This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was, https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/12/15/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-darkest-days/
For those visiting this site for the first time, I recommend clicking back to the last post and reading the introduction. I’d write another one, but I have a disconcerting habit of revising history each time I look over the same landscape, not due to dishonesty but rather because things look different as you climb a mountain.
In a nutshell I am studying the arctic and how its icecap and its weather effect us folk down south, (and everyone is a southerner, compared to the arctic.) I keep adding to the bottom of my posts, until the post becomes so long and so bulky I need to start a new one, as my computer is slowing down when I open the old post. Then I have to think up a new title, but in truth nothing new is really going on, except for the fact there is something new in the dawning of every day.
Once the post starts getting long, a quick way to the newer updates at the bottom of the post is to click the little “comments” balloon beside the title (if you are on my home page) and then to scroll upwards from the start of the comments.
Although I don’t always find time to immediately respond, I will respond to all comments, as they are my favorite past of having a blog.
I originally felt the need to keep these arctic records because I concluded the media was failing to do its job of helping me to be an educated voter. Reporters were failing to properly research things they reported upon. Therefore I decided to do the research myself.
In particular this concerned the melting of the ice at the North Pole. In the summer the public has access to all sorts of buoys and cameras bobbing around up there, and one can see for themselves what is going on. One does not need to be particularly scientific to be a witness, and that is how I see myself: I am an honest observer.
As I became skeptical about certain aspects of the Global Warming Story I ran into a sort of nasty backlash towards my skepticism. I am willing to face that backlash if I must, but for the most part it seems a bit infantile and pathetic, so I will avoid it when I can.
What I prefer is to just observe the weather as it unfolds. Though I doubt I will ever have the dubious privilege of actually visiting the Pole, the internet gives us access to an extraordinary amount of information. My favorite source of arctic information is the “Sea Ice Page” Anthony Watts put together at http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/ . One good thing about this source is that there are no comments, and no arguments about how to interpret the maps and graphs and other data. It is a gold mine, and is absolutely free.
A second gold mine costs about the price of a cup of coffee each day, and consists of roughly a thousand weather maps that Dr. Ryan Maue makes available at weatherBELL, at http://www.weatherbell.com/ (You can get a week’s free “trial offer, but it is like getting free heroin. You are free to start, but not so free to quit, because you get addicted.) These maps range from world maps to maps of specific locations, include pressure maps, temperature maps, wind maps, humidity maps, and maps of stuff I don’t yet understand. There are maps of what is occurring at the surface, and up through various levels of the atmosphere. By making maps of such data, collected by a variety of weather services, Dr. Maue allows me to skip the tedium of wading through lists of numbers and the gobbledegook of computer code. Lastly, you can click forward to see what models think the future will look like.
The purpose of a gold mine is not to scar the earth and cover you with dust and sweat, and the purpose of meteorological data is not to cramp your brain with trivia about the weather in obscure places. In my view, the gold is for a beautiful work of jewelry, the creation of an artwork, and in the case of meteorology the artwork is not made by man, but by the Creator himself.
There are times, as I look at mere maps, I feel I am glimpsing a wonderful harmony of such majesty and grandeur that even the symphonies of Beethoven pale in comparison. My attempts to share my glimpses with you will pale in comparison as well, but hopefully you will appreciate what is free for all of us, and can be gleaned if we only stop for thirty seconds on our way from our house to our car, and look at the sky.
FORKARMA DATA —We cross both 69 north and 21 west—
For newcomers an explanation is necessary. Originally we enjoyed the view from the North Pole Carmera, and became familiar with that drifting piece of landscape. Darkness fell and the camera was collected in September, but other equipment was left behind, allowing us to follow the “Forkasite,” (which was shorthand for “Former Camera Site.”) A few weeks back our iceberg began to fall apart, which we were able to determine because the equipment left behind contained two GPS’s, and they began to record differing locations, (and temperatures and barametric pressures) I called one “Forkouy,” as I thought it was a buoy, and the other “Forkarma,” because it is Army data. Forkouy’s data became increasingly garbled, and then quit altogether around a week ago, and all we have left is Forkarma. I am starting to wonder if Forkarma may be a buoy, as it has survived some intense storms and extremes.
Forkarma is reporting from 68.91 N, 21.32 W, which places it 36.13 miles south-southeast from where it was roughly 36 hours ago. (The Army data seems to come out twice a day, and I assume it comes out at midnight and noon, but don’t know. It has no time stamp.) The temperature has risen to -3.45 C.
The North Pole is now 1463 miles away, and we have been following our buoy much of the way. Anyone who thinks the arctic ice is stable needs to think again.
I was hoping to see our site lodge and freeze against the Greenland coast, which is a reletive rarity, or even the once every 100 year rarity of a brief ice-jam between Greenland and Iceland, but neither seems likely now. We are heading south to the end of the midday starlight and milder temperatures.
UK MET MAP —1200Z SATURDAY—
(CLICK ALL MAPS, GRAPHS AND PICTURES ON THIS SITE TO ENLARGE THEM)
I like to look at the Uk Met map to get a feel for the North Atlantic, for much of the warmth effecting Arctic Sea Ice follows northern tendrils of the Gulf Stream past Norway and through Barents Sea. I am testing a theory I have that how open Barents Sea is effects how cold the Arctic Sea is the following summer. Open water, I think, is chilled more than ice-covered water.
I have a habit of naming storms, partly for fun and partly because it helps me keep track of features. It is amazing how swiftly these maps change, and at times I lose track of things.
The weakening gale off the southern Norwegian coast is Killi, which will continue to weaken. The storm starting across the Atlantic is Boxer, (named after Boxing Day.)
The winter has been fairly mild over Europe, which is a blessing for those pinched by inflated heating bills. However there are a few signs things may gradually change to this one:
DECEMBER 28 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— Again the lopsided Pole
I try to include these maps twice a day, as they help me learn about how the arctic gets cold during the winter and gets above freezing during the summer. I have learned a lot just observing. It is a very different view from an ordinary weather map, that has west to the left and east to the right. This year is has been especially interesting, for rather than a zonal pattern, where winds go around and around the Pole, we have had what Dr. Tim Ball calls a “meridianal pattern,” where the jet stream loops north and south so much it can even cross the Pole itself. This can lead to various forms of cross-polar-flow, which can bring especially bitter cold to those at lower latitudes on the receiving end.
I’ve been on the recieving end at times this winter, as we have seen a flow from Siberia to Alaska, and then south. I call the part of east Siberia that best generates cold “Igor,” and the cold potruding across the Pole and then down into North America I call “The Snout of Igor.” (You’ll have to indulge me at times as you might indulge an odd, old uncle.)
We recently saw a different cross-polar-flow pour Atlantic air right across the Pole to Bering Strait, but the above map shows how all that heat has been lost to outer space, and the cold has rebuilt. We are back in a familiar situation, with high pressure towards Alaska and low pressure towards Norway. Strong east winds from the arctic coast of Scandinavia to Greenland are creating a dam that keeps much Atlantic air from getting north, and another lesser dam is preventing Pacific air from entering through Bering Strait. It is a cold arctic, and getting colder.
If it would stay up there, it would be like a bank account nobody touched. However Canada is making a withdrawal, and that is not good news for me.
LOCAL VIEW —The storm gathers—
For newcomers I should explain the “Local View” is where I get to describe how the arctic is effecting me, as I run a Childcare and manage my brother’s farm far to the south, in New Hampshire, USA. Often it has next to nothing to do with the arctic, so you may want to skip these sections. I indulge in purple prose and like to hide sonnets in the prose as well. That alone should make wise men wary.
