This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was,

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 .  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 (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 Dec 28B 11094474


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:

A A Screen shot 2013_05_19 at 10_33_10 PM(1)

DECEMBER 28  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—  Again the lopsided Pole

DMI Dec 28B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 28 temp_latest.big (1)

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:

A battle 18 satsfc (3)A battle 18 rad_nat_640x480

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.


DMI Dec 29 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 29 temp_latest.big (1)

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.


A battle 19 satsfc (3)A battle 19 rad_nat_640x480

Rainy, grey, and depressing.


DMI Dec 29B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 29B temp_latest.big (1)

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.


DMI Dec 30 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 30 temp_latest.big (1)

“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.


UK Met Dec 30 11132625

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.


A battle 20 satsfc (3)

“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.)

A battle 20 gfs_t2m_noram_1


Here is a map of how much the temperature has changed in the past 24 hours.  (Click to enlarge)

Chinook 2 t0(18)

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.)


DMI Dec 30B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 30B temp_latest.big (1)

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 Dec 30B 11147266

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.)

UK Met Dec 30B eps_z500a_eur_1

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:

UK Met Dec 30B cmc_precip_mslp_afr_2

(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)

Great Lakes Dec 30 lice_00 _1_

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.)

A battle 21 satsfc (3)

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.


DMI Dec 31 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 31 temp_latest.big (1)

(Will comment later)


UK Met Dec 31 11159194

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A battle 22 satsfc (3)

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DMI Dec 31B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 31B temp_latest.big (1)


DMI Dec 31B 11172567


A battle 23 satsfc (3)


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—


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:

DMI Jan 1 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 1 temp_latest.big (1)

SMI Jan 1B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 1B temp_latest.big (1)

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.

A QUICK GLANCE AT A COUPLE OF UK MET MAPS (Click to enlarge)UK Met Jan 1 11184375

UK Met Jan 1B 11197085

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:)

A A Screen shot 2013_05_19 at 10_33_10 PM(1)


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:

A battle 24 satsfc (3)

A battle 25 satsfc (3)A battle 25 rad_nat_640x480

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.

A battle 26 satsfc (3)A battle 26 rad_ne_640x480 (1)


(Now that they are safe, the derision can begin.)


DMI Jan 2 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 2 temp_latest.big (1)

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.


UK Met Jan 2 11208321

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—

A battle 27 satsfc (3)A battle 27 rad_ec_640x480

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.


DMI Jan 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 2B temp_latest.big (1)

(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.


DMI Jan 3 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 3 temp_latest.big (1)

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.


UK Met Jan 3 11234488

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:

A battle 28 satsfc (3)A battle 29 satsfc (3)A battle 29 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

A battle 30 satsfc (3)

(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.)


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.)

DMI Year End meanT_2013 (1)

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:

DMI 1976 meanT_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—


DMI Jan 3B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 3B temp_latest.big (1)DMI Jan 4 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Jan 4 temp_latest.big (1)

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 Jan 4 11260290

“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—

A battle 31 satsfc (3)

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.)


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

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.)

DMI Jan 4B meanT_2014

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.


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

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,


UK Met Jan 5 11287119

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—

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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.)

DMI Jan 5B gfs_t2m_asia_1

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.

DMI Jan 5B gfs_t2m_noram_1

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:

DMI Jan 5B lice_00(2)

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 Jan 5B 11299763

“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.


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.

A battle 32 satsfc (3)A battle 33 satsfc (3)

A battle 34 satsfc (3)A battle 34 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

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.

Oh My Gosh Bird pileated-woodpecker-male_1421_web1

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.)


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

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 Jan 6 11311744

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.”


A battle 35 satsfc (3)

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:


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


UK Met Jan 6B 11323654

(Sorry for lack of commentary. I’m busy writing an essay.)


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

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.


UK Met Jan 7 11335566

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.


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.

NOON YESTERDAY   A battle 36 satsfc (3)

FORENOON TODAY A battle 37 satsfc (3)


this post is continued at


This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was,

For those of you just visiting this site for the first time, I began this series of posts last summer as a pleasant way to pass time, when the heat in New Hampshire was intense and the dew points approached seventy degrees. I was actually fed up with the Global Warming debate, which I saw as becoming decreasingly scientific and increasingly childish, but during the possess of debating had fallen in love with the arctic, (provided I could view it from afar.) I find it both beautiful and fascinating.

I’d been watching the arctic, and studying the historical records, for many years, largely due an interest in Vikings dating all the way back to my boyhood, which included a site near my boyhood home which some claimed was “Viking.”  Inadvertently this made me more aware of certain facts than the media was. The media often stated ludicrous things (in my opinion) in blaring headlines.

For what it is worth, I feel the arctic goes through cycles of increasing ice followed by times of decreasing ice, and that we are passing the lowest point of a time of decrease.  I feel the recent decrease was not a particularly big decrease, and the decrease during the Medieval Warm period, when the Vikings settled Greenland, was much greater.

Any way, I didn’t think many cared all that much what I thought, and was minding my own business running a happily obscure site where as few as ten people visited a day, when abruptly there were hundred of visitors. Once there were a hundred visitors in a single hour.  This occurred because the North Pole made the news, as it seems to do every summer.  Because I was viewing the Pole through the North Pole Camera, I happened to be Johnny-on-the-spot.

I assumed things would quiet down when the media, (with its notoriously short attention span and its inability to concentrate on any one subject long enough to become knowledgeable,)  went rushing off to whatever was next.  Much to my surprise people did not stop visiting this site, and this modest series of observations about conditions on the North Pole has now generated well over 20,000 views, though watching ice cannot be called a sensational pursuit.

