.

Two lows are dancing around the Pole.  “Hype” is over towards the Bering Straits, circling east off the Alaskan coast, as Hypson is northeast of Svalbard, also cycling east,  off the Siberian coast.  They both are carrying invasions of warm (by arctic standards) air, and between them is the coldest air of the autumn, pooling about pole.

Further south “Payatson” is running into Norway, with his father “Payat” a weak tongue of low pressure extending north.  South of Greenland Fitz is a 968 mb gale, but has kicked an occluded front with a leading “zipper” clear across the Atlantic, and that small low, off our map, is entering and moving up the English Channel as “Fitzip.”  Crossing west Asia and about to move out into the Pacific is “Chin.”

The general area of high pressure over Siberian snows will be called “Igor” all winter, and any time that Siberian high  bulges up into the arctic and precipitates a cross-polar-flow the flow will be called “The Snout of Igor.”

NOVEMBER 4  —DAILY DATA—

Our Forkasite is continuing south, from 80.706°N to 80.531°N, and west from 3.402°W to 3.755°W, for a total movement of 12.78 miles. Temperatures have risen irregularly from a low of -21.6°C at 1800z yesterday to a high of -15.9°C at 1500z today. The wind has been steadily northeast, rising to around 11 mph at the end of the period. Barometric pressure has been falling, now down to 997 mb.

NOVEMBER 4 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— SECONDARY DANCERS

DMI Nov 4B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 4B temp_latest.big (1)

It is always amazing to see weather, which is basically chaos, produce something symmetrical, such as the swirls of a hurricane. I can see it on the Pole in these maps, where both Hype and Hypson are weaker in unison as they pirouette around the Pole, and both have a low growing stronger to their southwest. Who would imagine chaos obeyed choreographic rules?

In the case of the low developing beside Svalbard, I’d have to call it a revived “Payat.” I notice these revivals a lot up there. Hypeson himself was a low that died and was resurrected. I never have understood how it happens, but in this case it almost seems Hypeson dangled a front southwest, and Payat redeveloped as a secondary.  The same seem thing seems to be occurring on the oppose side of the Pole, with Hype and his tail, who I will dub “Hypetail.”

Further south Scandinavia is in a triad of lows, with Payatson stalled on the Coast of Norway, Fitzip entering the Baltic, and an unnamed low on the far side of the Baltic. None are ferocious giants, but I don’t imagine blonds are getting blonder.

Fitz is negotiating Greenland, which is a perplexing thing to watch and always full of surprises, as some storms drop dead while some do just fine, (and some turn to twin storms on either side of Greenland.)  I imagine Hype will stay strong, as his occlusion is totally loaded. It, by my estimate, holds about half the air that was bringing humid warmth to the east of the USA last week.  It’s not likely to run out of gas right away.

I don’t have time to study Asia, but it looks like Chin is sliding towards the Pacific.

The battered snout of Igor in east Siberia has managed to snort a glob of cold out into the arctic, but is pretty much cringing out of sight, however the rest of Igor looks fairly strong and is bulging into our map with yellowish isobars and blue isothems into the coastal Kara Sea.  This makes me a little nervous, as it is north of the Caspian.  Joe Bastardi teaches to be wary of arctic high pressure north of the Caspian, calling it something like  “Cahir’s Connection.”  (In fact, even though I said I was too busy to study Asian maps, I quickly checked, and was relieved to see a very weak low of 1002 mb just north of the Caspian, southwest of the lobe of Igor appearing on our map. Igor is centered well northeast of the Caspian.)

The center of our map holds impressive cold.  Minus-thirty is midwinter cold at the Pole, where it seldom gets as cold as the tundra of Siberia or Canada, due to the simple fact the water under the ice is a radiator running at minus-one.  While the ice is a fairly good insulator, midwinter lows tend to run in the minus-thirty to minus-forty range.  And we are still 50 days from the first day of winter!

NOVEMBER 4   —LOCAL VIEW—

I’ll have to keep this short, as most of my mental energy got spent tonight considering some wonderful questions asked by Michael Bertsch. See the comments-section below if you are curious about what I’m talking about.

The local view has been a cold one.  Although Fitz is off the map the arctic shot he hurled behind as he departed hit us squarely between the eyes.  My back porch thermometer stated, as I limped out into the cold this morning, that I was facing a low of twenty, and the warmest it got all day was 36.  (In Celsius, that is -7 to 2.)  These are temperatures that belong in December, around here. Fortunately the map shows no reinforcements from Igor coming down our way. (click to enlarge.)

Fitz Nov 4 satsfc (3)

I noticed they neglected to mark the boundary of the arctic air on that map, so I’ll do it.  The ghost front comes ashore as a stationary front in southern Virginia,  continues west to the eastern tip of Kentucky, becoming a warm front which curves sharply north and doubles back east and….Well! Will you look at that!  They have an orange dashed line to mark an upper air trough for just a bit!  The ghost has a life, after all!….but then becomes a ghost warm front again,  curving back to the north over Lake Ontario and then northeast to Bliz, who now is a modest blizzard over Manitoba.  You can see the arctic blast digging in behind Bliz, and then curving around and back north up the Canadian Rockies to Northwest Territories.

If this was 1976-77, the belly of Bliz’s arctic blast would hold another high from Igor, which would depress the boundary of arctic air southeast, as Bliz moved south of us, however please notice this map holds no such high-pressure gift from Igor.  The high to reckon with is the high over us, which will, as it slips east, create such a surge of west-side south-winds the arctic will be driven back north, where it darn well belongs.

I do note a new mountain low brewing, in the above map, with slight centers over north Texas and Gallup, New Mexico.  That low will get bigger, and I dub it “Blizson.”  It likely will follow Bliz up to Hudson Bay, but will drag more cold air into the west, and shove the arctic boundary east across the Mississippi River. However it will take its sweet time bringing the cold air all the way east to New Hampshire,  and I say “Hip HIp Hooray!” After one more frosty night we’ll get some nice, southerly winds.

I’ll close with an incredibly annoying incident which you may find amusing.  (It is sort of like seeing someone else slip and fall in the mud: Wonderful to witness, not so fun to undergo.)

My goats didn’t believe me that this was just a brief cold shot, and not the start of winter.  Over and over I drove them back to the yellowing pasture, (wondering where the heck the electric fence was grounding out.)  Undeterred, they kept up their onslaught on the last green things in sight, my Brussels sprouts and my kale.  Persistence paid, and they were victorious.

Laugh all you want.  I am seriously considering how good goat-chops, ribs and roasts might taste. A lot better than Brussels sprouts, I should think.

NOVEMBER 5  —MORNING DMI MAPS—

DMI Nov 5 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 5 temp_latest.big (1)

The symmetry at the Pole is starting to get a bit lopsided.  As sometimes happens on dance-floors, Payat is becoming as bit of a stage-hog, and may move north of Svalbard and become one of the biggest storms the ice has seen in a while, with a central pressure eventually dipping down towards 970 mb.  Our Forkasite could see some excitement.

In fact the entire Atlantic side is getting a bit fiesty, with Hype pretty large southeast of Iceland and Payatson over Norway with a party in the Baltic.

In comparison the Pacific side is quiet, demure, polite, but that is but a facade.  I’m not sure whether you call it “teleconnections,” or envy and a bad temper, but one side of the earth does not like being upstaged by the other.  Although Chin may look like a mild-mannered low of only  992 mb, he has already completely lost it and is swinging a mean uppercut:  A storm that is exploding east of Kamchatka. Already its pressure has dropped below Fitz’s 968 mb, so it already the biggest storm in the northern hemisphere.

Yet our DMI arctic map gives no hint of this.  Let that be a lesson to you, next time you see a face that appears quiet, demure, and polite.

This new pacific storm will gobble up Chin, but, as it is happening out of sight, I’ll just go on calling it Chin.  Purists may object, but this is my blog and I call the shots.  Expect it appear on the top of our DMI maps in a day  or two.

The counter-clockwise spin of the Pacific “Chin” will need some sort of clockwise whorl between it and the counter-clockwise spin of the Atlantic “Payat,” or sparks will fly.  Time to purchase some popcorn, and watch, wait, and whistle.

NOVEMBER 5  —DAILY DATA—   GALES HITTING OUR SITE

Northeast winds have increased rapidly at our Forkasite today, peaking at a steady 42 mph shortly after noon, and only slowly diminishing to 35 mph at last report at 1800z. We moved steady south from  80.556°N to 80.134°N, and moving west from 3.703°W to  4.340°W at 1500z, before rebounding east to 4.303°W at 1800z, which suggests winds may be veering northwest at times.  Our movement has been an amazing 30 miles south-southwest, and one can imagine the ice must be creaking and groaning in the wind.

I expect a temperature upsurge, but so far they have been remarkably stable, starting at  -16.9°C at 1500z yesterday, bouncing to dual highs of -14.1°C at midnight and -14.3°C at 0600z, before sinking to -17.4°C at noon and rising only slightly to -16.9°C by 1800z.

That’s a nasty wind chill.

NOVEMBER 5  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Nov 5B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 5B temp_latest.big (1)

NOVEMBER 6  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  IN THE DARK

DMI Nov 6 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 6 temp_latest.big (1)

Now is when I most hunger for a camera, or a clear and cloudless satellite picture, however our camera is gone, and the satellite view is mostly of an expanding black hole of 24-hour-darkness.  The black  hole has swallowed up Svalbard, and is just touching the north-most coast of Norway.  The entire north half of Greenland is in twenty-four hour darkness. So we are in the dark.

Even if we had a camera, the lens would likely be frozen over. These northern gales are shy and don’t like us gawking at them.  It is one of those situations where you have to use your imagination to see what is hidden, (and hope you don’t get slapped for doing so.) A true scientist would stick to the facts, facts, facts.

Judging from isobars, the northward progression of “Payat” just to the west of Svalbard is giving our Forkasite strong winds. At first those winds would have an eastern componant which would crunch all the ice to the west and mash it up against the coast of Greenland.  However the winds would gradually back to the north as the storm moved north, grinding the ice south along the coast. What gets interesting is what happens when the storm starts giving us northwest winds, and we get pushed away from the coast.  Does the ice fall apart into  broken bits of berg at the dreaded end-of-the-world edge of the ice?  Or is our berg glued to other bergs by howling gales that have a fifty-below windchill, and is it a huge plate of ice that moves out? (In Antarctica the entire plate of ice moves out, and there is a stretch of open water along the shore.)

I checked the army data, and the temperature at our Forkasite is still down at  -17.33 C. I aslo checked the port of Svalbard on the island of Svalbard, at their temperature is -7.77 C, so it is not like the storm is melting ice with warming winds.  However the seas must be high, and the ice away from the edge must be lifting and falling on big swells, making strange groaning and squealing and moaning and muttering noises.  I wish you were there, standing in that starkness, listening, and could report back to me, as I put more wood on my warm fire.

The isobars on the east side of Payat are more open and the winds are not as strong.  A long curve of general low pressure extends to Fitzip over Finland and then back to Fitz south of Iceland, which is weaker overall but still down at 968 mb.  Chin is a gigantic Pacific storm just starting to appear on our map south of the Bering Strait.