Currently it is past my bedtime, so I will be brief. A storm is gathering to our south:
The radar shows purple (freezing rain and sleet) starting to show at the top of the rain as it comes north. Even though the air to the north of the storm doesn’t seem that cold to the northeast, it is reletively dry. Rain falling into dry air sometimes turns to snow. I think some of it evaporates and that turns available heat into latent heat. Just as you have to supply heat to evaporate water on your stove, you need to supply heat to evaporate falling rain, which can be just enough colder to turn rain to snow. (Of course freezing releases latent heat, but the cooling trumps the warming in this situation.)
Another thing that happens is that a developing storm sucks cold air down from the north into it. At times, if the development gets rapid, the cold air breaks rules and flow across isobars rather than along them. (” isallobaric flow “)
Some folk on the northern edge of the storm expecting rain may be in for a surprise.
DECEMBER 29 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
Not much change, though Killi continues to weaken and a weak nobe of high pressure has expanded south over Iceland in front of Boxer, appearing at the lower left. Cold continues to build over the Kara Sea, as the deeper blue shade of the minus-30 isotherm show. That air is pouring west over Barents Sea, but open water swiftly warms the bottom-most layers of the atmosphere, and rarely appears as blue hues. The North Pole sees the area bounded by the minus-25 isdotherm increasing and the area bounded by the minus-20 isotherm decreasing, as the cold continues to build. This is one of the coldest polar maps we’ve seen all winter.
Rainy, grey, and depressing.
DECEMBER 29 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
Killi weaker, Boxer stronger, Pole colder.
Over at his weatherBELL site Joe Bastardi maps out an upper atmosphere short wave, (perhaps Filli,) that ripples across from Finland to the top of Greenland, then swings down the Canadian coast to the border with Alaska, then plunges south into the USA, teaming up with a trough coming in from the Pacific to form a major trough right into the guts of the USA at the start of next week, freezing everyone’s socks off. Well, we’ll see about that.
DECEMBER 30 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
“Killi” continues to fill and weaken, however on its north side easterly winds continue to keep the Pole blocked off from Atlantic moisture and warmth, and the Pole continues to remain cold. Air entering Pole is apparently largely descending air from aloft, though there is some slightly milder air coming north over Alaska from the Pacific over the Beaufort Sea, as well as greatly modified Atlantic air entering the Kara Sea after traveling inland over western Siberia, (which could chill most anything.)
“Boxer” is stalled south of Iceland.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
It looks like we are back to the old pattern, with a stalled Icelandic low, however “Boxer seems stalled further south than earlier lows. A secondary is approaching the United Kingdom.
Hmm. I just noticed they haven’t updated, and this map is from 1900z yesterday. So that secondary has probably swung through England already. Behind it “Boxerson” is caught in Boxer’s flow, and likely will be swung around int the dance of lows around an Icelandic center, and winds over Western Europe will remain southerly, though the air will be largely swung around from Greenland rather than up from the Azores, and therefore colder.
The really cold east winds continue to skirt the north coast of Scandinavia and head for East Greenland and then down towards Iceland, sparing Europe, however if this pattern slumps south at all the same winds will start to cross Europe, effecting northern Scandinavia first. So I’ll watch for that.
LOCAL VIEW –DUCKED THE BULLET—
“Oldyear” never quite phased with “Boxerthird,” and they can be seen side by side heading away on the map, likely to join and grow to a gale to our northeast. The rain, sleet and snow slid swiftly past, without any backlash, which is fine with me. The last thing I want to do first thing on a Monday is shovel snow. Glancing out the door, it looks like all I need to do is sprinkle some salt.
Some very cold air is pressing down from Canada, and the snout of Igor is going to push that little low over Montana, (guess I’ll dub it “Monty,”) southeast. Looks like there is no escape from the cold at first. The question is whether a low crashing into Alaska’s south coast can push some Chinook winds over the Canadian Rockies later in the week, and give us some warmth that way. However one odd thing about some of the models is that they are showing the cold come straight south west of Greenland over Baffin’s Bay and Hudson Bay, which is a pattern I’m not familiar with.
The current Maue GFS initial-run temperature map shows how much the Great Lakes modifies the air as it rushes towards us. Those lakes are just starting to freeze around the edges. If they freeze over we lose our last buffer from the north. (Double click to enlarge fully.)
24 HOUR TEMPERATURE CHANGES —CHINOOK OR ARCTIC BLAST?
Here is a map of how much the temperature has changed in the past 24 hours. (Click to enlarge)
So,,,it dropped fifty-four degrees in central Wisconsin, but then rose twenty-nine degrees in eastern Montana? The question then becomes: Can the Chinook warmed air work east, or will it be shunted south? (We will get the arctic blast, but how long will it last?)
(I should confess I lifted the above map from Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent blog at WeatherBELL.)
DECEMBER 30 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
Killi is fading away over northern Scandinavia, with a dimple which may be a memory of Filli being swept back by the easterly flow over Svalbard. Boxer is a major gale center stalled southwest of Iceland, rotating vaious fronts, occlusions and troughs around it like spokes of a wheel. The Snout of Igor high pressure remains entrenched on the Canadian side of the Pole.
The Pole north of 80 degrees has chilled back to normal. The single warm spot around Svalbard is countered by the northern tip of Greenland’s icecap being 40-below. The rest is all blues on the isotherm map, and my guess is it averages around 29-below. (I don’t know why DMI stopped updating their graph.) This is normal, but unusual for a non-zonal-circulation year, where so much arctic cold is exported south. My assumption is that this represents a lull, and temperatures will rise to above-normal levels at the Pole as its air is again making headlines further south. What we are seeing is money being saved up in the bank before a spending spree, and I fear the spree is going to be at my expence this year, as the USA seems to be in the cross-hairs, at least for the next fifteen days. Last year we could feel sorry for Europe at the start of January, but this year the tables are turned.
UK MET 1200Z MAP
Boxer remains a sort of voracious amoeba, consuming other features that rotate around it like rowboats in a maelstrom. To the south Boxerson is being absorbed, and over Scotland a second son is giving the United Kingdom south winds and rain even as it is sucked backwards.
Europe continues to be spared the wrath of the Siberian express, though it skims the north coast of Norway and plunges down the east coast of Greenland. As long as storms such as Boxer fuel the Icelandic Low Europe will be in a southerly flow, although admittedly it holds a lot of colder Maritime-polar air at the moment. The Maue-map of the Euro-model’s initial run shows that the jet stream has been greatly flattened, as the enormous high-pressure ridge that stood stubbornly over Europe has been subdued and beaten east. (Double click to fully enlarge.)
European snow-lovers will likely have to despair a bit longer, as the elderly living on fixed pensions in fuel-poverty rejoice. However there are signs that things are changing. The blue “bowling balls” rolling through the Mediterranean hint a southern storm track may be trying to get established, and if the westerlies sink that far south the arctic easterlies can bring the Siberian Express to northern Europe.
Of interest is that blue trough of low pressure digging down from eastern France to Africa. It may be giving a mist of rain to the Sahara southwest of Tunisia, as this Maue-map of the Canadian-model’s initial run shows:
(Mischief made me include that map. I have always wanted to include a map of Africa in a blog about arctic sea-ice. It proves I am broad minded.)
FORKARMA DATA —Out Of Africa—
I figured I had better hurry back to the subject of sea ice. Our site has slowed, drifting 3.28 miles nearly due south to 68.87 N, 21.39 W. Temperatures have risen slightly to -2.56 C.
Likely winds have died due to our site being in a coll, (which is weatherman-jargon for “a lull,”) and we will soon be sped south by cold winds coming down the coast of Greenland from the north.
LOCAL VIEW —Looks like we are in for it—
There is a buzz starting at the bank and gas station and local market about a storm that may hit us Thursday. As usual, it has a tint of hysteria, however the usual panic is greatly moderated by the fact many are returning from visiting family to the south over Christmas, and not all that far to our south the snow-cover from earlier storms was melted away by recent warmth and rains, creating the sense, (and I think it is a false illusion,) that this winter is a mild one.