Right now the extent of ice at the Pole has more than doubled, from under 6 million km2 to over 12 million km2.  I could make a sensational headline out of that data, though it happens every year. However that would involve evoking the threat of a coming ice age, and that will be politically incorrect as long as Global warming is politically correct, and therefore I’d have a hard time finding a paper to publish my headline.  Therefore I won’t do it.  There’s no use making a complete fool of yourself, when there’s no money in it.

Instead I’ll stick to doing what I do best, which is to simply observe, and wonder about things.  Sometimes wondering takes the form of proposing a theory, however I do not claim to be any sort of university-educated expert on the subject of arctic ice.  Other times my wondering will screech to a halt and I will make a definate statement, such as< “That is balderdash!” however on those occasions I am being asked to deny seeing what I observed with my own eyes.  That does not make me a scientist or authority. That merely makes me a witness.

My habit of wondering tends to take me off on tangents. In order to give these posts some sort of center, I have tried (and often failed) to orbit the subject of the specific iceberg the North Pole Camera was situated upon, even though the camera was itself rescued at the end of September. “Our” berg had drifted hundreds of miles, and even with the camera removed had quite an array of equipment deployed on it, placed by more than a single college or government department, as putting these arrays in place is both dangerous and expensive, and therefore resources are pooled.

Our berg happened to have two GPS’s, which proved handy when our berg apparently split in two.  Our Forkasite, (which was short for “Former Camera Site,”) then became two sites, at times drifting as much as seventy miles apart (and as much as fifty miles a day.)  I dubbed the first site “Forkuoy” (for I assumed it was a buoy,) and the second site “Forkarma,” (for it reported the Army data.)  Unfortunately the Forkouy has started to produce garbled data, and now is good for little more than irregular reports of its position, however the Army Forkarma is still drifting south, giving us an inkling of what we can’t see in the midwinter darkness. We can have no idea whether its berg will crumble, and drop the still-functioning GPS and thermometer into the dark depths of the sunless sea, or whether it will continue on, to see the very southern tip of Greenland, and the sunshine of the spring.

I’ll give the Forkarma reports when they become available, and also twice a day try to post the DMI maps of polar air pressures and temperatures that overlook our site. Unfortunately the DMI site recently stopped producing their wonderfully simple maps, (hopefully due to some small glitch and not due to a change in policy.) Until they resume posting I will use Dr. Ryan Maue’s interpretation of initial data from the Canadian modle, which appears as a map, and which I get as a subsciber to the WeatherBELL site.

However those maps show storms, and I often get curious about those storms, which leads to other maps and an expanding awareness of weather patterns in Europe, Asia, and North America. After all, the little berg our Forkasite sat upon is part of a greater Arctic, which can greatly effect all northern nations, this time of year.

I tend to give storms names. I try to be amusing, but know it annoys some people. You will have to forgive me as you might forgive some weird old uncle.

I will try to avoid the politics of Global Warming as much as possible, but find it very difficult to talk about our innocent iceberg without getting drawn into brawls.  So you’ll also have to forgive me if my eyes bug out and I breath rapidly through clenched teeth, from time to time.  I usually get over these fits fairly swiftly.

The updates are added to the bottom of the post.  If you are entering on my “home” page you can click the cartoon balloon beside the post’s title, which takes you down to the start of the comments, and then scroll up to the most recent update.

I had to discontinue pictures from the other cameras scattered around the Arctic Sea, because they have all been shut down, with the exception of the webcam atop a bank in Barrow, Alaska.  I think the buoy-cameras may be solar powered. In any case, there is little to see in the 24 hour darkness. If I’m still around when they start the cameras back up next spring, the pictures will resume.

Lately I’ve started to include something I call the “Local View.”  This is a somewhat self-centered view of how the North Pole is affecting my brother’s small farm, which is also a Childcare Center, in southern New Hampshire.  I have a hunch this could be a bad winter on this side of the planet, so this feature could get interesting.

Last but not least, a long time ago I studied poetry very studiously and got good grades at it. ( A more useless subject, in terms of making money or being “practical,” I doubt exists.) However it explains the fact this blog may occasionally dissolve into purple prose. (I try to hide a sonnet in the prose at least once a week.)

Hopefully that covers everything.  If I have forgotten anything, please feel free to comment.  The comments are my favorite part of hosting these posts.

DECEMBER 15  —Still no DMI maps, so more Maue Maps—

DMI Dec 15B pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 15B temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

(click maps to enlarge, and click again to enlarge more.)

I missed this morning’s maps, and it is amazing how swiftly things become unrecognizable if you don’t pay attention.

The Chet-morphistication/Chetzip/Morkthind combination (henceforth just “Chet”) has brought some milder air up to the northernmost Atlantic, and is fairly strong, but Chetson to its south is even stronger, at 952 mb.  The third low to the west is “Idano,” because I-don’t-know where it came from. (A remnant of Chet?)

What impresses me is how Chetson just bounced of the European High Pressure, into one of those occlusion loops. That ridge is persistent!

The cross-polar-flow persists into Canada, but some models now suggest that huge build-up of cold in Canada is not coming down to the USA, but rather will sling off to the east and join the attack of the westerlies on the persistent ridge.  That would be a change.


I am flunking as an observer, because I can’t figure out what is so different about the look of this map. I think it is the high over Europe. It is less round and more of a Scandinavian ridge.  I’ll have to sleep on it, and let the idea do whatever ideas do when you sleep on them.

UK Met Dec 15 10759047


We have a December 16 report from our Forkarma site, though it is still December 15th here.  It was at 72.46 N, 15.09 W, which places it 12.5 miles nearly due south of where it was earlier today.  Temperature was  -6.30 C

To the north-northeast, at 75.92 N, 12.05, W our companion Buoy 2013B: has temperatures of -0.22 C, and actually got above freezing back at 0300z, when it briefly rose to 0.3°C. That is much warmer air than we have seen in a long time, off the east coast off Greenland.

No reports from Forkuoy.