The faint remains of Hyeson continues his waltz around the pole with his father’s faint remain mirroring his moves, but they are like ghosts and no one is paying them much attention, with Payat now tied for second-strongest-storm in the Northern Hemisphere at 968 mb.

I’ll have to check up on how big Chin is getting later, but have to run to work.

QUICK PEEK AT CHIN   WOW!

Here’s a look at a map made of the “intial data,” used for the GFS models, from the 0600z run. Ryan Maue takes the data and produces these wonderful maps over at WeatherBELL.  I’d tell you to go over and sign up for a free trial, but it is like heroin: The first bag is always free. Click the map once to enlarge, and click again to get a good view.

Chin Nov 6 gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1

Pressures are down to 953 mb in Chin.  The typhoon getting all the press, (Halyan,) approaching the Phillipines just off the bottom left of this map, may have its pressure fall lower, (at the time of this map they are only down to 990 mb,) and its winds may be twice as high in a narrow ring around the eye, but these northern gales are bigger, and have hurricane winds roaring far from the center.  This is the sort of storm that fishermen in “The Most Dangerous Catch” like to avoid, and is one reason the fishing grounds up there aren’t yet depleted.

To any purists who insist that this storm is different from Chin, and in fact consumed Chin, I simply state this developed as a remote frontal feature, and therefore is a much part of Chin as an uppercut was part of Mammy Yokum

WWI US 817th Bomb Squadron 483rd Bomb Group 15th Chin AF Leather Patch with Al Capp's Mammy Yokum Decal

NOVEMBER 6  —LOCAL VIEW—   The Arctic Relents

Yesterday morning the arctic was still upon us, with temperatures down to 25, (-4 Celsius,) but the cold didn’t feel as cruel, likely because the air was breathlessly calm.  I didn’t trust the forecast, as computer models are often too fast with the return of warmth up here in New Hampshire, for some reason.  All it would take is a flattening of the 500 mb map isobars to the north, and the arctic air could nudge across the north and dip just enough to catch up with the arctic air already over us, and then, even if the rest of the USA enjoyed a southerly flow, we’d stay stuck in a pocket of cold.

This morning’s map shows such a cross-country charge of arctic air along the border looking less likely: (Click to enlarge.)

Fitz Nov 6 satsfc (3)

First, I notice Bliz is no super-storm, up over Hudson Bay, with his central pressure a weeny 1002 mb. His trailer Blizson is no giant either, at 1005 mb over the Great Lakes.  Of course, as we saw last week with Fitz, those Great Lakes lows can blow up fast, but Blizson doesn’t have the same supply of arctic air funneling in behind, and it will be a case of too little too late, if he tries to grow.  Lastly, the arctic high behind the two has lollygagged around in the west, and I have a hard time calling an arctic high “arctic” when it comes my way via Arizona.

I’ll keep an eye on Blizson, becomes sometimes even if such mild-seeming storms retreat off towards Labrador to the north of the Great lakes, with a seemingly benign Arizona-arctic high in their lee, the arctic high sneaks a strand of nasty cold in a fringe on its northeast flank.

If you look at the above map you can just a hint of such a sneaker in northwest Montana.  You can see the boundary between Pacific and Arctic air is collapsing east as a warm front all the way south through Canada, but ends with a innocuous-seeming hook of a cold front.  If that hook were to get sucked into the flow between a growing Blizson, and the cool side of a Arizona-arctic high, every one else in the USA might be walking about all smiles a midst balmy breezes, but in this northeast nook of the northeast folk would be cussing their choice of a homeland, in a brief blast of bone-chilling bad-luck. That’s why we are such grouches, up here.

Yesterday banks, government, insurance and bureaucracy added to the chill. When I was young a youth could buy a fifty dollar clunker, and it was no big deal.  Now a days it is much harder on modern youth.  It wouldn’t surprise me if the EPA passed a law banning anyone under thirty from even owning a car, but that may just be my mood talking. In any case, I got sucked into helping my middle son get a car at age twenty-one, and the time it took and the paperwork involved sunk my voice to a low growl.  I’ve got enough problems with my goats, and don’t need the government horning in as well.

I took the goats out for a walk, to keep them out of the garden. They are much better than my dog, for they stay close and never chase squirrels or attack old lady’s toy poodles. They are also interesting to observe. I study what they eat. This time of year they get a bit urgent, as they sense food is growing short.

One thing they like is acorns, which have been late falling this year due to the late flowering in the late spring.  I took them to a patch of woods where I noticed a lot had fallen, around five days ago, and was surprised to see the fallen nuts were nearly all gone, and the entire leafy floor of that patch of woods was scuffed up.  It would take a hundred squirrels to scuff that much, so I suspected a group of white tailed deer had beaten us to the harvest, but then noticed the goats sniffing and glancing about anxiously, and decided a black bear had joined in for a brief before-bedtime snack.  (It’s amazing what you can see when there’s nothing to see.)

We headed out to the dam to find some green stuff on the south slope, and I saw something lovely happen in the sky.  There is a time in the early-to-mid morning when the air up five thousand feet or so is all warmed and all uplifts, and an entire deck of altocumulus can appear and then dissolve in the course of an hour.  It was a very pretty thing to watch, and made it hard to be a grouch.  Also I noticed the clouds were not moving, and figured the center of the high pressure was over us, and the cold would soon relent.

The cold hung around long enough yesterday to keep me suspiciously scanning the maps, but by this morning it was milder, and there was no frost on my windshield.  The farm thermometer read 40, (4 Celsius,) at sunup. Even the goats relaxed, and I saw them laying in the pasture, basking in the softer sunshine, as I returned from dropping off some boys at kindergarten.  Of course, that doesn’t mean I can relax.  I need to hustle, before the next cold blast bears down on us.

NOVEMBER 6  —DAILY DATA—  THE GALE RESUMES

Our Forkasite is getting blasted.  The wind, which seemingly backed slightly west of due north, veered back to the northeast. It was blowing a steady 42 mph at 1500z yesterday, but slacked off to around a steady 22 mph at 0300z today, (which is still a higher wind than we usually see,) and then the wind again increased, gradually at first but then more rapidly, to the highest winds we’ve yet seen. At the final report at 1800z  steady winds of nearly 45 mph were reported. (Who knows what the gusts are?)

The pressure bottomed out at 972.7mb during the “lull” of the gale, and the temperatures, which had risen steady since yesterday’s noontime low of -17.4°C, hit their high of -10.9°C, still well below the freezing point of salt water.  Since then they have fallen to -14.5°C, as the pressures slowly rose and the gales resumed.

Our Forkasite has continued south, from 80.134°N to 79.705°N, and west from 4.303°W to 4.513°W, which is another whopping 29.87 miles nearly due south.  The westward movement intrigues me, for the coast of Greenland does not move west this far north, and at some point the ice simply runs out of room, and the only way it can move further west is by crunching and heaping up in piles.

NOVEMBER 6   —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Nov 6B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 6B temp_latest.big (1)

I’m too tired to delve much into details. I’ll just quickly note Payat has two centers, and I face a problem with the fact they have only one name.  Also, though Hype is weakening on the coast of Siberia, the blub of very cold Siberian air brought north by his south winds has formed a very impressive, snout-of-Igor-like pool of nearly thirty-below air out over the Arctic Sea on the Bering Strait side of the Pole.

THE CONTINUING SAGA OF BUOY 2013C

Last October 17 in a prior post I wrote about the interesting journey of Buoy 2013C: from a fixed location attached to a firm ice shelf on the north side of Ellesmere Island, facing the North Pole, to a floating wanderer on a berg that broke off.  It had travelled down through Nares Strait and the northwest corner of Baffin Bay and entered Parry Sound, and was headed west, seemingly determined to visit the most northerly town in the world, Resolute.

Apparently there has been a change of plans. After wheeling and dealing its way through around five circles in Parry Sound, Buoy 2013C: has decided the heck with that, and headed back into Baffin Bay, and is now steaming south.  (Click to enlarge, and click again for further enlargement.)

2013C Nov 6 2013C_track

It would be intersting to figure out the total distance this buoy has traveled, if you took all the bends, loops and circles and made them be a straight line.  I assume the reporting station is on a chunk of ice, and isn’t a buoy just floating between bergs, because most of the time it has spent traveling has been in sub-zero cold, and even sub-zero waters.  However it does make you reconsider how mobile 100% ice-coverage is.  For example, when you look at the upper reaches of Baffin bay in the following map, you get the feeling Baffin Bay’s upper reaches are locked in. (Click to enlarge.)

Concentration of ice. Nov 6 arcticicennowcast (1)

This is a good lesson in how mobile sea ice can be.  A camera facing south on Monday can be facing north by Friday.  Even in a dead calm the ice is rising and falling with the tides, shifted by under-ice currents, and shoved about by other ice responding to winds which may be blowing hundreds of miles away.

I prefer the above map to the Cryosphere Today map, even though the above “Navy” map does have a habit of showing slight concentrations of ice on cold coasts where it hasn’t formed yet. (The Cryosphere Today maps, on the other hand, show areas that are a quarter covered with bergs as open water, for some reason.) In either case the value of a camera becomes apparent.  Sometimes our own eyes work better than satellites, though they cost far less.

I was glad to see the above Navy map showed less than 100% coverage right along the northernmost coast in Alaska, because David Sims, down in the comments, sent us the following link: http://seaice.alaska.edu/gi/observatories/barrow_webcam

This webcam, located atop a bank in Barrow, allows us to watch the shore of the Arctic Sea with our own eyes, and see the exact moment the ice arrives.

NOVEMBER 7   —DMI MORNING MAPS—  Oh Oh. Arctic aims at me

DMI Nov 7 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 7 temp_latest.big (1)

In terms of art and choreography, all is harmony and pleasing.  Hype merges into Chin on the Pacific side as Hypeson merges into Payat on the Atlantic side.  Very pretty, until you consider the fact we are talking about thirty-below air between the two merges.

Cold air has been massing its power over the Pole.  Think of it as the ball of a turkey-basting syringe inhaling a lot of juice.  Now think of Payat as fingers pressing that ball on one side, and Chin as a thumb pressing from another. The “juice” has got to squirt out somewhere.  It even shows in the graph of polar temperatures; as the cold builds the graph sinks below normal; as it departs the temperatures start to perk up towards normal:

DMI Nov 7 meanT_2013 (1)

Warm air pressing up into the arctic may be encouraging to those with a vested, political interest in seeing the arctic at least appear to be warming.  The surges from Atlantic and Pacific sides may  make them happy by temporarily slowing the growth of ice in the Barents, Kara and Chukchi Seas.  However the “warm” air is largely below the freezing point of salt water, and rather than much melting the southerly flow will likely pile the ice up at its edges, making it thicker there, while keeping waters south of the edge open and more prone to deep cooling.  In other words, blips in graphs don;t matter a hill of beans in the long run. And, in the short run, we should be focused on where the reservoir of cold air is draining.