I base my opinion on the simple fact we’ve already had plenty of winter, and I can recall many a rough winter that didn’t even get started until after Christmas. Furthermore, I watch the ice. I watch it form in the arctic, and in the high latitude Canadian Great Lakes, and on Hudson Bay, and then on the lower Great Lakes, and last but not least, on my brother’s farm’s pond.
Here’s the ice on the Great lakes, after the recent Chinook balminess and before the current arctic blast: (click to enlarge)
If it was truly a “mild winter,” there would be almost no ice at this point. The fact it is forming already hints the cold is out-performing the mild spells. And the Snout of Igor is still delivering cold, and, as we have seen, the Arctic Sea is loaded. (Click to enlarge.)
What grabs my attention is the slow exit of the Oldyear-Boxerthree combo up over Newfoundland. If storms are slowing down it gives the next storms more time to “phase” and blast us.
The next combo is a weak Monty and a very weak storm in the Gulf of Mexico I’ll call “Newyearson,” who are likely to be too dry to do much but create a sort of zipper, “Montyzip,” on the second front dangling behind Oldyear-Boxerthree combo, and this will pass us out to sea. It is the combo after that which will smite my business.
The second thing that grabs my attention is the boundary between Chinook and Arctic air, curving behind Monty and up the Canadian Rockies. It is making no progress east, despite quite an attack from winds under a storm on Alaska’s south coast. The Snout of Igor is standing strong. Some ripple I can’t even see, on this front, will be the northern branch feature of the next combo.
The third thing that grabs my attention is the low over the Great Lakes. That is created by the Great Lakes losing a lot of heat, which rises up and crates low pressure at the surface. For the Great Lakes to lose heat like that is indicative of an environment that chills the water and speeds the growth of ice.
The last thing that grabs my attention is that there is nothing on that maps that looks like a storm, yet our forecast is for a dry snow all day Thursday with strong winds and temperatures no higher than 15, ( -9 Celsius) and, on Friday, as snow tapers off and clouds are blown away by roaring north winds, our high temperature is not suppose to rise above 5, (-15 Celsius.)
Ouch. That is not a nice forecast, and it is impressive that they dare make it, looking at the above map. However, while I might mutter, “balderdash,” if it was a forecast for weather six days ahead, I tend to give modern meteorologists a bit of credit, once they are forecasting three days ahead. In fact I admire what they often are able to foresee. (By myself I might have suspicions, looking at the above map, but I’d have no certainty, and on some days I’d be completely unsuspecting.)
In any case, snow-lovers in other parts of the world will be green with envy as I turn blue. Furthermore I’ll likely remain blue for ten days, as we get all that cold air stored up over the Pole unleashed down our way. After that I doubt many down here will love snow and cold, or they won’t love it as much as they did before they got what they wished for.
You could feel the cold oozing in all day today. It was bright and sunny, but temperatures, around freezing at dawn, basically stayed where they were. I salted and sanded both here and at the farm, and the quarter inch of ice of on sidewalks and pavements from the end of yesterday’s storm melted in the bright sunshine, due to the salt, but the puddles from yesterday’s rain on the ponds were steadily freezing.
At my Childcare I discovered my staff had forbidden sledding. The hill was too icy, they supposed, and the sleds would have gone too fast. I bit my tongue. I actually thought high risk and danger was what sledding was all about, and would have at least allowed sledding on the shallow rises, but I was not the one who would have had to deal with the weeping.
Once I was on duty I did allow some of the older children the danger of hanging around with me. We spread sand in the parking lots and attempted to control the goats (who are in heat and rowdy) by fixing fences and spoiling them with treats like carrots, apples and alfalfa cubes, (which didn’t do any good because the bleeping goats preferred the bark of my wife’s favorite ash tree.)
(My technique is not to ask the older kids to help, because they immediately pout and shirk if you do that. Instead I say they aren’t allowed to help, whereupon whey whine and plead to help. In any case, kids learn a lot even if they just hang around me as I work.)
I had some shrimp left over from the weekend “Yankee Swap,” and the older kids, (who have no school due to vacation,) helped me fry shrimp and slice potatoes for french-fries for the younger children. Once again, I did not call it a chore. Instead I let them be the benevolent philanthropists, offering steaming paper plates full of yum to the starving peons. Few can resist the glorious egotism of being such a benefactor.
After that we headed out to the flood control reservoir to hike over its ice, which is quite thick and safe, but, because it had two inches of water on top of the ice, and because only an inch of that water was frozen, the ice made frightening cracking noises as you walked over it. You could see bubbles moving under your feet, and even though I knew there were eight inches of ice under the new ice and rainwater, even I felt hair on my neck prickle when I saw the cracks spiderweb from under my footsteps. The older kids were both terrified and greatly gratified, and also learned a thing or two about walking with your weight spread out and not lifting your feet, and also about not walking close together. (I’ll let my wife deal with their parents. She’s good at diplomacy.)
The entire time you could feel the arctic moving in, especially as the sun sank behind the purple hills leaving orange sky, and the temperature, which had hovered up around thirty all day, dropped like a rock through the twenties. (It is now in the teens.)
The kids didn’t complain about the cold. (I did, but only to myself.) They seemed warmed by all the stuff they’d done, and that actually warmed me, especially as earlier it seemed I’d have to pay the staff extra to cover for me as I dealt with an amazing plethora of breakdowns at home.
Around lunch time I was dealing with the water heater not working, the washing machine flooding the cellar, and the kitchen stove malfunctioning, as well as the house smelling strongly of gas. I figured everything was breaking down due to two sons coming home from college, and my elder daughter bringing a new born into our house, which involved cranking up the heat. Because I recently put a new thermo-coupling into the water heater, I figured I’d crimped a line, and the gas leak was all my fault, and likely messing up the gas kitchen stove as well. After making phone calls all over, and learning I’d likely have to get an entire new water heater if the aluminum line was crimped, my mood was volcanic. I got several points in heaven just by keeping my tongue firmly bit in my mouth.
I discovered the washing machine had simply vibrated two joined and clamped hoses apart, and fixed the flood. That sense of enlightenment soothed my sense of irritation enough to think a bit more calmly.
I had assumed it was impossible that we were out of propane, as I’d put $350.00 worth into the tank just a couple of weeks ago, and also the furnace was running. The furnace couldn’t run if we were out, so we couldn’t be out, and that couldn’t explain the problem with the hot water and the kitchen stove and the smell of gas….but the smell of gas was an indication of a low tank, so I went and looked, and the tank was at zero. I felt the floor register, and discovered the furnace fan was running, but the burner wasn’t. So I called for an emergency delivery, which of course costs extra. Then I rushed off to work, muttering to myself about how expensive Christmas is, when you add in the cost of kids coming home and long showers and tons of washing and extra cooking and heat turned up for an infant. (My wife overheard, and shot me a glance, and spoke two words of wisdom, “It’s over.”)
At work, just as I was serving the children the first batch of french-fried potatoes, my wife called to tell me the fellow I’d called earlier to fix the hot water heater was in the cellar. I shut down the frier, got the staff to cover, and gunned the mile home to see if I could stop the guy, because I didn’t want to pay for an unnecessary service call, but when I thundered down the old wooden steps into the cellar I was surprised to discover he actually was in the process of discovering a gas leak.
He had an interesting way of finding it. He used his cigarette lighter by the gas line, and found a little jet of flame. Then he blew it out. It was right by where I put the thermo-coupling in, and it only took him thirty seconds to fix it, by tightening a nut.
Suddenly everything seemed worth while. Who knows what might have happened, if he hadn’t found that leak?
In any case, the stove works. We can cook. The shower works. We can be clean. The washer works. We can wear clean clothes. The furnace works. We can be warm. The propane tank is full. My sons stocked the porch with firewood and the wood stove is radiant. It is fifteen degrees outside, but life isn’t so bad. Let it snow, let it blow, let it drop to ten below. Life goes on, thank God.