I’ve been busy snow-blowing an entire farm, (plows create too huge a heap, if you get many storms, so I use a snow-blower.)  Besides the drives and the Childcare parking lot, I do a path out into the pasture, and also an area so the smaller kids can sled without sinking out of sight. I was going to do the pond for skating, but the weight of the snow pushed the ice down, and water welled up, and the entire pond had a surface of slush.  It will freeze and make the ice thicker, but it makes for rotten skating.  However it gives you an idea how heavy the snow was, which is unusual for snow when temperatures are cold.  It was such fine flakes it fell as a sort of packed powder.

A sunny day with swiftly moving alto cumulus, and a weak front of some sort in mid-afternoon which gave us flurries. Temperatures did rebound up to 27, but fell to 20 by sunset.

As Rocky departs eyes are looking west to Tipzipclip, up in Saskatchewan. There’s a chance it will bomb out the moment it smells the Atlantic, and give us four inches on Tuesday.

It’s not any one storm that wears you down during a hard winter.  It is the relentlessness of it all.


DMI Dec 16 pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 16 temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

The models are suggesting a new pattern that will be interesting to observe, if it actually happens.  (I’ll have to see it to believe it.)  Rather than crossing the Atlantic and ripping up the baby-ice in Barents Sea north of Scandinavia, as has been the case all autumn, the models are suggesting Chet and Chetson will take a wrong-way-route west, over the top of Greenland and back along the arctic coast to Alaska.  As this feature pibots west, to its south the coldest air in the entire arctic, minus forty air west of Hudson Bay,  will pivot east.

That’s fine with me.  I don’t particularly want any minus forty air come south to my back yard. However what will that cold air do as it pours out over the Atlantic south of Greenland?  Stay tuned!


With the arctic fully loaded with arctic air west of Hudson Bay, I get a bit nervous about it unloading to the south.  All it takes is a good gale blowing up over Newfoundland to stream that air south, and once it gets going it likes to keep going, hitting us as cruel winds locally called “The Montreal Express.”

Of course, there are other directions it can unload besides south, so I am interested to notice, (a midst the hundreds if not thousands of maps generated by Dr. Ryan Maue at WeatherBELL,) that the GFS has a solution that gets me off the hook.  I thought I’d share three maps that show the GFS’s guess (and it is a guess, albeit educated,) at how the upper atmosphere will alter over the next five days, and how this downloads all the minus forty cold that “The Snout of Igor” pumped into Canada to the east, beneath Greenland and out into the Atlantic.  (Perhaps I seem heartless, passing the buck in this manner off to Europe, but I’m doing it for the children.  They want a white Christmas, and its been quite warm over there.)

.The maps I’m copying are the 500 mb maps of atmospheric pressure, with anomalies shown as red for higher than usual, and blue as lower than usual.  I’m showing the maps for 48 hours from now, 72 hours from now, and 96 hours from now.  The “pivot” is the low pressure trough that starts out right over me, but swings east and north around to the east coast of Greenland, pulling a lot of cold air with it.

48 HOURS  Pivot 1 gfs_z500_sig_noram_9

72 HOURS  Pivot 2 gfs_z500_sig_noram_13

96 HOURS Pivot 3 gfs_z500_sig_noram_17

The neat thing about these maps is that they show how the “steering currents” can swing right around, and turn a cold pattern to a warm one. I very much like seeing air from southern California steered my way. The problem is, of course, it is a figment of imagination, at this point, and we all know about figments, especially computer’s. (Putting faith in figments gives you figgy pudding?)

One problem with these maps is that upper air low that appears in the Pacific off southern California.  It looks very real, but in the past I’ve waited five days, and the low simply fails to magically manifest from thin air, leaving me standing in boots and a raincoat with an umbrella on a sunny day.

The second problem involves that nice, warm-looking southerly flow.  If you look to Canada you can still see a northwest flow coming down the east side of the Canadian Rockies, and this flow can sometimes slide under the warm flow, at lower levels of the atmosphere.  (Remember this map is up at the 500 mb level.) Rather than a nice southwest flow you wind up with “pressing” cold air, and a front from Southern California right up to my back pasture in New Hampshire. Rather than sunny California weather you get lows rippling along the front, and rain changing to snow changing to rain changing to snow, and slush, and grumbling misery. (Sorry if I sound pessimistic, but I’ve been frosted too many times by warmth that never makes it this far north.)

Winter cold is hard stuff for the models to handle, because it can be so thin and sneaky, sliding close to earth like a stealth fighter avoiding radar. I’ve stood in cold north winds as, only a thousand feet above my head, clouds were streaming over from the south.

In any case, I thought you’d be interested in the swing the GFS is seeing.  Now to see if its “solution” is the correct solution.

LOCAL VIEW  —Suck up the sunshine while it lasts—

A gorgeous sunny day, with a single small cumulus to the east, looking like it might dry up. This may be the first day without a single snow flake in the past week.  One thing I try to do on days like this is to go out and look at the sun with my eyes shut, and simply listen to the quiet of the winter woods, attentive to small sounds like the piping voice of a gold finch or laugh of a distant jay, an even more distant cawing crow, or the abrupt cheer of a chickadee. Even the intrusion of a jet passing overhead can interest, as you can tell it is windy aloft by the nature of the huffing.

However my main reason for standing seeing the sun turn my eyelids golden is because I’m cheap. I once heard people were paying perfectly good money to spend time laying in a room full of bright light bulbs to cure themselves of SAD (Sunshine Affective Disorder,) and I figured the sun could cure me for free.  (Not that I was depressed, but I didn’t want to take any chances.)