A ridge of high pressure has appeared between the Pacific and Atlantic wheels of low pressure.  (You can’t have two counter-clockwise gears next to each other without grinding teeth; a clockwise gear must exist between the two.)  This ridge creates two cross-polar flows, one from Alaska to East Siberia north of the Bering Strait, and one from West Siberia across to the northern reaches of Canada.

The flow on the Pacific side seemingly should transport lots of reletively mild air into Siberia, however I have noticed Siberian high-pressure often defies the flow, as if some sort of front develops between Pacific and Arctic air and the highs roll the “wrong” way north of the front. Anyway, I don’t live in Siberia yet, so I’m not heeding this flow so much.

It is the other flow that concerns me.  While it is bringing some warm air north at its entrance region, you can also see the temperature map showing cold temperatures on the Siberian coast of the Kara Sea, indicative of frigid West Siberian air being sucked north as well.  However it is over at the exit region that my eyebrows rise, seeing some minus-thirty air is heading my way.

Lest Europeans smile, thinking they are off the hook, I should point out a secondary exit region hooks down the east coast of Greenland (over our Forkasite) and then bends sharply across the Atlantic towards Scandinavia.  While this air may be warmed at the surface by its Atlantic passage, not all that far up it is likely to remember its Arctic roots. The people of Norway and Sweden and Finland  will not be getting Atlantic air originating in the Azores, that’s for sure. (It would be great to get an observant comment from someone who actually lives over there.)

In any case, it will be interesting to watch the news from southern Canada and northern USA around five days from now, as I expect the cold Snout of Igor will press them like a friendly wolf. (Hopefully it sniffs out Arizona before visiting me.)

NOVEMBER 7   —LOCAL VIEW— RUMORS OF STORMS

I’m up way before the sun with a case of late-night insomnia, noting it is nice and mild, with winds from the south. The temperature is 52 (11 Celsius) and there are some showers to our west, but the air behind the slowly approaching front isn’t all that cold. (Click to enlarge)

First storm Nov 7 satsfc (3)

That is a nice, bengn map.  Blizson finally did develop a bit, way up in Quebec, but his central pressure is only 993, rather weak.  The sneaky front my sharp eyes have been watching is still stalled up in eastern North Dakota, but I do notice some arctic reinfosements just bulging into the top of the prairie provences from Northwest Territories.  That is the very tip of the Snout of Igor, like a dog peeking into your kitchen.

If you run the computer models forward that snout grows into a very big and cold arctic high, which presses south into the USA next week, and various models have various versions of snow storms to the south of that cold air.  Most clobber the center of the USA, with the snow only clipping northern New Hampshire, but a few have a secondary storm clobbering me.

I’ll have to avoid the weather blogs as much as possible, because I know my fellow weather-geeks will be all a tither, and if I’m not careful I could waste hours chatting rather than getting stuff done.  Once we have a snow cover everything becomes three times as hard to do, around here.

Forgive me if my postings become brief and terse over the next week.

NOVEMBER 7  —DAILY DATA—  STORM OVER

Our Forkasite moved south from 79.705°N to 79.396°N and west from 4.513°W to 4.883°W at 1200z, whereupon the winds turned northwest and the Forkasite rebounded back to 4.761°W. I’m a little surprised by the size of the rebound, considering winds had dropped to roughly 5 mph. It is almost as if, when the winds relented, a storm surge up against Greenland’s east coast turned into a backwash heading off shore. In any case we moved a healthy 21.66 miles further south before the winds slacked off.

Temperatures fell steadily from -14.5°C at 1800z yesterday to -20.3°C at 1800z today. This frigid air seems to stick close to the coast of Greenland and only turns east towards Europe on a trajectory that takes it south of Iceland.

Note:  Formerly our data was released in segments covering 24 hours from 1500z one day to 1500z the next day.  Now it covers a period from 1800z to 1800z. Perhaps it is due to the end of Daylight Savings Time.

NOVEMBER 7  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— NOW THAT’S CROSS POLAR FLOW!

DMI Nov 7B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 7B temp_latest.big (1)

There are only two dancers now, “Payat” on the Atlantic side and “Chin” on  the Pacific side, both positioned to throw warm winds towards the Eurasian side of the Pole, which can only squeeze the cold towards the Canadian side.

It’s hard to talk much about the weather anywhere but the Philippines tonight, so I’ll pop on a Pacific map and talk about “Chin,” allowing us to glance south and think about Typhoon Haiyan. (Click to enlarge.)

Chin Nov 7 gfs_mslp_uv10m_npac_1

Haiyan is down on the lower left corner of this map, and due to latitude distortions and also computer grid-problems, doesn’t look like the tight dot of horribly fierce winds it is.  Central pressure is estimated to be around 903 mb at landfall, and with isobars so tight winds are screaming, with gusts to 200 mph, which is faster than many tornadoes.  The storm surge is likely to taller than a two story building, and one can only hope they got the people away from the coast.  Just about the only good thing about such storms is they are at their worst in a tight band around the center, and a hundred miles north and south the winds may only be gales.  However for the people directly in the path it is hell, especially if they are poor and without sturdy shelters.

Pray for them.

To the north a gale such as Chin is far larger, and its strongest winds can reach vast swaths far from the center, and even though they are not as strong, perhaps “only” up around 80 mph as the gale peaks, they stretch out across such a long fetch of ocean they can generate monster seas.

Chin himself has filled in slightly, yet still reaches from Siberia to Alaska, and is pumping reletively mild air north and then east along the Siberian coast. (Also note the air being pulled off the west Alaska mainland is colder.)  These winds will reduce the ice extent slightly with warmth in a very narrow band, but will reduce the extent far more by driving the thin “baby ice” north from the coasts and crushing it up against the thicker ice. (Click temperature map below to enlarge.)

Chin Nov 7 gfs_t2m_npac_1

While the above map does show how incredibly cold the air over Eastern Siberia is, that air is largely stagnant and incubating colder cold.  If anything is is seeping south towards China and Korea. The “Snout of Igor” you see poking north is largely a residue of damage that has already been done, for the cold was already delivered north.

A glance at the UK Met map on the Atlantic side of the Pole shows Fitz, (to the south of Payat on our DMI map,) has filled in, and only has a pressure of 978 mb.  However, though it has suffered the fate all gales face, it still is enormous.  If you follow the line of the 992 mb isobar, you see it encompasses eastern Norway, northern Scotland, a vast area of the Atlantic, the southernmost tip of Greenland, and most of Iceland.  It is an area roughly the size of the east coast of the USA, holding all the warm air that was over the East Coast of the USA last week, but holding it as a wallowing occlusion, up several thousand feet where no one can enjoy it.  Sorry about that, Europe.  I told that warm air to stay here, but it wouldn’t listen to me.

Until some new gale explodes and kicks this mess in the butt, things look fairly stagnant in Europe, with a few ripples moving into the Mediterranean but most fronts and systems basically stalled.  That makes Payat the big frog in a small pond, and an influential feature, in his wafting of warmer air north of Scandinavia and Westernmost Siberia.

The DMI map does a poor job of showing inland cold, so I’ll show Ryan Maue’s version of GFS data that I get via WeatherBELL. (Click to enlarge.)

Fitz Nov 7 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

In this map (looking straight down at the North Pole) you can see that, just as Chin drove warmth west along the coast of East Siberia, Payat is driving warmth east along the coast of West Siberia.  You can also see that big glob of cold getting squished to the Canadian side, where the North American defenses against cold are putting a last stand.

These defenses are areas of open water, and this map is interesting because you can see the warm (and likely very thin) surface temperatures they create.

One area of open water is just inside the west entrance of the Northwest Passage, which tends to stay open because is it is protected from sea-ice being blown south, (and also owns the reletively warm outflow of the Mackenzie River.)  Other areas are two of the world’s largest and deepest lakes, Great Bear Lake and Great Slave Lake.  All these waters tend to freeze over in November, but before they do they protect people to the south from the full wrath of the north.

But it is coming, even if it isn’t altogether apparent on today’s maps. Wait, watch, and you will see Canada abruptly fill with a big blob of arctic high pressure, in the next few days.

LOCAL VIEW  —JUST THE WAY I LIKE IT;  IE: BORING—

When I was young I yearned for clouds of deep purple, flashing lightning, but now that I’ve grown grey I think I prefer grey.  I’ve decided “boring” is another word for, “peace.”  Furthermore, peace is not an empty thing, but holds a richness all its own.

Today’s map shows that a gentle cold front passed over us. The hint of a secondary low off shore would have caused me grief when I was young, as I would have seen it as a lost chance for a storm to “bomb out,” off shore.  I hungered for typhoons and tornadoes, little understanding what ruin is like. Now I’ve already been there and done that, and today noted the sprinkles grew to showers as that secondary rippled by, and was glad when it turned back to sprinkles, and then gladder to see the west grew ruddy at sunset, with the end of the rain.

The sneak-attack arctic front I worried about yesterday is merely an orange dashed line on today’s map, from Illinois to most northeastern Texas, and that is fine with me.  I don’t need any sneak attacks around here.

The low “Fritz” is a mere memory, a lone isobar in the upper right corner of the map, but that is enough to deflect “Blizson” south, moving toward exit-stage-right, a mere 989 mb weakling low.

Of course, all the mild air the frontal passage is shunting off shore will stream north, and may well combine with the ripple of Blizson and turn into some howling North Atlantic storm.  If that happens, I hope some young man in Iceland who hankers for Typhoons and Tornadoes appreciate a 950 mb low.  He wants life crashing and pounding like a Beethoven symphony. But do I want that? or do I prefer things dull and grey?

So, how was my day?

It was a dull, grey day, mild but turning colder as a front moved through. I drove to work noting no chimney’s smoked. None were burning their hoarded wood. (I guess frugal folk shirk from cheerfulness at times.) The trees, leafless, swung black claws against grey scud, and I thought to myself, “How Novembery!”

Depress? Or promote poetry? Really, how ought a fellow respond to a wet, grey day?

As my truck’s tires hissed across the wet tar I considered the fact I must buy some hay, get goats bred, shovel shit, and saw things are grey, grey, grey. I’ve a job, and must get on it, and haven’t the time to ink a sonnet.

NOVEMBER 8  —MORNING DMI MAPS— THE SURGE

DMI Nov 8 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 8 temp_latest.big (1)

Pretty much everything is still proceding as discussed last night.  The surges of warmth towards the Pole now have created an above average peak in the DMI graph of temperatures-above-80-degrees latitude.  It is important to remember that graph doesn’t measure the very cold air pushed south of 80 degrees towards Canada.  It is also interesting to note that, looking at the green line which shows the average of the past 55 years, you notice an odd uptick right on this date occurs even in the averages.