DECEMBER 31 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
(Will comment later)
UK MET MAP
(Will comment later)
(Will comment later)
DECEMBER 31 —DMI EVENING MAPS—
UK MET 0700Z MAP
HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!
I’m briefly writing after midnight. Spent my shift today with the children skating on the flood control reservoir. Best skating in a long time, as the beavers blocked the outlet, leading to a couple of inches or water on top of the rough ice (made of slush from the earlier storms,) and the water froze as we had readings nearly down below zero (but not quite,) last night. The ice is likely close to a foot thick, made up of the original surface, and atop that around a foot of snow turned to inches of slush that turned to ice, and two inches of rain and flood water atop that, frozen during past few days. Even in places where the ice is usually thinner it was rock solid, with no give or echo when you stomped your skate. You might as well have been stomping on granite.
Usually it is only in the depth of cold winters that you can skate in the channels through the reeds and cattails, where water feeds into the reservoir. This year we could do it in December. So I don’t want to hear any more talk about how mild this winter has been. Ice that thick this early is unusual.
It is funny how a few mild spells can warp people’s perceptions of the overall chill. It reminds me of a girl I knew when I was young….but that is a story for another evening.
I liked the idea of a comfortable evening indoors, going to bed before the hoopla, but my youngest son dragged me kicking and screaming into having a party on the farm pond. (This may well be his last vacation at home, as he plans a lot of engineer-interning from now on, which is likely why I felt indulgent.) So we built a fire and skated a little and watched fireworks at midnight, (always more fun for the people setting the stuff off than for the audience.)
It was interesting being outside, for we had a squall of snow giving us about a quarter inch, and even during the hieght of the squall you could still see the brilliant light of Jupiter shining in the eastern sky. Then it became clear and colder, with the moonless sky black and the stars vivid.
The squall was actually “Monty” passing through. On the map above you can see Montyzip did develop on the coast, but on the map below you can see it rippled north without any bombogenisis, and Monty kept his identity. Gulf of Mexico moiture started streaming north too late, and perhaps too early for the next ripple in the northern branch, which is over Wyoming, so I’ll call it “Ming.”
Ming will give us bitter cold snow on Thursday, and wreck the skating, which is why I skated with the kids so much today. It may be the only chance we get to skate on a pond without snow.
Therefore I can use the old politician’s-ploy, and say the reason I didn’t post anything more than maps today was “for the children.” I won’t mention that I personally love skating on a pond where you don’t have to clear a small square to skate at all, and instead can skate to the farthest reaches. Instead I’ll make myself look altruistic by saying I showed children such joys, And I am actually better that most politicians, because when I say I do things “for the children,” I actually spend time with children.
Our childcare is closed tomorrow, so I can’t use that excuse if I fail to post. So I’ll try to catch up. There’s a lot going on.
OFF TOPIC —Ship trapped in Antarctic Ice seeks help from Skeptic forecasters—
JANUARY 1 —MORNING AND AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—
I am glad I didn’t make a New Year’s Resolution to stay on schedule, for I’m loafing to start my year. In any case, here are the morning and afternoon maps, with the morning maps on top:
The change that leaps out at me is that the high pressure over towards Canada is starting to elongate, and the flow around it is less circular, and instead is basically two streams, one from Alaska across to Siberia, and a second from northern Scandanavia across to northern Greenland and then down towards Hudson Bay in Canada.
I’ve observed this sort of dual cross-polar-flow before, and wonder if it might be a sign the flow is tending to be meridianal rather than zonal.
The flow across from Scandinavia seems to effectively seal the Arctic Ocean from Altantic Invasions, at least in the short term, and allows the cold to build up over the Pole, and then exports it through the Queen Elizabeth Islands down into mainland Canada.
The flow from Alaska seems to bring Pacific air up, and though it is chilled by passing over Alaska it does seem there are less-cold isotherms as it first starts crossing the Arctic Sea. However as it continues and curves more towards Europe it seems to incorperate colder air. If I lived in Europe I’d be wary of Canada to Europe cross-polar-flows in the same manner I, far south of these maps in the USA, am leery of opposite flows.
What is most interesting is that we seemingly are getting both flows at once.
At the bottom of the polar map we can see Boxer remains a voracious, all-consuming Icelandic Low.
Meteorologists on this side of the Pond should look at these maps and be humbled. Basically there is a single storm, Boxer, who rules from the throne of the “Icelandic Low.” Everything else is more or less orbiting satelites. But look how many fronts and troughs are involved! European weather men must envy us in North America, where our storms are often simple things, with a single warm front and cold front.
Boxer sucked “Oldyear” across, but look how complex Oldyear has become, as it crosses Wales. It has a warm front, two cold fronts, and an occlusion. Of course, this is partly explained by the fact Oldyear was a combo, and actually Oldyear and Boxerthird, with two cold fronts as it failed to completely “phase,” as can be seen by the first map. However I think this shows how Europe is, by nature, more complex than America. If we give them a storm with two fronts, they will make it four. And look at Boxer in the first map. As it left America it had two fronts. How many fronts and troughs does it get, as it becomes part of Europe, in that first map?
If I were foolish I might extend this idea, and suggest that when America gives Europe two simple ideas like Freedom and Democracy, Europe makes a total mess of it by making it hideously complex, because it is in the nature of Europe, however I am not so foolish, so I will not do such a thing.
Instead I will simply say I am glad I don’t have to forecast for London. I look at Monty starting across the Atlantic in the wake of Oldyear, and have no idea how many fronts he will have when he swings up towards London. But look! When he left USA he only had one warm front, but now he already has two!
Instead I just look to see how must Atlantic air is surging up towards the Arctic, and see the arctic is still sealed off. And I am keenly watching for signs of this pattern, (as you know:)
UTTERLY OFF TOPIC, EXCEPT IT INVOLVES SEA-ICE
The Chinese rescue vessel attempting to rescue the Australian vessel is itself stuck in the south, down by the coast of Antarctica.
LOCAL VIEW —A new year off on the wrong foot—
They have already cancelled school for tomorrow, which is one heck of a way to get life back to normal. Not much to see on the maps, however:
It is hard to see what all the fuss is about, from these maps. As a confessed layman, I am down to earth, and don;t understand the upper atmosphere stuff that causes educated meteorologists to bulge their eyeballs. In fact one of my unconfessed New Year’s resolutions, ( never publicly admit what you privately vow,) is to understand the upper atmosphere better. However, for now, I see no real snow-danger in the above maps, but flinch at the cold.
The yellow and rust in the above maps ordinarily measures the very cold cloud-tops, however the above maps show yellow and rust where there are no clouds, or few clouds, and in that case we are not talking about extreme cold up at the altitude of Mount Everest, but right down here on lowland earth. The yellow and rust in the above map shows much of Canada is as cold as the top of Mount Everest, and it will be swept down here if “Ying” develops at all, as it passes.
I am often astonished by how unaware young parents are of cold. They have lived in a world where the outdoors is but a brief thing between the house and the car, and the car and the school or workplace. To a few the “outdoors” is a romantic ideal, and when they send their children to our farm-childcare they expect unicorns, and clouds of sky-blue-pink. They don’t understand cold. My wife appears jarringly harsh, when she tells them, “There is no such thing as bad weather; there is only bad clothing,” for the parents themselves own but the most flimsy jackets, and don’t know enough to dress their children well.
The children, even at a surprisingly tender age, care more for fashion than warmth. Or they care more at first. The north wind teaches more, without words, than I can with my blah-blah-blah. However kids are amazingly hot blooded, and can endure more than I’d even want to, for fashion. (I learned this twenty years ago, when I tried to get my eldest son to wear a hat when the windchill was below zero. Back then the “spike haircut” was in fashion, and my son showed me he would gladly suffer, if it avoided mussing his hair.)
Such incidents happen when it is 20 degrees, or ten degrees, however we will be seeing temperatures much lower than that. Eventually you reach a point where you stop caring so much about staying warm outdoors, and care more about staying warm indoors.