My main reason for posting this map is because it seems so unlikely that Tipzipclip, way up there in central Winnepeg, could ever get down this far south to trouble us with grey skies, gloom, and snow tomorrow.  But systems in the northern stream like to do that, especially in the lee of a departing storm like Rocky. A rocky 9 satsfc (3)

Another thing that presses storms south is the sheer weight of cold air.  It sinks like a hot air balloon rises, and when it hits frozen earth is has nowhere to go but out, away from the Pole. And there’s some very cold air to our north.A Rocky 9 gfs_t2m_noram_1

I have my doubts all of that air will be whisked away to the east.  I think we soon will be like this poor fellow. (Hat tip to blogger “OssQss” for rediscovering the cartoon.)A cartoon FreezeYouButtOff


DMI Dec 16B pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 16B temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1


DMI Dec 17 pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 17 temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

I can’t comment much, as I’m either too busy or too tired. However this is an unusual map and well worth watching.  A wave of Atlantic warmth has been surged right up over the Pole, which is about an non-zonal a pattern as you can get. Meanwhile the arctic has moved to my back porch.  Judging from this map (temperatures in Fahrenheit,) it is twenty degrees warmer at the Pole than on my back porch.  It is fifteen degrees at the Pole and minus five on my back porch.  (-9.4 versus -20.6 Celsius.)

Hey! North Pole! Get back where you belong!  You’re not wanted here!


uk met Dec 16b 10783270UK Met Dec 17 10796216

Just a quick glance to observe how the ridge is deflecting the onslaught of Atlantic storms up towards the Pole.  (That is “Rocky” appearing in the lower left of the top map, charging across the Atlantic to take a run at Europe. )  It looks like the top of the ridge is finally being bent over, judging from the 500 mb map below. (A Dr, Ryan Maue WeatherBELL map.)  This is the start of a flattening of the ridge, but it will remain strong in the south for a while.(Click maps to enlarge.)

UK Met Dec 17 gfs_z500_sig_eur_1

LOCAL VIEW  —Frigid dawn; More snow coming—

I konked out last night before I could pop in the map. (Stiff and sore from removing Sunday’s snow, wind burned from watching older kids who insisted on sledding in sub-zero wind-chill; irked by poor parent who was late to pick up child due to being stuck in snow; then rushed to Deacon’s meeting and then hustled to choir practice for big Christmas cantata, then late dinner, and then at long last sat down at computer to study the arrival Tipzipclip,  and just about fell face-down onto the keyboard in weariness.  Coffee just doesn’t work the way it used to.) Anyway, here’s last nights map:

A TIP 1 satsfc (3)

And here’s this morning’s map, with radar showing the approach of snow.

(Computer refusing to upload, and I need to rush to warm up workplace as it is minus nine out.  Will upload later.)  (And now it’s later, and I’ll try again.)A TIP 2 satsfc (3)A Tip 2 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

(That’s more like it.) (Click to enlarge)

Blast. Just got a call from the Childcare. The water quit.

LATER LOCAL VIEW   —Who shook the snow globe?—

A TIP 3 satsfc (3) A TIP 3 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

I had to run over to the Childcare to get the water working.  I was sure it was frozen pipes, but it turned out a pressure-switch for the well was shot.  I can work it manually, until the plumber arrives with a new one first thing in the morning. I’d try to fix it myself, but it would take me six hours just to locate my tools, and I’ve a blog to run, y’know. (Also I’m in no mood to face a possible geyser.) When I emerged from the dirt-floored cellar of the old farmhouse,  where the plumbing for the entire complex is located, big fat flakes were falling.  I hurried home to find out what I’d missed, and see a low is developing on the warm front on the coast.  As a low on a warm-front is a “zipper,” I suppose the new storm should be called “Tlpzipclipzip.”

It is interesting to watch all the lows strung out behind, and to try to figure out if they are consolidating their energy, or whether the energies are fighting each other and preventing the development of a swift little gale off the coast.  Unfortunately I’m going to have to run back to work, and rather than the internet I’ll rely on the ache in my bones, to tell me if the storm is blowing up on the coast.  (The NWS obviously thinks it will, as they just raised the “Winter Weather Advisery” for 2-5 inches of snow to a “Winter weather Warning” for 4-8 inches.”)

LAST LOCAL VIEW  —All over but the bragging (and shoveling)—

The whirl of snow moved over, giving us roughly six inches, with temperatures remaining cold, down around 12.

A TIP 4 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

A TIP 4 satsfc (3)A Tip 4d rad_ne_640x480 (1)

You can see some energy hanging back, down the coast in Virginia, (which makes me raise an eyebrow, though I think it will slip out to sea,) and also back over the Great Lakes. Things never came together for true “Bombogenesis,” however the Tipzipclipzip is a good example of a northern branch “Alberta Clipper” that gives more than the usual dusting.

What was best for those who enjoy bumper-cars is that the clipper passed through right during rush hour. Also it seems the economy is effecting the plowing. (Once the best plowing was done just before Christmas, as the road crews thirsted for overtime to fund Christmas Shopping, but this evening the side roads were untouched.) We had many parents arriving early to “beat the storm,” and having fewer children made work easier.  The kids didn’t last long out doors, as whirling flakes makes for wet faces, and at twelve degrees (-11 Celsius) that gets old pretty fast. So they came in and played board games by a toasty wood stove, with the white flakes swirling in a floodlight out a sliding glass door.

I left most of the clean-up for the morning, as the plows will mess up the entrances and exits if I do it all now. Fed the goats, who never went out at all today and didn’t seem to mind it much, and then slithered home, and here I am, remembering the day.

When it gets very cold it seems ordinary things become strange. For example, the slightly flat place where your tire rests on the pavement stays flat, as you start to drive, and it sounds as if you have a flat tire.  My wife’s truck seemed especially loud, and when I checked I found she only had ten pounds of pressure in a rear tire.  Even putting air in a tire is much harder, with the valve freezing and the air in the compressor weird with condensing water crystals.