DMI Nov 8 meanT_2013 (1)

The surge is also causing a down-tick on ice extent graphs.  I hope to find time to think about this later.  The problem is that such graphs don’t measure how much latent heat is lost to space in the dark upper reaches of such storms, nor how much snow adds to the bulk of sea ice, and so on and so forth. Lots to mull over. (Click to enlarge)

DMI Nov 8 icecover_current_new

LOCAL VIEW   —A SNEAK ATTACK—

That boundary between arctic and balmy air that was demoted from a front to an orange, dashed  “trough” from Illonois to Texas on yesterday’s map has been further demoted and now only exists as a “ghost front,” but you sure could feel it sneaking in, early this morning.  There wasn’t much to see, just some scattered mid-level clouds to make the sunrise pretty, but the northwest wind, merely cool after the official front passed through yesterday, became bitter before dawn, a thin wind with a sting, as temperatures sank to 28 (-2 Celsius.)  Nor are they in any hurry to rise above freezing.  It’s a far cry from yesterday when temperatures bounded up to 58 (14 Celsius) by mid-morning.

The build-up of the cold in Canada is sneaky as well.  The map shows no giant high pressure surging south, but you’ll notice the next low, currently in the Canadian Rockies, doesn’t move off to the northeast, but rather takes more of a Alberta Clipper route to the southeast, along the edge of the building cold.

Note meek 991 mb Blizson slipping off this map’s upper right side.  He’s likely to appear in our DMI polar maps as an roaring Atlantic gale, to replace Fitz, in a couple days. Sneaky.

A Sneak Attack satsfc (3)

Last but not least, I snuck a sonnet into my “Local View” last night, even while stating I was too busy to write sonnets.

It’s not so hard to sneak sonnets into prose.  All you need to do is make sure your thirtieth syllable rhymes with your tenth, and your fortieth rhymes with your twentieth. After repeating that three times you end with a couplet, such as “I’ve a job, and must get on it, and haven’t the time to ink a sonnet.”

I learned to to this because, years ago, I discovered that raising an index finger and saying “I have written a poem” was a good way to get large numbers of people to evacuate the premises.  (The only way a modern man can get away with poetry is to be sneaky about it.)

NOVEMBER 8  —DAILY DATA—  CALM DESCENDS 

Our Forkasite decelerated south as northwest winds fade to a calm and the barometer rose, moving south from 79.396°N to 79.308°N, and moving east, west, east, west and east again, from  4.761°W to 4.746°W. Our movement slowed to 6.11 miles south.

Temperatures yoyoed downwards, reaching a high of -19.3°C at 2100z yesterday, (The single reading above minus twenty,)  but ending up at -23.3°C at 1800z today.

I sure wish we could view the landscape after that storm, but don’t suppose we’ll ever know what it looks like.

NOVEMBER 8 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  

DMI Nov 8B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 8B temp_latest.big (1)

With the low I dubbed “Payat” (short for “Pay attention,” because I didn’t, and missed the genesis of this storm,) conquering the Pole, you might think we could sit back and watch a nice, simple zonal pattern develop, however no such effect.  With “Chin” moving north and east from the Aleutians, we are liable to see a splendid example of the Fujiwhara effect, where two storms orbit each other in a counterclockwise fashion, with one storm eventually gobbling up the other.  Such so-called “binary interaction” usually involves a couple of hurricanes out of the reach of jet streams, however I think the Pole is also, in a manner of speaking, out of the reach of jet streams.  So we may see the same thing.

It looks like Chin will gobble up Payat, in the long run, as Chin rolls along the arctic coast of Alaska and then Canada.  However what I am attempting to focus on is how this will warp, distort, and alter the cross polar flow.  Considering the flow currently exists between the two storms, if one absorbs the other it obvious the flow will be maimed.  So where will the next flow develop? My best guess is that it will occur in the lee of Chin.  Chin will basically slam the door on any air coming north through the Bering Strait, and instead the air will blow from Siberia to Alaska across the Bering Strait.

Another thing to watch is the cooling of the influx of warm air in the arctic.  The air has no business being so “mild,” and is in a sense like a cup of hot tea set out on a winter porch railing.  It might be warm to begin with, but its temperature has nowhere to go but down.

Watch all that warm air north of Bering Strait and north of Scandinavia and West Siberia over the next few days.  Without reinforcements, (which do not exist at this point) it can only get colder.  We are seeing a sort of high tide.

Lastly, all the cold air which formerly was lodged over the Pole has gone some place.  Where?  Look south, young man. Look South. (Both into Canada and into Siberia.)

LOCAL VIEW   —GRAUPEL—

Ha!  I’ve been talking like a madman for two days about ridiculous things like “sneaky cold” and “ghost fronts,” and now it turns out I’m not quite as dumb as I look!

Look back to this morning’s map, where I pointed out there was no note of the “ghost front” I’d been tracking.  Now check out this evening’s map, and please note the orange-dashed-line, indicating a trough which has passed over New England and is now just off shore.  (click to enlarge.)

A sneak satsfc (3)

Of course, one could say the orange-dashed-line did not exist on the morning map because it developed off shore during the course of the day.  I won’t argue with that, because I have to deal with a pack of children on my farm, and I’m too busy dealing with the outlandish arguments children dream up.

I also have to deal with the unintended consequences of well-meaning beaurocrats who say teachers ought skip school, to have “workshops.”  This means the tax-paying parents are faced with going to work on a day when the kids don’t go to school.  Who is to care for the kids?  You got it: little old me must care, though I’m a guy who would rather be herding goats and planting radishes and writing sonnets, but who somehow wound up a “Child Care Professional.”

I also have to deal with a “fire code” written by someone who thinks a farmer is too stupid to know when he ought burn leaves or a field of weeds, and instead ought pay a fee to get a “permit.” Never mind that I don’t even know the guy and he never had the decency to come talk to me.  I just can’t farm as I’ve always farmed, and that is that: I can’t burn a single leaf on my farm without paying him.

So I dealt with it, and entertained kids with a nice, very-safe campfire that warmed us as we cooked and got fat all day.  We even fried some shrimp.  How many Childcare centers offer fried shrimp, by a campfire?

I knew the fire was safe because of yesterday’s grey-day rain, which drenched everything, and also knew a fire was important, (unless you prefer children huddled indoors,) because I knew a ghost-front was coming through. ( I mentioned the thin, cruel wind this morning, and it didn’t gentle much as the day went by.)

It was a day of purple, rolling cumulus, mostly cloudy but allowing flashes of brief sunshine. The most purple cumulous threw down smatterings of neat stuff, not quite as strange as Dr. Seuss’s “Oobleck,” but so outlandish it seemed a bit like Dr. Seuss all the same.  It is fluffy white pompoms that pelt from the sky, called “graupel.”

When an ordinary snowflake falls through air loaded with super-cooled water, every edge gets frosty, just as stuff in an old fashioned freezer got frosty, (before they added the frost-free gizmos.)  The growing frost makes the snowflake get larger and rounder and fall faster.  Even as it falls, the super-cooled water continues to build frost on its outer edges, until it it is as round as a hailstone, but far softer.  Some can grow as large as a kernel of corn.

In any case, small children seem to think it is rather cool when all these frosty pompoms start pelting them from the sky, and run about gleeful.  I thought it was rather cool myself, and was glad I was expecting a ghost front.  If I was attending to the forecast on the radio I might not have been as prepared.  I might not have bothered face the legal rigmarole of lighting a fire and making a warm place where children could eat shrimp, french fries, hot dogs, and steak tips, and run around in a cold and swirling wind getting pelted by graupel.

How many Childcare facilities offer the experience of graupel?

Think of it it this way:  I was only dealing with seventeen kids, but they got to laugh and play and enjoy childhood.  In my humble opinion, many other children grow up deprived. And is a child who is deprived all that different from a child who is abused?

Some other child care facilities are like small prisons. They are boxes with fenced-in postage-stamp playgrounds of hygienic concrete, where children are allowed to slouch about like convicts for an allotted time and then called back to their cells.   They never get to run about a pasture laughing, getting pelted by pompoms of graupel.

Why?  Is it not at least partially because the owners of other Childcare facilities never question the GFS computer generated forecast, or the GFS maps, or the bureaucrats, or the fire codes, and, in their obedience to inferior authority, they have basically abdicated from the obligation inherent in having a mind, which is to think for yourself?

NOVEMBER 9  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  HIGHWAY ROBBERY

DMI Nov 9 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 9 temp_latest.big (1)

Payat over the Pole, Fitz off the coast of Norway, and Chin over the Siberian side of Bering Strait are all 982 mb lows, and the dance at the Pole seems well choreographed and nicely balanced, however computer models are still suggesting Chin will rudely gobble up Payat by noon tomorrow.

The isotherms show the Atlantic flow curving north of Scandivania  and the hooking back up to the Pole.  In a sense the Pole is stealing our milder air and chilling it. I think I would prefer a nice, zonal flow, with the cold air staying up where it belongs, and the milder air staying down here.  We have little enough mild air as it is, and for the Pole to take any is highway robbery.

NOVEMBER 9  —DAILY DATA—

South 79.308°N to 79.203°N, and west from 4.746°W to 4.816°W. We drifted 7.34 miles with no wind.  There must be a current down here.

Temperatures rise from -23.3°C at 1800z yesterday to -15.9°C at 1200z today, and then fell back down to -22.7°C at 1800z.  With no wind, changes that large make me imagine a wide lead of open water opening up, black water in deep purple darkness, and warming the air before crunching shut.

With no pictures or even satellite shots, I can imagine all sorts of stuff.  Maybe there is no wind reported because the wind vane and anemometer toppled over into a crack.

NOVEMBER 8  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Nov 9B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 9B temp_latest.big (1)

NOVEMBER 10  —DMI MORNING MAPS— 

DMI Nov 10 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 10 temp_latest.big (1)

“Payat” is being absorbed by “Chin.”  This will disrupt polar flow and disrupt the import of cold into Canada.  In fact Canada may briefly export cold north out over the Pole.  That is good news for me, because we have enough heading down our way already.  The USA will get a big arctic high, and then will get a break, as the arctic “recharges.”

(I love that word “recharges,” which I first heard used by Joseph D’Aleo of WeatherBELL.  It does a great job of describing.)

Watch how the air cools over the Pole.  Already the isotherms have changed from green to green-blue, indicating a five degree drop in the air sitting there.

Fitz looks like it will stay relatively weak, as it moves past Norway and drifts towards the Pole.  Chin will prowl the coast of Alaska, heading east to the Canadian arctic coast.  The next big storm to effect our Forkasite, (and perhaps sink it,) is likely to be Blizson, which was a weakling as it passed north of USA.  It is likely to explode south of Greenland, and head up between Greenland and Iceland.

LOCAL VIEW   —another sneak—

Sorry I can’t write much.  I’m suffering a cold and have a lot of low IQ work to do, like shovel stables.  My hope is the dust in the stables holds bacteria that kills the common cold.

Blizson is off the map, with some isobars denting our upper right corner.  A clipper-like low has dipped down from Canada to the Great Lakes and now is curving up the St. Lawrence Seaway.  We are in a “warm sector” which hardly counts as a warm sector. You can see the fellow who drew the map didn’t even include a warm front.  Behind this storm, which I’ll dub “Sneak,” is a reinforcement of cold northwest winds.  Further upstream is further reinforcements, with the front just dipping down into Montana from Canada.  This is the major cold I’ve been expecting. (click map to enlarge.)