During the next few days I’ll likely be dusting off the seldom used coal stove, and cranking the wood stove to high heat, to help the propane furnace, because the arctic will be attacking with some of its toughest cold. I’ll keep the children at our Childcare indoors, which is very unusual, however the cold we are facing is unusual as well.
However today was “only” in the twenties, (-4 Celsius,) and I managed to get my wife to come and skate with me. It was one of those rare occasions, in this area, when you can skate without needing to shovel the ice free of snow. Despite the cold and snowy autumn, various thaws and rains managed to turn the white blanket of snow on the reservoir to a layer of white ice as smooth as glass. I didn’t need to shovel a bit, and could skate anyplace I wanted with my wife, including up the meandering channels through cattails where the water enters the reservoir, which are usually unsafe.
I’ll probably walk funny tomorrow, for the muscles you use when skating don’t get as much use in ordinary life, however skating makes you feel young, as you can zoom with a minimum of effort. Our dog was swiftly discouraged and sulked on the shore, as it doesn’t like situations where old humans are faster and can swerve and reverse direction more nimbly than a young dog.
Just when we were about to quit our youngest son showed up, and later, just when we three were about to quit, we realized the snow tomorrow would make such skating impossible. In fact such skating is almost never possible, for usually when the ice is snow-free it is too thin, and when it gets thick it is snow-covered. In a decade’s ten years you may get only ten days with ice like today’s, so we kept skating until we were nearly crawling.
That was why I was so late updating this blog. However it was worth it.. We saw all sorts of beauty we otherwise would have missed.
There is a local shrub called “winterberry” that grows along one shore, with vibrant fire-red berries in November, but the below zero spell of a fortnight ago had the berries browned and withered, however robins apparently felt that made them delicious. (For you Europeans, an American robin is twice the size of yours, and rather than a triangle of red on its upper breast has an entire breast and belly of red.) Where some may think robins go south for the winter, we were seeing a gang of fifty which left the lawns and the hunt for worms to be a beligerant bunch, far less shy than summer robins, gobbling fruit. A few smaller birds, goldfinch and cedar waxings, joined them, but for the most part it was fifty robins, fluttering as close as thirty feet away, as you coasted along the icy verge of a small lake.
To the south the jet stream did it’s artwork across the sky: A steam of fast-moving purple and pink and cream mackerel, as elsewhere the sky was dark blue dotted with silver cumulus. I’d not see that, if I stayed indoors typing at this blog.
Another unusual sight was made possible by my youngest son deciding to clout cattails. They turned into snowstorms of floating seeds, as each cattail likely has ten thousand seeds, smaller but similar to dandelion seeds, each with a tiny parachute attached, so they are all but weightless in the air, until the wind sweeps them away like smoke, revealing another ability they have: They stick to wool, so that my son looked a little tarred and feathered, after he had his fun busting cattails into clouds of white.
As lovely as such images are, they can’t deny the fact I’ve been loafing. Where I could have been starting to study the mystery of upper air winds, I’ve been low, and down to earth. Likely there is no justification for such laziness, but I like it so much I will justify it, if I ever have to. If some can justify studying upper air winds, I’ll find a way to justify studying lower air calming.
LOCAL VIEW —Snowy morning—
I look out at the latest sunrise, (which for some odd reason comes a week after the shortest day,) and see only a world of deep purple snow. Yawn. Extra work for me to do blinks in that purple, but I figured I’d pop a couple maps in for the record.
OFF TOPIC —QUASI-ECO-PSEUDO-SCIENTIFIC-TOURISTS RESCUED—
(Now that they are safe, the derision can begin.) http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/01/02/newsbytes-ship-of-fools-rescued-at-last/
JANUARY 2 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
Although the Atlantic remains largely sealed off, a weak inflow of non-arctic air is leaking north over eastern Scandinavia and western Siberia. A slightly stronger inflow is coming from the Pacific overland via Alaska. The weak low over Svalbard is threatening to break the ridge and disrupt the double-cross flow. The pole on a whole remains cold.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
Oldyear is looping up over Scotland and being sucked back into the all-consuming Boxer. Monty is crossing underneath and now has two warm fronts, three cold fronts, an occlusion and a trough. (Much too complex for the first day back at work after New Year’s.) The arctic is still mostly sealed off by the east winds over the top of the Icelandic Low. Cold flow down East Greenland coast so I’d better check our Forkarma site.
FORKARMA DATA —Companion buoy bites the dust? (Or bites the brine?)
Our site reports from 68.87 N, 21.39 W, which is esactly where it was when we checked a couple days ago. Hmm. Oh, I see. They haven’t updated the Army site. I hope it is due to a wild New Year’s Party, and not the demise of our site. However I notice they have removed the Companion Buoy from their site. I wonder if it was sunk.
LOCAL VIEW —Lunchtime report—
We’ve only had a couple inches of dust-like snow. No reason to cancel school. The temperatures refuse to rise, and have in fact fallen a couple degrees to 8. (-13 Celsius.)
One of the older children helped me clean off the Childcare drive with shovels, as the snow was too little to use the blower. I asked the boy’s mother, as she left, whether he ever helped at home. She smiled and said she had to twist his arm to get him to help at home.
It’s funny how kids would rather help away from home than at home. One of my sons was always going over to the neighbors and helping with chores he was loathe to do at home. Meanwhile my neighbor’s own boys were loath to lift a finger. Finally my neighbor took to calling my boy, “The son I never had.”
On the map it looks like the storm is morfisticating over the mountains, and jumping to the coast. Occasionally such storms turn into zippers, and shoot out to sea leaving everyone looking foolish, as all the hoopla about heavy snow comes to naught. However the forecasters are still saying Ming will intensify on the coast and give us blizzard conditions for a while tonight. Temperatures will be below zero, and with a wind driving fine snow into your face, it is wise to turn right around and head back indoors.
JANUARY 2 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
(Sorry to take so long to post this. Apparently everyone was on-lone in my location last night, for computers all began working very slowly and often refused to up load.
JANUARY 3 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
The above maps show the double-crossing polar flows has been broken, as the ridge extending from Europe to Alaska has split to two separate high pressure systems, broken by the blob of low pressure extending north from Svalbard. For the moment the Pole is fairly quiet, with the high towards the Alaska-Canada coast keeping the air running around in a circle, as a somewhat zonal flow. This allows the cold to build, though temperatures at the Pole are still a little above normal. It has been colder down in Minnesota than at the Pole, due to the exported cold.
The Icelandic Low continues to whirl in the Atlantic, only allowing a small flow of Atlantic air north while keeping most of the air to itself.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
The Icelandic Low continues to dominate, currently a somewhat triangular triad, with “Boxer” weakened and wobbled west, “Newyear” occluded and swung up to Iceland, and “Monty” now the strongest as a 947 gale west of Ireland.
I am watching these lows to see if they move further south, allowing the cold northeast winds now coming down the coast of Greenland to settle south and start effecting Europe.
LOCAL VIEW —One heck of a cold storm—
This one wore me out. I couldn’t deal with the computer glitches, and lay down just to nap in the evening before getting back to work, and when I opened my eyes it was five this morning. Nine hours of sound sleep! Then I had to head out into some really harsh weather. I kept our reputation sound, as “The Childcare that Never is Closed by Storm,” but I was wondering if it was worth it, as I snow-blowed the drive in the wind.
The snow was light, and not really the problem. We had only around four inches last night and four more overnight, and it was light and flurry and easy to remove. What got to you was the cold, and also the dryness of the air. It seems to suck the water right out of you.
It was ten yesterday morning, but fell all day to around six in the mid-afternoon when it it usually warmest, and was minus-two as I worked this morning. (-12, -14, and -18 Celsius.) The sun came out at around noon, and we’ve warmed to a toasty seven degrees. (Also -14 Celsius, which shows why I prefer Fahrenheit: It’s increments are smaller.)