However the dusk before dawn was especially odd this morning, as it was still cloudless and so quiet you could hear your ears ring. I went out to see if I could hear the trees crack, as they sometimes do in subzero cold, but perhaps it takes a breath of a breeze to do that, for the silence was amazing.

It was a rare calm: The sub-zero dawn hadn’t yet broken; the tangerine east stained my hanging breath, and my morning yawn stung fire in my chest. Neither bird nor beast barked nor sung, and no high, passing jet scoured the sky with soft thunder. The fierce cold sucked smoke up chimneys, but it towered all of twenty feet before, made less bold by the chill, it simply stopped, and then hung as my breath hung, stained orange as well: Chaotic clouds; haphazard flowers flung over a field of rooftops. It cast a spell that made my sleepy town a different place, on some far planet off in frozen space.

The final oddness was that the temperatures dropped further after the sun peeked over the horizon. Joe Bastardi mentioned this phenomenon once, (which makes no sense to me as it seems the sun’s first rays should cause immediate warming,)  however I have no idea why it occurs.


UK Met Dec 17B 10808185

The westerly attack did manage to shove a low through Scandinavia, (a complex mishmash of storms, including some part of “Idano.”)  Chet has vanished up to the north of Greenland.  Rocky has been stalled and loop-de-looping south of Iceland. The power of the high is still seen over Spain and France, and the winds to their west have turned south again. It even looks like a tongue of high pressure may be trying to reinforce the warm flow, nosing up from the Azores. It will be a battle to budge the high and make western Europe cold, which is likely good news for people hard pressed by inflated heating bills.


The  December 17 report (without time stamp,) reports our site is at 72.44 N, 14.53 W, with a mild temperature of -2.61 C. This places it 11.8 miles from where it was when I last checked.  What is interesting is that it has made very little southward progress, and has moved nearly due east.  The ice is spreading out, and is less densely packed against the coast.


DMI Dec 17B pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 17 temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

Something stinks in Denmark. I really miss those simplified DMI maps.

The big news is the wedge of mild air heading over the Pole, dragged up by the warm wind side of Chet. (At the Pole you can’t talk about “south-side” of a storm, as all sides are south sides.) That warm air will not last, as it is running headlong into the coldest arctic air. For some reason the data that went into this initial run of the Canadian model seems to fail to report how cold that air is, reporting roughly -25 where Buoy 2012G: is reporting  -44.82 C. (-48.68 Fahrenheit.)

I assume most of this air will be lifted like a hot air balloon and vanish from the 2 meter temperature maps.  It may form clouds that prevent cooling, but a lot of its heat will be lost to outer space in the 24-hour-a-day darkness.  There is a lot of debate about what happens to such heat.  The GFS model shows the wedge becoming a skinny noodle that crosses to the Alaska coast, but vanishes before it arrives.

I assume it will fuel Chet, but I’ve lost track of the storms. I’ll call Chet the smaller storm at the point of the wedge. The trailing storm at the top of Greenland will be “Chetrail.”

Rocky has wobbled north to Iceland, becoming a huge 948 mb storm, with storm-forse winds extending down to Scotland, and transporting another huge gulp of Atlantic air towards the Pole.

For the time being Barents Sea remains fairly calm, though too mild to form much baby-ice.  Idano crashed through the high-pressure ridge across Scandinavia (along with all sorts of bits and pieces of other lows whose names I have forgotten,) and now spins weakly in westernmost Siberia, with a tailing cold front with ripples on it. One ripple in the English Channel (off the map) may become Idanoson.

I don’t know where that heck that low northeast of Norway came from, so I’ll call it Waredaheck.

DECEMBER 18  —Glance at map before clean-up

A TIP 5 satsfc (3) A TIP 5 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

4:50 AM  I may be late posting today, as I may just go back to bed after clearing the snow.


I caught up on my sleep, but now must play catch-up with the Polar maps. The DMI site is still failing to post maps, to my disappointment, as it throws a wrench in my routine and makes things harder.  However the Maue Maps will do.

1200z DECEMBER 18

DMI Dec 18 pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 18 temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

0000z DECEMBER 19

DMI Dec 19 pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 19 temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

I need to run and open up the Childcare, but will comment on these maps in two hours.


Some interesting stuff is going on up at the Pole.  The thrust of Atlantic air has penetrated to the Bering Strait, dividing the arctic into two areas of sub-zero (Fahrenheit) cold.  With the arctic night near its maximum length, it not merely the Pole that generates cold, but the snow-covered tundra of Canada and Siberia are vast cold-creators as well, and therefore the warming of the Pole by this shot of Atlantic air does not guarantee warmth further south.  In fact Canada is loaded with minus forty air, and despite the influxes of mild air over Europe west Siberia is generating cold air in a sneaky way Europeans ought to keep an eye on. In central Siberia they likely are talking about how “mild” it is, however “Igor” is still lurking in eastern Siberia, with some minus forty temperatures of his own.

 I suppose it isn’t proper to speak of “generating” cold. I should talk of “losing heat.”  If I twist my brains around to that manner of thinking, I wonder what the warm air invasions of the Pole actually mean, in terms of how cold the winter is.  Rather than making the winter warmer, it might be robbing the sub-polar regions of the heat stored up by last summer.

After all, if the flow was zonal, not only would the cold stay up in the arctic, but sub-polar airmasses would rotate around the planet west-to-east further south, where they would lose heat less efficiently.  In terms of an “energy budget” the air with least heat to lose would be situated in the spot that loses heat most efficiently, while the air with more heat to lose stayed south, and therefore the total heat lost would be less. However when the zonal pattern goes all loopy, it seems to me the air with least heat to lose goes down where heat is harder to lose, while the air with more heat to lose goes north and loses it.  Therefore the planet as a whole would have less heat.