A sneak 2 satsfc (3)

It was interesting that a couple runs of the European computer model showed a storm blowing up off the east coast next Wednesday, with snow as far south as Atlanta, and that model run went “viral.”  There was chatter all over the place about “the storm.”  Now the storm doesn’t appear on any models, and the chatter is starting to shift towards scorning forecasts.

I had no  idea people in the blogasphere were so educated about computer model runs.

NOVEMBER 10  —DAILY DATA— 

Our faithful Forkasite continued south, from 79.203°N to 79.075°N, and west from 4.816°W to 4.900°W, for a day’s travel of 8.95 miles.  Temperatures remained low, sinking from -22.7°C at 1800z yesterday to -26.6°C at 0600z today, before bouncing up to -19.0°C for a hot noontime luncheon, and then falling back to -23.0°C at 1800z.

Winds were reported as calm until they abruptly jumped to 18 mph during the hot noontime luncheon, and then slacking back to 10 mph.  That sounds slightly suspicious to me.  Perhaps the anemometer was frozen, and then broke free.

Despite the cold temperatures, we are getting to a point where we are far enough south for accidents to occur.  Should our Forkasite abruptly go silent, I expect you all to be big about it.  No wailing and sobbing, please.

NOVEMBER 10 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  

DMI Nov 10B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 10B temp_latest.big (1)

Chin is absorbing Payat as it drifts east along the north coast of Alaska. Fitz is weakening north of Scandinavia, perhaps giving eastern parts some north winds, but it looks likely Scandivavia will be raked by southwest winds in the near future, as storms pass to the north.  The weakling Blizson has grown to a 952 mb bully south of Greenland, and now is no longer forecast to head up to our Forkasite, but rather to take aim at the waters just northwest of Norway. Even though he will weaken as he gets there he is setting the trend, and the following storm, (which I suppose will be “Sneak,”) is forcast to be an absurdly deep monster as it passes north of Norway, with a pressure getting down near 930 mb.  I’ll have to see that to believe it.  It likely is one of those fantastic storms that only exist in the virtual world  of computer models.  However the fact it even appears likely means Sweden won’t get any east winds from Siberia in the near future.  A southwest flow seems likely.

The air over the pole  continued to cool, and already the DMI graph of temperatures up there is starting a dive:

DMI Nov 10 meanT_2013 (1)

NOVEMBER 11  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 11 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 11 temp_latest.big (1)

The features that stand out this morning are 550 mb Blizson just west of Iceland, and the west winds closing down both entrance and exit to the Pole from western Siberia clear around to Canada.  For the time being, the door has slammed shut, in terms of air coming up through Bering Strait, or pouring down through Canada, and the primary entrance region will be the southwest flow under Blizson as he moves northeast up towards the north coast of Norway.

The air off the north coast of Alaska is relatively mild, but the very cold air that moved south there last week, combined with the west winds now, have filled up the entrance of the Northwest Passage with ice around a half foot thick.

There is a low inland and south of the central Siberian coast.  It is moving into  very cold, thirty-below air in Eastern Siberia.  We’ll have to watch to see if that low has the strength to use its east-side south-winds to budge the cold north up into the Arctic Sea, and the Snout of Igor reappears.  In the mean time all the air over the arctic will be home-growing its own cold.

The blob of air that moved south from the arctic last week is currently giving the west coast of Hudson Bay sub zero (sub -17.77 Celsius) north winds, and for the first time this year the Canadian ice-cover map is showing ice on the small bays and inlets of Hudson Bay’s west shore.

That air is headed down towards me.  I’d like to duck the cold by flying south, but I’m not a duck.

LOCAL VIEW   —HERE COMES THE COLD—

(click to enlarge)

A sneak 3 satsfc (3)

About the only good thing about having a cough and cold is that I get to meditate on maps.  Of course, I also am in a sour mood, and the maps can irritate the heck out of me at times.  If they aren’t irking me by not behaving the way I want them to, then the models are irking me by malfunctioning, or perhaps the manner the map was drawn irks me.

For example, the man or computer who drew the above map again wiped out the cold front that passed through here yesterday, only including a snippet of a cold front east of Florida, though that front obviously continues northeast and then north to the low “Sneak” just east of Nova Scotia.  Furthermore, it continues west as a stationary front and then northwest as a warm front where they have that orange dashed line from north Texas up to Nebraska. Or so think I.  I like my air masses in nice capsules made by frontal boundaries.

(Likely I should take some more aspirin.  I shouldn’t let these little things get to me.)

In any case, the air mass after that is the one that means business.  On his blog at WeatherBELL Joe D’Aleo pointed out the below zero air (Fahrenheit) is right down to the towns just above the Dakota-Canada border, this morning.  It has taken a sly trajectory from the Queen Elizabeth Islands straight south, skirting the warm waters of Hudson Bay by coming south to the west of it, and avoiding the Canadian arctic lakes, (though I suppose Lake Winnipeg is having an effect.)  So it is actually colder “down south” in the Dakotas than the arctic coast of Alaska and Canada, where west winds are bringing temperatures up around 20 to 25 (Fahrenheit) east.  Though these temperatures are “mild” they are still below the freezing point of salt water and will likely get colder, so I’m not expecting any break-up of the ice as occurred on the European side.  However I do expect this flow, south of “Chin” and north of the big high pressure bearing down on us here, to nip the cross polar flow for around three days, before the north wind on the back side of Chin resumes the flow with a vengeance.

I’ve been thinking about a sort of whip-lash that must be created when arctic winds pour south into Alaska, and then abruptly are sucked out, and then come roaring back again.  Into my mind’s eye come various images:  Water moving in and out of tidal pools at the beach;  waves made by small girls whipping their jump rope up and down when it lies slack on the playground turf….and then I think maybe I ought to take my temperature.

In any case, with a ridge developing in the west and a trough in the east, for a few days we again we will see the pattern we got stuck in, back in 1976-77.  What will be interesting to watch is whether or not it becomes more established, or whether the western ridge keeps coming east.

Also it will be interesting to watch “Sneak” as it moves away.  It was only a 1000 mb low in the above map, but already down to 993 mb last time I checked.  It is likely to bomb out big time.

NOVEMBER 11  —DAILY DATA— Past 79 degrees north latitude, southbound.

Our Forkasite continued south, from 79.075°N to 78.966°N, and began drifting back to the east, from  4.900°W to 4.788°W, due to light winds (5 mph) backing to the Northwest.  Movement was 7.71 miles. We have passed 79 degrees north latitude.

Temperatures remained steadily cold. We reached our 24-hour-period’s low of -25.2°C at midnight, and reached the day’s high of  -22.2°C at 0600z, and were at -22.5°C at 1800z.

The Navy drift maps show a great arc of ice, stretching from Severnya Zemyla, curving north of Frans Josef Land and  Svalbard, pouring down into Fram Strait, all moving at two thirds of a mile a hour, (which is fast for arctic ice.) While this does not include the major body of arctic ice, it is increasing the ice in Fram Strait a lot, and the ice now extends down past Scoresbysund (which has some new Inuit name I haven’t learned to spell) which is the part of Greenland poking east into Denmark Strait, northwest of Iceland.  To me it seems a remarkable increase of ice from early September, when it was below average.

NOVEMBER 11 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Nov 11B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 11B temp_latest.big (1)

“Chin” is starting to fade slightly, cut off from Pacific moisture.  Watch the air north of Alaska get colder. Fitz has enough Altlantic moisture to survive, and will dance the Fujiwhara around the Pole with Chin, as his air cools as well.  The monster gale Blizson will cross north of Iceland and elgongate and weaken, bringing the next pocket of Atlantic warmth and moisture north to Norway.  Scandinavia will be the primary entrance region, and likely will be milder than normal, though this does not mean they will escape snow, especially in the north.  A long,curving fetch from Finland along the coast of Siberia to Alaska is the beginning of a new flow that will again make Canada an exit region.

A quick look at the UK Met map shows an interesting feature over Italy, making Mount Etna a strange mix of exploding red lava and swirling snow.  As this low fills in a faint reflection will head along the southern route across the steppes, a Chinthree to follow Chin and Chintwo (now in central Siberia.) But I think I want Etna in the name, so I’ll dubb it Chninthreeetna, but that’s too long, so I’ll shorten it to “Chet.”

A sneak 3 Etna 9975209

Blizson is still a 956 mb gale in this map, but occluded with much energy moving east as a zipper.  In the lower left Sneak is just sneaking into view, already deepening to 988 mb low from the 1000mb low it was this morning.

Dr. Ryan Maue’s version of the GFS map, available at WeatherBELL, is a better view of the North Atlantic: (Double click for full enlargement)

Chin 3 Nov 11 gfs_mslp_uv10m_natl_1

In this map, from six hours later, Blizson is stretched out from one side of the Atlantic to the other, with a long fetch of easterly gales to the north and a long fetch of westerly gales to the south.  The westerly gales won’t be all that warm, as the source region is the southern tip of Greenland, however Sneak is already showing signs of sneaking some warmth north, as it’s east-side south-winds dig further south.  Each storm that charges across the Atlantic towards Scandinavia will be different, as we remain in this pattern, and each will need to be judged on its own merits.

NOVEMBER 12  —DMI MORNING MAPS— The Question

The arctic storms have cleverly formed a question-mark, as they dance about the Pole.  “Chin” is approaching the Canadian arctic islands, with the ghost of Payat curving around the Pole and south to Fritz and the stem of the the question-mark is formed by the elongated Blizson stretching down to Iceland.  In a very general sense these lows form a spiral of winds entering the the Arctic Ocean north of Scadinavia, cooling and curling around the Pole while ingesting some additives from Siberia, and then pooling north of Canada, and perhaps bulging south as a new arctic high for the USA.

But what is the question?

The question is, “Is this just a transient autumnal pattern, as we move towards the winter’s pattern?  Or is it a sign of things to come this winter?”

Both Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo, over at WeatherBELL, have been pointing out past winters that had a set up similar to this one.  One important thing to notice is that the Pacific is not in either an extreme El Nino nor La Nina, both of which seem to generate energetic Pacific winds that cross the USA and blunt the arctic’s southward thrusts.  Also the warmth in the ENSO is away from Peru,  in something of an El Nino Modoki pattern. Mr. Bastardi also pointed out a warmth anomaly in the northeast pacific, while Mr. D’Aleo has pointed out interesting patterns involving solar cycles.  To skip all the intricate details, it boils down to a pattern like the one I’ve been talking about, that occurred during the winter of 1976-77.

While this would be very cold for the eastern USA, I think it tends to be more of a back-and-forth winter for western Europe.  A quick search didn’t turn up much, regarding that winter in Europe, except for the fact it was hard on the spruce plantations of Norway, due to warm-ups followed by freezes killing the tender tips of spruce branches.

EL NINO MODOKI 

Here is a very simplified chart of the four main ENSO patterns. (Click to enlarge.)