The snow-blower wouldn’t start the second time I went out, which was fine with me. It will be warmer tomorrow. Anyway, machinery breaks down if you use it in the cold. I don’t know how people in Alaska manage their weeks of fifty-below, such as they suffered last winter.
I heard the fire engines go out three times in the morning. By the third fire their hoses were frozen up, and they had to just watch the house burn.
In any case, here are the maps:
(One funny thing about the upper map above is the five low pressure systems the map-creator noted. I think it shows an indecisive refusal to commit. You see, it was very important to locate the low at that time, because it meant a great deal concerning where the storm would track and where the snow would fall. If the storm was to the east, it might slip out to sea, and if it was west, it might hammer the big cities. Therefore, to avoid being wrong, the map-creator put lows all over the place, as one was bound to be right, I imagine, though perhaps I am merely suspicious.)
END-OF-YEAR DMI NORTH-OF-80-DEGREES GRAPH
They finally updated the DMI graph. Apparently they were “adjusting” the data in some way and it caused their computer to crash, and it took over a week to fix it. I hope they have learned their lesson. If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! (Spoken by an old fellow who values tradition because he is becoming one.) (Click to enlarge.)
One thing this graph makes quite clear is that this years arctic outbreaks are very different fron the ones I was comparing it to in October, namely 1976-1977. Look at the graph for 1976:
In 1976 the cold built up over the Pole, and wasn’t discharged until the end of the year (and especially in January of the following year,) where the discharge is shown by temperatures at the Pole rising above normal. This year the discharging has not allowed the cold to build at the Pole until more recently. This may be an indication that, while the winter of 1976-1977 was over it’s most severe stage in January, and relented by mid February, the winter of 2013-2014 may have two halves, (“like a football game,” in the words of Joe Bastardi, “and we are entering halftime.”
In order for this to happen we must shift from a pattern controlled by the Pacific to a pattern controlled by the Atlantic, and this is no mean feat, and there is many a slip between the cup and the lip. However it does seem that the arctic is reloading.
NOTE —Another problem with computer last night—
JANUARY 4 —DMI MAPS FOR YESTERDAY AFTERNOON AND THIS MORNING
The high towards Canada is stronger, and developing a slight “Snout of Igor” ridge towards central Siberia, wafting a weak flow of very cold air right over the Pole.
Both the Pacific and Atlantic continue to infiltrate weakly, with the Pacific larger but the mildness moderated (cooled) by passage over continental Alaska, as the Atlantic air is also cooled by by its passage over continental Europe. The mild air off the coast of Norway is largely sucked west and then south by the vortex of the Icelandic Low.
The Pacific air is pointing a wedge towards the Pole from Alaska. If you draw an imaginary front down the center of that wedge and south across Alaska, it forms the boundary between Pacific “Chinook” air and bitter cold arctic air which you can follow all the way down the Canadian Rockies and on to north Texas in the USA. As the most recent arctic attacks relents in the USA the Chinook winds are likely to make some eastward progess to the south, which may well mean it stops entering the Arctic to the north. (Only so much to go around.)
UK MET MAP
“Monty” has failed to inject new life into the Icelandic low, and it is turning into a disorganized shambles. It’s a tangled web. I wouldn’t like to be a European forecaster looking at that web of deceit. Fortunately a nice, simple-minded, naive American low is entering from stage left, ready to create an enormous Newfoundland Low that will to some degree replace the Icelandic Low, (until it, like all too many Americans, starts to pretend it is European, and becomes the new tangled-up Icelandic Low.)
LOCAL VIEW —Recovery Day—
This cold blast made it all the way down to Central America, where my middle son is working on a research project in a rain forest Belize. That bit of a front down there is giving them torrential rain. (What do you expect, in a rain forest?) It also is a lurking entity on a map that it is best to keep an eye on, especially as the northern blast gives way to a southern blast you can already see streaming north in the middle of the USA. I think I’ll dub the next storm “Yo-yo,” because that’s the sort of winter we’ve been having: A yo-yo winter. The arctic is ahead on points, but we do get relief from the cold and snow, which gives us time to recover. It might be up in the 40’s early Monday, though temperatures will again crash as Yo-yo has some more arctic air in its wake. We’ have to keep an eye on something blowing up on that arctic front, (especially something coming up from Belize.)
On Joseph D’Aleo’s excellent site on WeatherBELL there was some information that surprised me. Apparerently both yesterday’s storm, and the one around a fortnight ago, qualified for inclusion on the honor roll of the Northeast Snowfall Impact Scale list. (It has a mathematical formula, far too complicated for my noggin, which combines snow depth and snow area and creates a number. (A six inch snow over a wide area can add up to the same number as two feet over a smaller area.) The list goes back to the 1950’s, and in this decade we already have more storms on the list than any other decade, even though we are only four years into this decade. (So much for winters getting less snowy.)
Joseph D’Aleo was saying that, in his experience (and the guy may even be more of a geezer than I am) he never remembers heavy snow falling in a north wind with a temperature of only one degree in Boston. Boston had a foot and a half, and north of there (and southeast of me) they had two feet, while here we only got 8 inches. (Fine with me.)
What interested me was the fact they had fog along the coast. The dewpoint was the same as the temperature, but the temperature was down near zero. That is not a fog I would like to be in. As it was, I think my lungs got burned a bit by the cold. (I think the Abernaki Indian word for such lung-burning air was “pogonip.”
My wife and I decided to go out to a movie on a Friday night, figuring a crowd in a theater might be warmer than our 200-year-old house. We went and saw “Philomena,” at an old wooden theater in Wilton, and I noticed as I walked in everyone still had their coats on, and some had their woolly hats on. Likely the theater was nearly as cold as some air-conditioned theaters I’ve shivered in, in July, but at least I was dressed for January, and therefore more comfortable yesterday than in July.
(The movie was pretty sad, for a comedy. It is something to look back more than a half century to the 1950’s, and remember what a shame unwed mothers faced. I can remember it. However it is also pretty horrific to look around now and see the messes leniency has created. Humanity has an amazing ability to never get things right.)
The movie was in some ways a chick-flick, and when movies don’t have me in their grips I spend some time looking around at the other movie-goers. Often it is as entertaining as the movie. Last night I noticed young people don’t seem to go out to movies as they did when I was young. The crowd of less than a hundred (it was a small theater,) was mostly silver-haired and wrinkled, and this bunch of oldsters looked like a collection of eccentrics, judging from their cold-weather attire. Then it hit me: They were all my age. They were bunch of old hippies.
It hits me all the time, over and over, that hippies have become geezers. I don’t know why it is such a shock, but it is. Who could ever imagine such youth could ever get so old? However the one thing I liked was that they were all old enough to remember back when an unwed mother didn’t get a helping hand, and instead got social ostracism the young find difficult to even conceive. (bad pun)
When I was young, if you got your girlfriend pregnant suicide was a very real option, and nearly every town had its “Lover’s Leap.” Now people don’t even know why a few remaining cliffs have that name.
It must have been a good movie, because it did make me think.
It was zero as we walked back to the truck, the snow underfoot squeaking. Around us other vehicals were starting up without a driver in sight. Not all modern gadgets are bad, and I wish we had those ignition keys like a TV’s remote control, that allows you to start your car from the lobby of a theater, but we don’t. Our truck is too traditional.
It was down near minus ten in the valleys, and minus-seven on my back porch, by morning. (-22 Celsius.) At that temperature the salt does no good on roads. However the squeaky snow isn’t at all slippery, and traction is good as you drive.
I started the coal stove, and our dog and cat immediately abandoned the wood stove and became book-ends on either side of the coal stove. The wood stove wasn’t doing well, so I cleaned the flue today, and now it glows. Also I thawed out a bathroom pipe. (It’s rough when your toilet won’t flush.) It was your typical recovery day, with the temperatures getting back up towards 20 (-7 Celsius,) and not dropping much as evening has come on. Tomorrow the real warming commences. (I won’t mind it a bit.)