Just watch this pulse of “warm” air as it moves across the Pole, and see how swiftly it gets colder.  Right now it is nearly +20 at the Pole, (-7 Celsius,) however that  air never sees sunlight, and is moving over ice without any hope of being warmed by water beneath, and by the time it gets to the far side of the Arctic it will be near zero, (-18 Celsius.)  All that nice Atlantic warm, which could have stayed in sub polar regions, will have been squandered warming the arctic stars. Rather than changing snow to rain in sub polar lands and leading to less snow pack,  down where the sun shines at least a little and albedo is a factor, the Atlantic moisture and (relative) mildness likely has been dumping snow on the ice-pack, increasing the ice’s thickness (and the albedo next summer.)

All in all I can think up plenty of reasons that flooding warm air over the Pole in December doesn’t warm the planet as a whole. Whether they are sound reasons or not is a matter of debate.

In terms of the individual storms, I am not paying enough attention to properly track them.  Chet has all but vanished north of Alaska, while Chetrail has become complex north of Greenland, and is starting to reestablish the Siberia-to-Canada flow, though that flow is not complete.

One reason Chetrail is complex is that Rocky stormed northwest over Iceland and crashed into Greenland, and is performing some odd east-to-west morphisication of the icecap,  likely reappearing at the top of Baffin Bay over the next few days.

Far to the south of Iceland a new monster 948 mb gale is blowing up, which I suppose formed on one of Rocky’s trailing fronts, and ought be called “Rockyson.” After raking Scotland with howling winds it seems likely to loop-de-loop back towards Iceland.

It seems even when Tipzipclipzip appears on the map it too will decide Iceland is the place to hang out and dance the loop-de-loop. However the pounding of all these storms is gradually flattening the incredibly tough high-pressure over Europe.  Eventually something will reach a “tipping-point,” or a straw-breaking-camel’s-back point, and then a new pattern will appear.

The Aleutian Low that looks impressive at the top of the map, but is only down to 981 mb.  I don’t know why most of those storms have been so weak this winter. (Something to think about, when I have time.)

UK MET MAP —DECEMBER 19—  The high hangs tough—

UK Met Dec 19 10846455

The high pressure enjoying a vacation over Greece is reluctant to budge from the beaches, and is causing a traffic jam of lows in the North Atlantic.  Because the lows can’t move east they mill around, and occasionally escape in odd directions. Chet escaped over the top of Greenland and headed west, and now Rocky appears to be plowing right over Greenland to the northwest.  Rockyson made it as far east as Scotland, and is slamming a cold-front into the high-pressure as hard as he can, and also six upper air troughs. (The black lines on the map.)

(If I was an English Lord in a comfortable castle, I’d name each of those troughs.  Each represents an occlusion, and “ghost-fronts,” and likely was once a surface feature.  It might take a lot of time, but I’d have time, if I was a lord of leisure. However perhaps it would be too much like work, and get in the way of my leisure. In that case I’d assign a member of my staff to keep track of those black lines on the UK Met map.)

Despite the constant onslaught the stubborn high pressure simply goes “ho hum” and deflects all the storms.  The very top of the ridge has been dented down, and you can see the isobars indicating the south winds become west at the top of Norway, Sweden and Finland.  A few lows squeak through up that way, but they are tiny compared to some we’ve seen, and the sea-ice in the Barents Sea is getting a chance to slightly expand.

One small but interesting feature involves that cold front finally getting as far east as Spain. As it forges its way across Spain it will brew up a small low pressure over the Mediterranean, however the stubborn high pressure will defect it south right over the Atlas mountains and into the western Sahara Desert.   If a little rain squeaks through, the desert might bloom for Christmas.

But that is small consolation for a small boy in France, wishing for snow.


A interlude 1 satsfc (3)

As Tipzipclipzip exits to the upper right he is taking the cold air with him. It was interesting to watch, though I was too busy to comment. He pushed the cold arctic high ahead like a plow does snow.  The sub zero air went north, “lifting out,” which is not something we ordinarily consider: We think of cold air discharging south, to be warmed up by more southerly climes, but we don’t often think of it going back to the north without discharging, like an unfired gun back into a holster.

This opens the gates for some nice, non-arctic air to pay a visit. The low over the Great Lakes is actually the first Pacific storm able to successfully penetrate the west coast in a long time, having crossed the Rockies a couple days ago.  In the comments “stewart pid” observed from Calgary that they saw a respite of Chinook winds that lifted temperatures from below zero to fifty (10 Celsius,) before they crashed back down to -4 (-20 Celsius.)

This gives us a hint of the cold that still exists in the northern branch, even as we turn our winter-burned faces to the southwest to hope for balmy breezes from southern California in the southern branch.  We could very well see a battle of the branches developing.

However I’m going to cross that bridge when I come to it. Today I’m going to lick my wounds and recover. Last night it only got down to 24, (14 Celsius,) and during my extended lunch-break today we actually made it above freezing for the first time in days (that seem like weeks.)

It is only an interlude, but I’m sucking up sunshine like a camel at an oasis sucks water. (Not the most poetic image, but quite accurate.) I’m a lord in his castle, dripping with leisure, enjoying my maps. (By the way, the orange dashed lines on the above maps are the same things as the black lines on the UK Met maps.)

OK. Enough of that. Time to work.


I subscribe to WeatherBELL and hugely enjoy the site, and the excellent maps produced by Dr, Ryan Maue out of streams of data that is basically gibberish and gobbledygook to me.  It is well worth the price of a Starbucks coffee each day.  However I often don’t have the time to delve into detail, and on those days I prefer the simplicity of the DMI maps. DMI came back on line, after I had downloaded the Maue maps, so I decided to use both today.  Which do you prefer?