El Nino Modoki 461481a-f2.2

I think this is over-simplified, and likely the fellows who deeply study the ENSO would roll their eyes.  As we grow wiser there may turn out to be more variations, and in a few years the chart will have eight different ENSO states.  However it is a great improvement from the situation when I was a small boy, when there were basically zero states that anyone but Peruvian fishermen and a few wild-eyed meteorologists knew about.  I still remember the excitement that surrounded the emergence of the El Nino into public consciousness back in the 1960’s. For a while there was no talk of the La Nina, but eventually it also filtered into public awareness, though mostly the focus remained on the El Nino.  However I can recall being baffled by the fact an El Nino did not always have the same effect.

In my careless and haphazard way I had noted, though not a scientist and basically a bum, that some El Nino’s had given us snowy winters. (As a bum I had discovered a warm place to hide from winter cold was a public library.  I may have been a bum, but I was a very literate bum.)  Using a boyish logic, I figured if some weak El Ninos had given us a cold and snowy winter, a really big one would give us blizzards. FAIL.

The 1998 El Nino was an extreme event, with the above average temperatures piled up against the coast of Peru.  It lead to a mild winter across much of the USA, with Pacific air flooding coast to coast at times.  This was so different from other, less intence El Nino’s that it led not only bums like me, but genuine scientists to a more careful examination of the idea that some El Ninos were “the same, but different,” (and the Japanese word for that is “Modoki.”)

It turns out it makes a difference where the heat is centered.  (I can imagine some meteorologists smacking their foreheads and saying, “Duh!!!”)  If you center the heat several thousand miles west of Peru, it will create a different pattern than when the heat anomaly is right on the coast.

One aspect of this different pattern is the tendency for a ridge to be encouraged in the west of the USA.  Today’s 500 mb map has some of the qualities of a Modoki pattern. (This is Dr. Ryan Maue’s map from the WeatherBELL site. Click to enlarge, and click again to expand further.)

El Nino Modoki gfs_z500_sig_noram_1

Often these waves and ridges ripple their merry way around the planet, giving us our typical spells of sunny weather followed by spells of acclimate weather.  However what I look for is for the ridge and trough to get stuck in a certain position.  In some ways it is like a standing wave, but exactly how it happens is very intersting to watch.  For example, the GFS model shows that strong ridge on the west coast coming east, but dramatically weakening even as the ridge on the west coast reestablishes itself, giving us a 500 mb map in three days like this:

El Nino Modoki gfs_z500_sig_noram_13

In this map it can be seen that even though the ridge came east, it is so much weaker it will not generate as great a southwest flow, or as much of a warm spell. Meanwhile the next cold spell is already pouring down from Alaska, to the west.

In the heart of winter such a pattern gives you nasty cold snaps, and then a slightly warmer time where nothing even thaws.  This is what I yearned for, when young, but now dread.

LOCAL VIEW  —A DUSTING—

I awoke feeling hopeful that my cold wasn’t going to kill me after all, and pottered about getting coffee as as the blackness out the window gave way to grey.  It was my wife who first looked out, and muttered, “It’s snowing.”  I glanced out at the whirl, and immediately thought of things such as salting the front walk of our Childcare, and where the heck did I put the snow-shovel last April?  Also I clicked the weather radar on my computer:

Dusting rad_ne_640x480 (1)

The radar reassured me the cold front was pressing south with no bulges made by ripples on the front that might blow up into storms, and the snow would swiftly end with no more than a dusting.  Then I checked the map:

Dusting satsfc (3)

The map reassured me as well, as it shows no ripples on the passing front.  However the high pressure is building, now up to 1047 mb, and it looks very cold.  I looked north, wondering if “Chin” truly had cut the flow from Siberia, or whether the flow was going to be reestablished more swiftly than I expected.  To see this I need Ryan Maue’s superior WeatherBELL map of the same GFS data.  (While the above map shows isobars and clouds, Ryan’s map shows wind speed 10 meters up; (you can select other maps as well, that show other things.))  (Double click to fully enlarge.)

Dusting gfs_mslp_uv10m_noram_1

One reason I like this map is that it includes a larger area. You can see “Sneak,” heading off Labrador , now down to 984 mb, but more importantly sucking up much more southerly Atlantic warmth for Scandinavia and eventually the Pole, and our Forkasite.

However more important to me down in my neck of the woods is “Chin,” smack dab in the center of the top margin.  His west-side north winds are now pouring air into Alaska, and if you follow the 1014 mb isobar you’ll see that flow curves down to Hudson Bay and then down to New Hampshire, passing between my back door and the chicken coop.

Hmm. Next I’ll check Ryan’s temperature map, to see if the air is all that cold.  After all, Chin dragged some Pacific air up with him.  Maybe the air coming south isn’t that cold:

Dusting gfs_t2m_noram_1

(As always, click and then click again to fully enlarge.)  One thing I immediately notice is how the current cold high has warmed.  It held below zero air yesterday, but now the lowest I note is a ten degree reading in Iowa. (That is -12 Celsius.) So the land is still warming these highs as they come south.  In fact you can see how “warm” not only Hudson Bay is, but also Lake Winnepeg, Great Slave Lake, Lesser Slave Lake, and Great Bear Lake.  There is also some bare ground absorbing weak sunlight.  Once all the lakes freeze and the ground is snow covered, the arctic highs won’t be in such a hurry to warm, and can even cool, in the dark depths of December.

However I can look all the way up the pipeline to the Arctic Sea, and see no sub zero readings (Fahrenheit.)  (The sub-zero readings in Alaska are high up in mountains.) In fact it is colder in Iowa than on the north coast of Canada.

So perhaps we will get a bit of a break, after this current arctic shot passes through, but then I look out my window and see the dusting of snow isn’t melting, and temperatures are not rising.  Also I remind myself the snow was falling this morning when temperatures hadn’t fallen below freezing.  So I can’t use the excuse, “The weather will be better in a couple days” as an excuse to loaf, (though I confess it is one of my favorites.)

NOVEMBER 12   —DAILY DATA—  

Our Forkasite continues south towards its eventual doom, death, destruction and downright indignity. In fact it is getting hard to write this section of this post, because I’ve gotten rather fond of this chunk of ice.  It is a bit like a grandparent: You know they have to go but hope they hang around a bit longer.

In any case, we moved south from 78.966°N to 78.834°N, and east from 4.788°W to 4.710°W at 0900z, where-after we retrograded back to 4.723°W, because the light northwest winds veered to just a hair east of due north. Our total movement for the day was 9.2 miles, barely east of due south.  (These small distances may not seem like much, but they add up. Since we finally succeeded in crossing 84 degrees north latitude for the final time last September we have traveled over 350 miles south.)

Temperatures remained fiercely cold, staying stubbornly below minus-twenty despite the proximity of milder air.  We were at -22.5°C at 1800z yesterday and are at -22.2°C at 1800z today, in the interim achieving a low of -23.6°C at 2100z yesterday and a high of -20.7°C at noon today.

At these temperatures is is absurd to talk about melting.  Every bit of exposed water cracked open by stress forms a swift skim of ice, and the bergs themselves grow so cold they not only grow ice outwards at every edge but also grow ice down from their bottoms and become thicker.  The “volume” of the ice, (which some make a big deal about,) is most definitely growing, (in this specific time and place.)  However it is not slowing the southward progress of our Forkasite in the slightest. We are headed for warmer waters, and just as your favorite grandmother, (the one who bakes the best cookies,)  must some day kick the bucket, so our favorite Forkasite must someday dissolve.

When our Forkasite melts like a sandcastle before a rising tide, some will state it is a proof of Global Warming and a reason to institute bizarre taxes.  Therefore I hope for weather events as bizarre as those taxes.  Three spring to mind.  One is a historical example where the sea ice expanded to the north coast of Iceland, creating a sort of ice-jam and bringing the flow of ice through Fram Strait to a screaming halt.  The second was a huge discharge of ice through Fram Strait, which so filled the north Atlantic with icebergs that some were washing ashore on the Western beaches of Ireland like peculiar, white driftwood. (It would be very cool if our Forkasite was still reporting from a beach in Ireland.) And Third, most boring, but not least, is that there have been years that the flow of ice down the east coast of Greenland has been so thick it froze to the shore, even on occasion down to Greenland’s southern tip, and remained stuck there well into the next summer’s melt, and even, in more northern areas, remained stuck right through a summer’s melt and had to wait for the following summer to be freed.

In all three cases the main effect will be to make bizarre carbon taxes look utterly dunderheaded.  (They already are dunderheaded, but crafty salesmen can sell some fools a Brooklyn Bridge.)

In actual fact, weather will likely be more normal.  Our Forkasite will go to its ordinary demise, a bit later than usual, which is like a grandfather or grandmother going to their ordinary demise, at age ninety.  And, just as the passing of your grandparent is no reason to raise taxes, so is the passing of out Forkasite further south and later than normal a reason to raise taxes.

NOVEMBER 12  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— The question remains

DMI Nov 12B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 12B temp_latest.big (1)

Looking at the map of isobars, one sees the question-mark persisting, and one must ask the question, “Is this a hint of a pattern we shall see endure during the winter?”

The southwest flow would be nice for Europe, which deserves a break after the nasty winters they have had to endure.  However the moistness of the flow might make the warmth produce deep snows in northern and eastern areas.

I’m unsure about Asia.  I lack experience. Merely guessing from the actions of “Chin,” the storms moving west across the Steppes would be minor and dry,  only exploding when they reached the Pacific, and Asia would have less snow but possibly very cold temperatures.

However the way the isobars now direct air straight from Siberia to Canada is much like 1976-77, and does not bode well for advocates of Global Warming in Washington DC. In January 1977 they had some mornings in the American capital that were close to forty degrees below normal.  Even if they attempt to be crafty, and forebear using the words “Global Warming” and switch to “Climate Change,”  the net result of all their reptilian slithering is likely to be an outraged public whipping a snowball into their snoots.

However I am just a grumpy old man, and my main concern is staying warm.  That was darn hard to do, even as a young man, and how I will do it as an old man I just don’t know.

The question-mark even shows in the isotherms of the DMI temperature map, however there is an appendage of cold back towards Siberia, as if the question-mark has a “Mohawk” haircut in a strong headwind. Those isotherms bounding blue-cold are indicative of the very cold temperatures the cross-polar-flow is once again threatening to drag from Siberia to Canada. However when you look at the hodgepodge of isotherms over Siberia it is hard to make sense in the way you can make sense of the nice, neat isotherms over Greenland.

Therefore let us once again resort to one of Ryan Maue’s amazing maps from WeatherBell, showing us both the cold over Greenland, at altitudes above 10,000 feet, and Siberia, at far lower altitudes: (Click twice for full enlargement.)

Cross Polar Nov 12 gfs_t2m_arctic_1

Greenland is at the top right and Siberia at the bottom left of this map, and at first Greenland looks far colder.  However if you drop minus-forty air from ten thousand feet to one thousand feet, can it match Siberia’s minus-twenty air?  No, because air warms as it sinks.  (I’ll let you do the calculations.)