JANUARY 4 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
I’ve been writing elsewhere, and am just taking a quick glance at these maps before bed. I hope you have more time to study than I have. What I note is the high pressure over towards Canada getting stronger, and the Icelandic low is spinning a protrusion of low pressure further north than I expected.
Lastly, temperatures continue to fall over the Pole itself. Hard to measure on the map, but it shows in the wonderful temperature graph prepared by DMI, (just starting a new year.)
Temperatures are plunging down to nearly normal, which is unusual during a winter where cold air has been exported so much. This build-up is bad news for some sub-polar region. Personally I hope it is the North Pacific. Those fishes up there have never complained to me about their heating bills, when the arctic wolves of cold come south.
JANUARY 5 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
Some milder temperatures are reaching the arctic via an inland flow over Europe, as can be seen by slightly milder temperatures in the Kara Sea. Barents Sea remains open. Arctic high pressure over north Canada is getting stronger. The old Icelandic low is weakening as Ming starts to show fringes of its influence down at seven o’clock on the map. On a whole the Pole remains cold, but in an average way,
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
Ming is now the biggest bully on the block, down to 934 mb. Though it is hanging back it is kicking a whole slew of fronts and troughs east towards Britain and the English Channel.
Once you get inland in Europe the flow remains south, distressing snow-lovers but merciful to those living in fuel poverty. The west to east flow over Spain and storm south of France may indicate the southern storm track is showing twitches of life, and may hint at a pattern change for the second half of January.
JANUARY 5 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— Arctic at coldest so far—
High pressure is again attempting to ridge across the Pole. Easterly winds from the
Laptev Kara Sea across to Greenland keep most Atlantic invasions at bay. Only some highly modified air sweeps inland across Europe and then up to the Laptev Kara Sea, but the air over that sea stands between ten and twenty below. In a like manner air bled north inland over Alaska, and the air over towards Bering Strait is slightly milder, though chilling and diminishing in extent, for developing east winds across the Bering Strait are cutting off the Pacific as well.
This has allowed the Arctic Sea to cool to the coldest levels of the winter. On average the air at two meters, north of 80 degrees latitude, is nearly thirty below zero Celsius. ( -22 Fahrenheit.)
This is still a half degree above normal for the Arctic Ocean, which as been exporting a lot of its cold. As a result both Siberia and northern North America are snow covered, with their big lakes frozen solid, and are effectively creating cold on their own. Check out Dr. Ryan Maue’s map of 2 m temperatures over Asia, from WeatherBELL. (This is from the 1800z GFS model’s initial run; double click to fully enlarge.)
The temperatures are in Fahrenheit, and it can be seen Igor is looking mean. There is a vast pool of air between 40 and 50 below zero, despite the invasions all autumn and early winter of milder European air across the Steppes. This air is a full twenty degrees colder than the air over the Pole.
Then check out the Maue Map of two meter temperatures over North America.
This shows very cold air, not as cold as Siberia but as cold as the Pole, snouting all the way down into the USA, with frosts all the way down to the Rio Grande Valley and Mexico.
All the prep work has been done, and the set up is there for some very nasty winter weather in places that sometimes escape. Note the subzero temperatures on the surface of Hudson Bay, where open water kept temperatures up near thirty-two (freezing) only a month ago. The ice is getting thicker. The northern Canadian Great Lakes, (Great Slave Lake and Great Bear Lake, as well as Lesser Slave Lake and Lake Winnipeg,) still show some slight warming, but it is warming through ice, and nothing like it once was. Even the southern Great Lakes are starting to Freeze up:
Another Map from Dec 31, before the recent sub-zero blast hit those waters:
These are not signs of a mild winter. I have seen winters where the southern Great Lakes don’t freeze at all. The fact they are freezing over so swiftly during the first week of January does not bode well for those who, often without knowing it, derive protection from the true brunt of arctic cold through the warming effect of their waters. Those waters will not warm as well, if sheathed in ice.
Europeans especially should not drop their guard. They should enjoy their southwest flow while it lasts, but remember the air in Siberia to their east. Should the AMO and AO go negative, (as forecast by many models,) their winds will turn east, and the cold will come.
Speaking of which, I ought check out their map:
UK MET MAP
“Ming” now is big frog in the Pond, and rules the Atlantic, though he is already weakening. Notice how far south of Iceland it is, and notice the low which Monty kicked ahead (“Montyson?”) on the southern storm track to Italy. Though Ming will loop-de-loop up towards Iceland, it will be different from Monty, further south and east.
Perhaps we are seeing a sign of a transition beginning. It is not the new pattern, but it a mixed up mess with elements of the old and the new in it. If you can recognize what is old you may be able to spot what is new, and glean hints of what the new pattern will do.
The next low, “Yo-yo,” is taking a far more northerly track through North America, and will likely enter this map up to the west of Greenland. That will throw a wrench in the works of the old pattern, and even seem like an older pattern from last Autumn (when I studied storms undergoing “morphistication” as they crossed the Greenland icecap.) However the source regions are changed, now, so the result will be changed as well.
However it may allow a little high pressure to expand up from the Azores towards England, and give them a break. As I’ve looked at these maps it has seemed they have been getting a lot of dark days, wind, and rain. In the above map it looks like, even with Ming far out at sea, they are getting hit by Ming’s fronts and associated winds. It looks wet, wet, wet, without any snow and little frost, and I imagine they are sick of it. Days are short and dark enough up there, this time of year, without endless cloudiness.
To the northeast in Scandinavia I suspect they get more snow, and more sun (briefly, around noon,) and likely are enjoying the mild winter more, however they should be glancing over their shoulders towards Siberia. East winds have been blowing for a solid week, not far to their north, over the Arctic Sea, and such winds can slide south, in which case Scandinavians are the first to know the pattern is changing.
LOCAL VIEW —THE COLD RELENTS, BUT FOR HOW LONG?—
Today’s maps, showing Yo-yo acting like a summer storm and heading up to loop-de-loop up by James Bay in Hudson Bay, and the warm surge coming up the east coast of the USA, but running into resistance up here in New Hampshire. The snow not many miles from me on the radar map shows the cold is hanging tough.
It is such a relief when the cold relents. It was seven below two mornings ago, and the pipe that refills our toilet froze. That pipe runs up from our cellar, past a weakness in the foundation some mouse drilled a hole through. Other faucets I leave dribbling when it drops below zero, for I have a 24 years of experience concerning living in a house older than our nation, and know its weaknesses. However this toilet never froze before, because a mouse never visited before, and that hole is a new one. It is amazing what a blast of cold air can come through such a small orifice. (I could expand on that theme, but perhaps it is wiser not to go there.)
Yesterday temperatures crawled up to eighteen, but when night fell the stars twinkled benevolently, and temperatures simply remained at seventeen all night, rising a degree to eighteen before dawn. (-8 Celsius.) That may not seem warm, but when it is windless you sure do notice the difference. Like a turtle, your head starts to poke out from your scarf.
When it is below zero I see no tracks in the woods. I don’t know where the creatures hunker down, but they know better than to wander about in the bone-chilling breeze like I do. However when the cold relents foot-prints reappear. When I took our dog out she sniffed up and down the side of the street with interest, reading the dog-newspaper, (for local critters, fisher-cats and foxes, use human streets rather than wading through woodland snows, in the wee hours.) Then, when the brilliant sun crested the hill on its low winter orbit, I was surprised to feel actual warmth in its rays. The morning before Old Sol was a failure, in that respect.
As I stood I heard the cry of an Oh-My-Gosh-Bird far away, but coming closer. (We call it that because you say, “Oh my gosh!” when you see one.) (It’s cry is deranged, and what you’d expect from a creature that hammers its head against trees for a living. It sounds like some aggravated jungle monkey hooting, and the cries usually start out rapid and gradually slow to a stop, with the final cries like a hen’s clucking. However this bird was especially deranged, and went on and on as it neared, so I looked to my dog, because I wanted to see what happened when one deranged creature met another.