DMI Dec 19B pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 19B temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1


DMI Dec 19C pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 19C temp_latest.big (1)

Both maps are part reality and part modeled reality, as they portray the “initial conditions” that are used to start up a computer model.  These amount to scattered actual observations, and the vast areas btween the actual observations which must be “infilled.” (Such infilling occurs whether the maps are drawn by a computer or by a mortal weatherman.)  The DMI maps are the initial run of the European modle, while the “Maue Maps” I’ve been using are from the Canadian.

Both maps show that Rockyson, parked just southeast of Iceland and down to 943 mb, , is the big storm of the north for the moment.

Rocky has become basically invisable as he transits Greenland, heading northwest, but I expect him to reappear at the top of Baffin Bay, and to continue northwest.

Chet is now a ghost low, barely making a wave on the isobars.  Chetrail is a weak low north of northernmost Canada, but the cross-polar flow it dragged along with his movement has severed the backwards-S of milder air that reached from the Atlantic to the pacific this morning.

It is interesting to note the cross-polar-flow not only involves the colder Siberian air, but also some of the milder air from central Siberia.

Barents Sea remains surprisingly calm, however the Snout of Igor is reappearing further east.


The site has stopped posting the garbled data putmout by our faithful Forkuoy.  Alas, Poor Forkuoy, I knew him well.


Though it is December 19th here, Forkarma is reporting December 20th data, and states he is at 72.63 N, 15.86 W, with an above-freezing air temperature of +0.73 C.  Heat wave!

The same Army data states that to the north our CP (Companion Buoy) is coming in at  -5.09 C on the 19th (today), but other data states that was a low spike around noon, and that earlier saw above freezing temperatures of + 0.6°C ay 0300z, and later saw temperatures rise to -1.6°C at 1800z. These mild temperatures are associated with Pocky”s collision with the coast of Greenland, and the strong east winds caused by Rockyson to the south.

When I last reported, Forkarma was moving east and the ice was spreading out.  Since then it has been slammed back west-southwest 30.67 miles. The storms are again crunching the ice against the coast of Greenland.


I wait until the Canadian Ice Service map states the Bay is frozen, as I figure the Canadians know their Bay, (even though the Ice Service pastes an unaltered map with the next day’s time stamp, which is a no-no.  Even a yokel like me knows the arctic sea ice never is the same for two days in a row. )  I figure that, when the Ice Service gets around to saying so, it must be so.


The Navy maps have been saying it was frozen over for days.

Hudson Bay arcticicennowcast (1)

This freeze up is right on schedule, and is bad news for us mote-like mortals to the south,  for air will no longer be warmed by open water as it comes south. It warms noticeably, because the ice is thin and can easily crack into open leads in strong winds, but the warming is nothing like the warming Hudson Bay could pull off in November.  And it only gets worse as the ice gets thicker.  Now our only protection is the Great lakes, and they are already starting to freeze at their edges. (I got the following maps from Joseph D’Aleo’s superb sit at WeatherBELL.)

Great Lakes Dec 19 lice_00

This may not seem like much ice, but during a mild winter this is more ice than you see even at the peak, in early February.  I need not remind anyone it is still autumn, and winter hasn’t even started.  Should these lakes continue to freeze over, it is possible that the younger adults in USA will see cold like they have never seen in their lifetimes.

Until then, watch the temperature maps, and see how beneficent these lakes are to people hundreds of miles downwind, when it comes to mellowing cruel arctic blasts.  Also heed how, if they do freeze, the storm track is altered, just as the storm track must now be altered by the lack of open water up in Hudson Bay.


One thing I don’t need is extra work, but I tend to wake up in the night and create problems for myself. Even worse, I often leap from bed to solve the problems the next morning.

One such problem involves skating on our farm pond. I won’t let anyone on the ice until it is at least four inches thick, and have to put up with a great deal of whining from children at our Childcare who see me venture out testing the ice, yet hear me say they are not allowed to venture out.

I can actually venture out on ice less than two inches thick, but it is a little unnerving how the ice sinks as you walk. Down near an inch-thick it crackles as well, and you are a fool to venture out beyond waist deep.  However I can do all this because I know about ice.  I also know how springs under the ice can up-well slightly warmer water and make thin spots (and even holes) at the surface.  The slightest flow of water, both into a pond and also where it exits, makes ice thinner in those places as well. However small children don’t know these rules, so I don’t let them on the ice until it is absolutely safe.

The problem is that, as you wait for ice to get thick, snow can fall and spoil everything.

If the snow would just fall and sit there it could be removed, but it does more than just sit there. It presses down so heavily that water wells up around the edges of the pond as the ice is pressed down, and that water turns the snow on top of the ice to slush on top of the ice, which pushes the ice down further, which makes the slush spread in to the center of the pond.

Then you have to wait for the slush to freeze, before you can skate. (You also should not walk through that slush, even if there are three feet of ice under the slush, for every footprint will become a frozen divot to ruin future skating, when the slush freezes.).

This year, just when skating on beautiful, clean, clear back ice was about to start, we had several small snows followed by ten inches, which pressed the ice down and turned the pond to three inches of ice covered with three inches of slush.  There was no way, as a so-called “Child Care Professional,” I’d allow a child near the pond. However temperatures down to minus nine Fahrenheit froze the three inches of slush like stone, and now the pond had a half-foot of ice.  It was very safe.

Then we had our recent half-foot of fluffy snow.  It was just enough to again press the ice down and create more slush atop the good skating,  but I circumvented this natural process by hurrying onto the ice with a big 200 pound snow-blower.  (Not only did this clear the snow off the ice, but it showed the ice was safe for children weighing between thirty and seventy pounds.)

Even as I snow-blowed, the water was creeping in from the edges, creating a slush too heavy for the snow-blower to remove.  However I did clear the center.  I also wound up exhausted.  However it was worth it.  Why?  Because if you give children some ice to play on you don’t need to entertain them.  They are so enchanted they even forget to get into fights you need to break up. Therefore the exhaustion was worth it, for today I could just sag by the side of the pond exhausted and not lift a finger.