Another thing to consider is that Siberia is gigantic, compared to Greenland.  What you want, if you want a nice, warm winter, is for the snows to be late falling on Siberia.  Then, at least, Greenland has an advantage of being snow-covered while Siberia is brown.  However this year the snows fell early on Siberia, and they have expanded.  Now consider, if you will, the vast area of white Siberia has, compared to the somewhat small area of Greenland, on the snow-cover map below:

Cross Polar Nov 12 ims2013316

Currently Siberia is a short-term icecap.  It generates cold the same way long-term icecaps such as Greenland do.  Greenland can get all haughty and say, “I have been here hundreds of thousands of years, and you will be gone next July,” but it doesn’t change the “Now.”  And, without sitting cross-legged and chanting, “Aummm,” I can tell you the “Now” is that Siberia is four times the size of Greenland, and far more worth my attention.

(I digress, but you have to be careful with how maps warp areas on the edges.  Many maps make high latitudes appear bigger than they are, so that Greenland looks larger than South America.  You should always check the actual areas, in terms of square miles. Unfortunately an Alarmist neglected to do this, and produced a comparison of Greenland and Africa which suggested they were the same size, in their zeal to stress the hugeness of Greenland’s icecap and the dangers of having it melt.  The above map errs in the opposite direction, making Africa appear huge and Greenland appear piddly.  If I was in a tit-for-tat mood, I could use the above map to produce a comparison showing Greenland was the size of Sudan, and debate Alarmists with that.  But that would be stupid. It is better to always check the actual square miles you are dealing with.

If you bother do that, I think you’ll see Siberia is enormous.  It may lack a voting majority, but it has a meteorological majority.  The last thing I want to see is that huge, cold-generation-monster Igor looking my way.

Best would be if he discharged all his cold southeast into the Pacific, generating enormous gales, but hurting few.

Best for me, but not for my brothers, would be if Igor discharged his cold east into Scandinavia and Western Europe, or south into China. However right now Igor seems to be looking across the Pole, right at me.

The silver lining is: At least this is good for my brothers.

NOVEMBER 13  —DMI MORNING MAPS— The question remains

DMI Nov 13 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 13 temp_latest.big (1)

Despite the influx of Atlantic mildness and moisture northeast over Scandinavia and along the Siberian coast, the Pole as a whole continues to get colder. The storm “Sneak” is just appearing at seven o’clock in the lower left, as a spot punctuating our question mark.  Computer models continue to see Sneak tracking up north of Norway, but no longer turn him into a enormous 930 mb gale up there, but rather see a more minor 984 mb low.  The more interesting feature to watch will be the southwest flow beneath Sneak, associated with high pressure both in Sneak’s warm sector and also behind Sneak.  Guess we should take a quick peak at the UK Met map:  (click to enlarge)

Sneak Nov 13 10008280

The biggest difference I can see between Sneak and Blizson (who is up above Norway, where Sneak is heading,) is that Blizson’s “warm sector” held air from south of Greenland, while Sneak has brought warmer air up from warmer waters.  I wonder if they notice any difference up in Scotland.

It continues to look like the building cold will exit south over Canada.  My main hope is that it thrusts southwest into the Pacific, or thrusts southeast over Hudson Bay and into the Atlantic over Newfoundland, rather than heading straight south for the USA.

LOCAL VIEW   — A TASTE OF WINTER—

(CLICK TO ENLARGE)

A TASTE satsfc (3)

I am going to pretend I know nothing of the arctic as I look at this map.  I’m just a boy of twelve, back in 1965, hungrily scanning the map for signs of winter, of snow storms, of something that would cancel school and free me to roam the outdoors.

The most obvious feature is the huge high pressure plowing all the way down to Oklahoma,  with its arctic front all the way down to the Gulf of Mexico.  My eyes would implore the Gulf to brew up a storm and fling it up the cold front as a nor’easter, and I’d urge the front to slow down, so that storm wouldn’t run out to sea.  I was ever hopeful for calamity.  However perhaps I’d be in a bitter mood, with hope punctured by some boyhood trauma, and I’d face the reality: No storm was brewing, and the front was sliding far out to sea.

Next I’d look north for “clippers,” or even mere impulses swung south from a low parked up in Newfoundland.  I’d see slight dents in isobars, (better marked on modern maps, as the orange-dashed line swinging down across the St Lawrence Valley, and the other one moving from Lake Superior to Lake Huron,) as straws my hope could cling to.  I’d beg the impulses to suck up moisture from the Great Lakes, develop tiny warm fronts and cold fronts, and then to impossibly stall just south of Cape Cod, and explode into giant storms.  Anything! Anything to get me out of Algebra class!

Of course I was setting myself up for heart break, for 99% of the time the storms I longed for didn’t develop. The silver lining was that I became aware of other patterns that did develop, and that sunny days were not all that bad, and that Algebra could be endured.

One boyish rule I had was that a big surge of cold weather was often followed by a surge of warmer weather.  A cold wave was like a wave rushing up onto a beach, and the further the wave came up the beach the bigger the undertow was, going back the other way.  If you look at the above map, you can already see a surge of west winds developing, that will rush east over the top of the arctic high as it warms and weakens.

As a boy I’d urge the cold weather to  stand up the the warmth invading from the Pacific.  I was starved for skating, sledding, ice-fishing, and all the joys of winter.  I would have frowned if anyone stated I was like a cheerleader in pompoms, rah-rah-ing for the cold, but I practically was that.  Deep gloom would descend on my soul when my side lost and the warmth won, and west winds came rushing through.

However I discovered, at some point, that if I climbed a tall hemlock atop a hill in such a wind,  and clung to the top as it swayed, and gazed into the wind, I could pretend I was up the masts of a clipper ship, sailing into the golden west, and leaving Algebra far, far behind.

This sport was so cool that soon I converted other boys to clinging to the tops of hemlocks with me, rather than doing homework right after school. I had decided warm west winds were not so bad after all, as neighborhood mothers concluded I might not be a good influence.

I also unconsciously came to expect that, a few days after cold northwest gales, there would milder southwest gales.  However that was one thing that made the winter of 1976-77 so unique.  The high pressure cells came rolling down from Alaska one after another, and the winds remained fairly steadily to the north side of west.

Looking at the above map, I see no immediate reinforcements to the huge cell that has come swooping down upon us, and therefore expect a break before the next arctic high gets organized.  I can see that development without knowing that “Chin” interrupted the cross-polar flow by rolling in across the Bering Strait and down the arctic north-coast of Alaska.

NOVEMBER 13  —DAILY DATA— 

Our Forkasite moved south from 78.834°N to 78.757°N, and east 4.723°W to 4.690°W, for a movement of 5.36 miles in the past 24 hours.  The slow-down in our southward progress is likely due to light winds, and also the fact the winds have seemingly backed all the way around to a little south of west.  This is the first wind with a southerly componant we’ve seen in a while, and may explain the uptick in temperatures in the final 1800z reading. Temperatures, which began at -22.2°C at 1800z yesterday, were still at the day’s low of -24.0°C at noon today, but then rose to -19.7°C by 1800z.

The shifting light winds are due to a very weak ridge of high pressure between the departing Blizson and the nearing Sneak.

NOVEMBER 13  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Nov 13B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 13B temp_latest.big (1)

Had to go to a class tonight and am too tired to analyse maps.  Note new low up in Bering Strait. Will this one sever cross polar flow like last one did?

NOVEMBER 14  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 14 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 14 temp_latest.big (1)

Our polar lows are running out of gas, as the warm air that fuels them is exhausted and becomes cold.  Chin is much weaker, and I think a dim memory of Payat is just north of the New Siberian Islands. Fitz has revived a little North of Severnya Zemyla, and Blizson is north of Finland.  All four will weaken and drift back across the Pole towards Canada, as Sneak approaches, bringing a full tank of gas, and also a new storm in his wake, which I will dub “Combo” because it is made of a weak low that came across cental Canada, and also a piece of Chin that slide down through the Queen Elizabeth Islands and to the west of Baffin Island.

(I suppose you could call these weak storms Chinson and Sneakson, but one brought minus-twenty air south as the other brought Atlantic moisture and mildness up, and they created an abrupt storm when they combined, so I’m calling them Combo)

Combo will attempt to squirt around the southern tip of Greenland and pursue Sneak, eventually combining with Sneak into a bigger Combo.  Models now have a big, sub-940 mb storm north of Norway, just southeast of Svalbard, again, by tomorrow night.  It’s funny how the models had that storm there a week ago, but then vanished it a couple of days ago, but now have it back.

The low coming through Bering Strait I’ll dub Chintoo, and it will cut the cross polar flow briefly before that flow really gets going next week.  So I’d saw that down here we’ll see a break in the cold, another cold shot, another break, and then a more serious and lasting cold blast.

Our Forkasite will get some calm and perhaps even some south wind, before Combo blasts it with north winds.

LOCAL VIEW   —WEST WINDS—

It was 17, (-8 Celsius,) yesterday morning, and temperatures hovered around freezing all day as the arctic high crested over us, but as night fell very high clouds made the bright moon milky, and though temperatures dropped to 24, (-4 Celsius,) by bedtime, when I awoke this morning they had risen back to freezing, and the winds were southwest.  So the huge high packed a single punch, and now retires,  Temperatures are up to 45, (+7 Celsius,) and it is sunny, with the winds west and light. So I’ve got to stay outside while the good weather lasts, but thought I’d quickly insert yesterday evenings and this mornings maps, to show how swiftly a bitter cold blast can turn to a westerly blessing.

A TASTE 2 satsfc (3)A TASTE 3 satsfc (3)

NOVEMBER 14  —DAILY DATA—  

We moved south from 78.757°N to 78.707°N, and east from 4.690°W to 4.648°W, for a total movement of 3.52 miles.  Winds were light and variable, mostly from the west, and the pressure was just starting to fall.  Temperatures hit their high of -17.9°C at 2100z yesterday, but had fallen to -20.8°C by midnight, hit their low of -24.1°C at 0900z today, and had only risen back to -23.7°C by 1800z.

With temperatures so low and motion only a tenth of what it was the last gale, one might be tempted to imagine everything is being frozen to a solid block of ice, however I think the lack of movement is largely due to the light winds, and the fact the wind backed slightly south of west at times.

It will be interesting to see what happens if “Sneak-Combo” hits our Forkasite with a gale.

NOVEMBER 14  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Nov 14B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 14B temp_latest.big (1)

Heading off to a Bible Study, and hopefully will return spiritually enlightened, for I’m not feeling particularly spiritual at the moment.  I have a toothache.  Few things make me quite as un-saintly as a good old-fashioned toothache.

Interesting how “Combo” is like a log split in two by the blade of Greenland.  It also looks a little like a lot of the arctic air moving into northern Canada is heading east rather than south. Hope to comment more later.

NOVEMBER 15  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Nov 15 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Nov 15 temp_latest.big (1)

Although the east half of Combo is pursuing Sneak, and seems intent on repeating the old pattern, the west half is brewing up some new and intersting pattern over Baffin bay and northeast Canada.  The cross-polar flow is steered east in northern Canada Building a reservoir of cold which is starting the freeze of Hudson Bay.

Cold, west-Siberian air can be seen moving off shore, chilling the coastal parts of the Laptev and Kara seas. Moving up under Sneak is the closest thing you’ll see to a summery Azores high, in November.  It is getting dark in England, but the UK Met map makes it look like it will be a relatively warm dark, for a while.  I wonder if it will get as far north as Sweden, or even the Arctic sea.