Actually it is my wife’s dog. I chose another at the shelter, using my wisdom and experience, but she vetoed my choice and insisted on a dog with short, white hair, under the misconception it wouldn’t shed as badly as our last one. (In actual fact we have had to forgo wearing dark clothing.) It is a deranged dog that does bizarre stuff like chase it’s own shadow barking wildly, or bark at crows flying so far overhead you can only see dots. (In the face of any real danger she hides behind you.) In other words, an utterly useless dog, but interesting, and I was interested to see how she would respond as the Oh My Gosh Bird landed across the street on our neighbor’s flowering crab, and began gobbling withered, rotten apples that hung on the branches.
The above picture doesn’t do the bird justice. For one thing, it is bigger than a crow, which is one reason you say, “Oh my gosh!” For another thing, it has crazed eyes, and, when it cocks its head and looks at you, you get the distinct feeling that, while it might not be hammering its head against a tree at the moment, its brain is still bouncing around in the recesses of its skull.
And what did my wife’s crazed dog do when this crazed bird landed fifty feet away and cocked its head at us? Did it bark ferociously? Did it hide behind me? No. It just sat there, and cocked its head inquisitively in return.
After saying, “Oh my gosh,” a second time, I, being rational, had to come up with a reason for the strange behavior of the two beasts, and what I decided was that they shared a common understanding, both being nuts, and also the benevolence of the weather had gentled their natures.
What a lovely morning it was, as temperatures sprang upwards past freezing, as if it was April, but then the clouds rolled in, the happy sun vanished into a grey smear, and a cold drizzle began falling. The salt on the roads, which was useless at subzero temperatures, abruptly began working, and the squeaky snow turned to slush. Also I think the salt had an effect like the salt you put on ice when you make ice cream: It lowered temperatures. Either that or the pavement was slow to forget it recently was below zero. In any case, as it warmed, things got much more slippery.
This gave me a good excuse to stay home and relax, however my two younger sons haven’t learned the advantage of armchairs, and are off on adventures. The older one is in Belize, and if you look at the above maps you’ll see that, even though the arctic front that drove down to Central America has rebounded north, bringing moisture from Belize up our east coast, it left a bit of low pressure behind, so that son is learning why rain forests are called rain forests.
The youngest son insisted on heading off to some sort of conference of young, Christian radicals in Pennsylvania, despite the fact there were blizzard warnings. He arrived safely, but today, as he headed back, there were freezing rain warnings, (which I knew about but didn’t mention to my wife.) When he arrived back safely he had some wonderful tales to tell of driving on black ice.
However before he arrived safely my wife had reason to worry, and could also worry about my middle son in a jungle infested with creepy things in a perpetual downpour, and I decided it was unwise to let her worry. Amazingly, I left my armchair on a Sunday, and even more amazingly, I went grocery shopping with her.
I’m glad I went. Nearly half the cars in the parking lot were from Massachusetts, and the store was filled with strangely attired, (often over-weight,) youth with strange fashions and piercings in odd places, dangling garish jewelry. The New Hampshire natives were walking around with doubtful expressions, as if they had awoken in a dream within a Fellini movie. A person who worked at the store explained the reason for the odd mix of cultures was that Massachusetts issued its welfare checks at the start of the month, and the wiser welfare-recipients came to New Hampshire because prices are lower.
I entertained my wife saying politically incorrect things such as, “These are the wiser ones?” Besides making her laugh I saved her a lot of time (she said) by obeying her and trotting off to get stuff from far corners of the store. (I took longer than she would have taken, as I did have to ask the guys stocking the shelves where things were, but I like talking to young kids who have a job and work, in a store filled with young customers who don’t. In the end I decided it must be really rough to be young, these days, and that my sons aren’t half bad, though they do make their mother worry.
(Forty years ago I did make my own mother worry, and am sorry I did that, though I’m glad I went on the adventures I found for myself. And I did outlive her, which is first and foremost, if you are a son.)
JANUARY 6 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
The high pressure is slightly weaker on the Canadian side while, though still weaker over all, the extension to the Siberian side is strengthening slightly. Between the two a interesting and very weak low (above 1020 mb) is wandering across the Pole from Siberia to Greenland. Both entrance regions remained blocked by east winds, and the cold keeps building.
Ming may develop a secondary and fling the secondary through the Baltic Sea towards the end of the week, which could bring the east winds south, and put Scandinavia in the sights of Igor’s cold guns. Watch for the easterly winds to shift south as the week progresses.
Besides that possible arctic outbreak, there may be another developing as Yo-yo heads up the wrong side of Greenland. It’s west side could deliver a second blast of cold southward down towards Hudson Bay.
UK MET MAP
That innocent looking low in the lower left is a zipper coming off Yo-yo’s warm front. It may be what scoots across and into the Baltic by Friday. I’ll dub it “Yo-zip.”
LOCAL VIEW —MORNING SURPRISE—
This morning’s map (click to enlarge) shows a warm front trying to push inland to New Hampshire. It didn’t have much luck over night. I think that gob of moisture that came all the way up from Belize had just enough spin on its west-side to retard the east-side flow of Yo-yo’s secondary, “Yo-son.” In any case there was a sheet of ice over everything when I got up, even as temperatures were in the 40’s on the coast to our east, and even above fifty on the other side of Vermont, to our west.
So I had to rush around spreading sand at the Child Care. The entire town seemed frantic, as the ice wasn’t forecast. We can get free sand down at the Town Garage, and I went twice. It’s a good place to gossip, but I didn’t have much time for that.
Now I’m all stiff and sore, and the effort seems a bit meaningless as temperatures jumped from 32 to 44 in the fifteen minutes it took to drive a couple mischievous boys to kindergarten. (0 to 7 Celsius.)
I don’t see how a front can come through like that, without a breath of wind. The fog was intense as the temperatures jumped. (We had some lightning and thunder before dawn.) Now it is raining and still mild.
I’d write about gossiping at the “Town Pile,” but I’m too weary. Anyway, I already wrote about it, last February: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/02/13/ice-and-salt-dont-mix/
JANUARY 6 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS
UK MET MAP
(Sorry for lack of commentary. I’m busy writing an essay.)
JANUARY 7 —DMI MORNING MAPS
Entrance regions on both Atlantic and Pacific sides remain blocked by easterly winds. Icelandic Low remains strong. Weak low has completed polar transit, and ridge is reestablishing itself over the Pole. “Double-crosser” flow likely. Cold continues to build.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET
Ming continues to weaken, but still owns the North Atlantic. Very weak Yo-zip at bottom center will develop into a ho-hum storm and cross England on Thursday and be in the Baltic by Friday. East winds to its north will allow cold Siberian air to start infiltrating northern Scandinavia. How far south it gets remains to be seen.
LOCAL VIEW —YO-YO WEATHER—
My ancient back-porch hi-lo thermometer informs me it got up to 48 after the warm front pushed through yesterday morning. It steadily dripped during the showery day, with the rain turning to a whirl of snow as the first cold front passed through at dark. Lovely sunset of low purple scud from the north against a high sky of salmon orange-pink, sliding up from the southwest. Below freezing by then, with puddles turning to glare ice. Second front passed through during the night, with winds increasing. Down to 8 at dawn and 4 two hours later, and it has only recovered to 7 at noon. (That temperature range of 48 to 4 is 9 to -16 Celsius.)
I am being consumed with an essay I am finishing up and will post seperately. Hopely it makes people chuckle, even as I theorize a bit about what might cause a cycle from more arctic ice to less ice back to more ice.
After I post that I’ll likely continue this post as a new post, as this one is getting too long and may crash my computer.
this post is continued at https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-days-lengthen-cold-strengthens/