UK Met Nov 15 FSXX00T_00

LOCAL VIEW   —A MILD WEST WIND’S SUNSET—

With the pattern seemingly in transition, I figure it may be time to end this post, which is getting unwieldy, and start another.  It seems good to end on a high note, with a warm west wind. (Click to enlarge.)

A sunset satsfc (3)

This map only hints at the repressed cold penned up north of Hudson Bay, as the high which once was so cold, arctic and bitter rolls off our east coast and shows a kinder side.

Last night there was a spectacular sunset which, due to a toothache, I wasn’t really seeing.  It was one of those sunsets that flares up after the sun dips below the horizon, where it seems to get brighter even as you expect it to get darker.  One member of our staff annoyed me slightly by taking all the kids the wrong direction just moments before a group of parents usually show up.  She apparently sensed the sunset was going to be a good one, and felt the kids shouldn’t miss it, even if it meant the parents had to wait a bit.  I had gobbled some aspirin, but it hadn’t kicked in yet, so I felt like spitting snakes at the back of my employee, as she vanished through the distant trees, for I was the one left behind and I was the one who was going to have to deal with the parents.

The parents actually didn’t mind walking out with me to get the kids, who we could hear shouting and laughing in the distance.  We walked through a mild evening, through the black silhouettes of a grove of pines towards a blazing crimson sky, to where the woods ended and a field opened out towards the flood control reservoir dam, and the sky was open, huge and spectacular.  The aspirin must have kicked in, for I forgot my toothache, and watched the daily mother-and-child-reunion occur in scenery more beautiful than even Hollywood could dream up. To the west the pumpkin cirrus spread out like two giant wings of an angel, and in the middle was a crimson face with a headdress of ruby and purple feathers, topped by a streaming halo of stretching sunbeams of gold.  Watching the children play, or join up with their parents, who seemed in no hurry to go home, simply made me grin, and I decided I wasn’t so mad at my employee after  all. Then I felt the mild wind, and thought about the angel I was looking at, seeming to remember seeing the same thing many years ago, when a boy.

Not as big as God, but huge and standing spreading scarlet wings of warmth o’er the west, an old friend of childhood’s understanding smiled east at me, making sunset blessed.

Angels never age as I’ve slowly aged. A warm west wind simply never gets old. A prisoner to time, I have lived caged, longing through bars at landscapes that aren’t cold, aren’t cruel, aren’t never-ending discipline, but instead are how life’s suppose to be, where the gift’s given: Not something we win, caught by our clutching, clinging cruelty.

The angel shines with God’s will: The snapped fetter. (A life without night sure would be better.)

There.  I figured I’d end with one of my cryptic hidden-sonnets, just to keep onlookers mystified.

These observations on arctic sea ice will continue at https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/11/16/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-darkest-sixth/

13 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA-ICE RECOVERY; THE DANCE OF POLAR STORMS

  1. Though I’ve been busy with classes, it’s still nice checking up on your presentation of arctic weather, you’ve got a great knack at making it interesting.

    • Great to hear from you. I’m glad you enjoy my rambling. Hope all goes well with your classes. I know it is hard work, but hope you find time to comment again at some point.

  2. Caleb, I want to thank you for sharing your knowledge of Arctic sea ice and weather on your blog. I discovered this site in early September and have been reading it daily ever since. I am trying to learn as much as I can about the Arctic and I have a few questions for ya. How does having multiple storms in the Arctic this time of year affect the sea ice during the storm and say several days or weeks later? In other words, do Arctic storms cause the sea ice to initially break up and then rapidly refreeze and expand in the days following the storms departure, or are there many more factors to be taken into account?

    • I’m glad you are enjoying my rambling commentary. I am by no means an “authority,” though I seem to know more than some reporters simply because I’ve taken the time to observe and ask questions, which some of them apparently can’t be bothered to do.

      Those are really good questions, and I think scientists far more knowledgeable than I am are still asking those same questions.

      I have seen similar storms have surprisingly different effects, just comparing last summer to the summer of 2012. In 2012 a big gale smashed up the ice and it rapidly melted. In 2013 a couple big gales smashed up the ice and the ice just bobbed about smashed but unmelted. What was the difference?

      I have yet to hear a satisfying explanation, with data to back it up. One problem with explaining is that we lack data. Even the scientists dedicated to such study lack data, because it is expensive and somewhat dangerous to lug equipment up there, and theres this big sheet of ice in the way if you want data about the sea. Scientists had to do a lot of clever engineering before they could come up with a thermometer that could run up and down a pully, taking measurements at various depths under water. Even when they deploy these new pully-gizmos, the gizmos likely will be far apart, and also it will be years before they are able get enough data to measure cycles that may (or may not) exist up there. For example it took quite a long time to identify cycles which fishermen knew about in southern seas, such as the AMO, PDO, and El Nino and La Nina. It likely will take a long time to get enough data in the arctic as well.

      In the mean time we can makes guesses, but please understand that I have no data to back up my guesses.

      I think the melting of arctic ice is largely due to warm water under the ice, and has less to due with warm winds over the ice. The wind over the ice is more important in terms of whether it blows ice out of the arctic, than it is important because it actually melts the ice. 2007 had a very low extent because a lot of ice got blown out, as well as the warm AMO melting a lot from the underside. 2012 had a low extent primarily because the AMO was passing its peak, and the water under the ice was warm.

      At this point you need to understand two factors make water more bouyant than neighboring water. They are how warm the water is and how salty the water is. In most cases warm water floats atop cool water, and fresh water floats atop salty water. However in a case where you have warm, salty water moving into cold, less-salty water, will the warm, salty water ride up and over, because it is warm, or will it dive down and go under, because it is salty? Time to scratch your head and do all sorts of buoyancy calculations. But let’s skip the hard math, and blithely proceed with theory.

      As the Gulf Stream moves up into the area north of Scandinavia it is a case where the warmth trumps the saltiness. Even the Gulf Stream’s uppermost tendrils are so warm that they float above the fresher water, even though salty water ordinarily would sink. However the tendrils get colder and colder due to arctic winds, until they reaches a tipping point, and saltiness trumps warmth, and they sinks beneath a lens of less-salty water that tops the Arctic Ocean. Where do they go then?

      I think some years many tendrils are able to proceed hundreds of miles north under the ice, creating an entire layer of slightly warmer water between the surface lens and the “Pycnocline,” roughly 400 feet down. However I also feel things can dramatically change, and the tendrils can run into a sort of wall-made-of-buoyancy, and on these occasions the topmost tendrils of the Gulf Stream are diverted either east or west. In other words, there can be two quite different motions of the Gulf Stream, one extending hundreds of miles north, and one stopping hundreds of miles further south. (One of my reasons for holding this view is the eye-witness accounts of fishermen who notice what the plankton notice first, the herring and cod notice second, the gulls notice third, fishermen notice fourth, and scientists notice last of all.)

      The reason a big storm in the summer of 2012 was able to melt so much ice was because it tapped into so much underlying warm water. However, in doing so, it cooled that water. That water was cooled further by the simple fact it had no protective ice on top of it, when the winter winds began to blow. Lastly, a winter gale the following February further exposed that water by creating wide cracks in the new ice, and the water was exposed to the coldest winds of the winter, down near 40 below.

      This spring found the topmost tendrils of the Gulf Stream running up against a much colder Arctic Sea. I imagine at least some of the currents were discouraged by a denser, colder bouyancy they ran up against, turned aside, and didn’t melt last summers ice from beneath. Furthermore, when summer storms battered the ice, there was no warmer water to stir up from the depths, and rather than melting the ice was rearranged a bit.

      As I said before, I have no data to back up these ideas. They are based purely on observing, and guessing.

      I would say every arctic gale is different, just as every snowflake is different, and they all can teach you, if you patiently observe. One thing I was watching, before the arctic night hid the satellite views, was how storms altered the edge of the thicker sea-ice. from a jigsaw puzzle of assorted blocks of ice, all geometric and angular, to a smoothed coastline with geological features all the world like barrier islands, dunes, and sandbars, (likely made of pulverized slush that was refreezing.)

      Another thing I’m watching is various lines of thinner ice and thicker ice, which start to show up at this time of year on the Navy “Ice Thickness” map you can find on Anthony Watt’s excellent “Sea Ice Page.” http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/ Look through the maps on that page and, if you use your powers of observation, you’ll find your thoughts constantly stimulated to theorize.

      Will your theories be correct? Likely not, but that is half the fun of learning. The great thing about studying clouds, sea ice, storms, and indeed all aspects of geology and meteorology is that it never gets old. You never know it all. You face infinite variety, and you are always surprised by something fresh and new. To use your own words, there are always “many more factors to take into account.”

    • I just spent five minutes watching the ten day clip. You can see some ice off-shore from time to time, but it hasn’t come grinding up onto the beach yet. So you can still run down to the beach for a dip, if you are so inclined.

      Thanks for the link. Sometimes using our own eyes is better than using the satellite maps.

      • Yes especially when the satellite maps say there is ice there

        There is a lot of discrepancy between the satellite maps as well

    • David is the ice melting or being moved and blown about by tide, currents and wind? The thin ice can be bushed into some amazing pressure ridges.

      • I’m not sure how unusual it actually is. If you look at the DMI temperature-north-of-80-degrees graph you see there is a puzzling oddity in the form of an uptick in the average, right at the start of November. (It is the green line in the graph.)

        http://ocean.dmi.dk/arctic/meant80n.uk.php

        When I tried thinking about the uptick I was reminded about an event in New England called the “January Thaw.” It doesn’t happen every year, but happens enough to cause a slight hump in the temperatures at many New England sites, right in the dead of winter. Perhaps there is some similar event in the Arctic Sea, in November.

        This is sheer speculation on my part, but when I got to wondering what could cause such an event, I had the idea that the initial layer of thin ice might create conditions more conducive to storminess. I’ve noticed that as soon as an area has 100% coverage the 2 meter air temperatures plunge. It doesn’t matter if the ice is just a skim dusted with snow, the radiational cooling during 24-hour-a-day-darkness is huge. Perhaps that fiercely cold air creates the temperature clashes needed for whopper gales, and it is the gales that smash up the ice, which then causes a upward blip in the temperatures until the ice can freeze a second time.

        Just an idea. Call it a trial balloon. Now let’s watch and see if it gets shot down!

      • I think you are right. The ice is fairly thin and fragile at first, and the gales that get going up there can bulldoze it all over the place. The best film of a freeze up (but without a true gale,) is seen in the final three minutes of this time-laps film taken by O-Buoy #7 last September-October. I think these cameras are great, and hope budgets allow more of them. They’d have to have be pretty tough to handle North Atlantic Gales, however. (Also I bet there is a problem keeping batteries charged, once the sun goes down and solar cells don’t work any more.) Anyway, here’s the film: http://obuoy.datatransport.org/monitor#buoy7/movie

  3. Pingback: ARCTIC SEA ICE —Groping In Darkness—(Updated Friday Evening) | Sunrise's Swansong

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