Even though I had everything to do with the creation of the situation the children were enjoying, they could feel I had nothing to do with the fun they were having.  That was fine with me.  In a way I liked being unappreciated, because it meant I could just stand back and watch. And think. And become profound.  (Usually dealing with kids means you have no time to be profound.)

One thing I thought about is how few adults appreciate the Creator who made the situation they either enjoy, or are planning to enjoy when they achieve their goals.

The other thing I thought about was the duality of work and leisure.  We work to create leisure, but how often, when enjoying the leisure of a well-earned good night’s sleep, do we leap from bed all anxious about some new work we have created for ourselves.

In the same manner the duality of the northern stream and southern stream are now stretching a front from southwest to northeast across the USA.  There is much talk of mildness and thaw, and of snow melting away and a green Christmas.

I have my doubts. From what I’ve seen, the northern branch is abnormally strong this year. Computer models compute the norm, and can’t take into account the abnormal.  Those models can’t see fronts pressing a little farther south than they consider the norm.  But that is all it takes to turn a Green Christmas into a white one.

A battle 1 satsfc (3)


DMI Dec 20 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 20 temp_latest.big (1)

“Rockyson” north of Iceland is likely slamming our Forkarma site, and bringing chunk of +5 degree isotherms nearly up to Svalbard. “Balmy” on coast of Norway (for December.) However the mild air injected over the Pole is rapidly cooling.  Weak Chetrail  is establishing weak cross polar flow.


UK Met Dec 20 10872923

Tipzipclipzip has completed his circuit of the globe and is now heading up to join Rockyson over Iceland and create a huge Icelandic low which will pretty much fill the entire North Atlantic over the weekend.

Watch that little low southeast of Spain and see if it gives the Sahara any sprinkles.


If you look above you’ll see I posted three maps from a GPS 500 mb forecast five days ago, and now we can see how well the forecast did.  The left map is from five days ago, while the right map is today’s initial run.

Pivot 3 gfs_z500_sig_noram_17GFS Dec 20 gfs_z500_sig_noram_1

It did quite well, actually. I had my doubts the low would form off southern California, but it nailed it.  You have to look hard to see that the upper air low formed a little more south and inland than the computer forecast from five days ago.  Of course, these little differences multiply with time, and the ten-day-forecast is far less likely to resemble reality than the five-day.

What I like to do is put the two maps on two separate tabs on my screen, and then line the maps up perfectly, and then click back and forth between the two maps, trying to become aware of all the small differences. I flatter myself thinking this allows me to see what the computer isn’t seeing.

What I notice in these two maps is that the reality has lows a bit stronger and digging a bit further south than the computer foresaw.  It isn’t much, but it tells me the computer is slightly underestimating the power of the north.


It is mild. It only got down to around 28 last night, and was up above freezing by nine.  The eves are dripping and no icicles are forming. I’m enjoying the break, and joking that now that autumn is nearly over maybe we can get some warmer weather.  However I’m distrustful of thaws.  Many big storms I can recall from the past were preceded by nice thaws.

Though the 500 mb map from the preceding post suggests we are getting air straight from Southern California, a glance at the surface map shows a cold front has swept right down through the state into Mexico, and we are actually getting our mild air from the Gulf of Mexico, via east Texas.

 A battle 2 satsfc (3)

My eyes distrustfully lift to that warm front in Montana, looking for pulses coming southeast in the northern stream. When I check Ryan Maue’s temperature map, I see it is plenty cold in Montana, even as it is plenty warm in east Texas.

A battle 2 gfs_t2m_noram_1

I don’t know about you, but I’ve watched enough Westerns to know that when a guy named Montana faces a guy named Texas, and they have a difference of opinion on what the temperature should be, some sort of shoot-out is in the cards. I reckon I don’t care much about the long-range forecast not showing any storms.  I’m keepin’ my shovel handy.


DMI Dec 20B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 20B temp_latest.big (1)

It looks like Rockyson has weakened and Tipzipclipzip is the new champ, down at seven o’clock in the circle.

The warm air intrusion over the Pole continues to cool rapidly, but the Snout of Igor cold intrusion warmed some, as well.  The cross polar flow is reestablished, but it looks like some sort of weak wave is moving across.

FORKARMA DATA  —Slammed into Greenland—

 Our site reported a second time on December 20, (without time stamp.)  I am guessing the reports must be at twelve hour intervals. The second report places us at 72.62 N, 16.18 W, which is 6.67 miles nearly due west of our last report.

In the last 24 hours the ice has moved some 30 miles west.  It seems to me that there must be some piling up of the ice, as the ice has little open water to use up, between our site and Greenland.  Some extent maps show 100 % coverage (Navy) and others 80-90% (Cryosphere Today) but, with ice crunching eastward, sooner or later the ice must bunch up in pleats like an accordion, and also, I imagine, become less mobile.

(Also much of the ice that had formed north of Svalbard was driven west into the Fram Strait pipeline, leaving open water again north of Svalbard.  It is little wonder that, despite so much ice being crushed west,  the ice in the pipeline still bulges further east than normal, in a few places.

Temperatures fell slightly at our site, to -1.17 C.


DMI Dec 21 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 21 temp_latest.big (1)

:Tipzipclipzip is a huge, sprawling storm basically usurping the entire North Atlantic, with fairly tight isobars off the map down over Scotland, but elsewhere so spread out the winds are not as strong as you would expect with a low pressure of 954 mb. It looks like the North Atlantic is going to stay nasty, with fresh lows pumping new energy into the huge Icelandic Low for at least a week, and keeping Western Europe in an Atlantic westerly flow.

An interesting event is occurring in the Canadian Arctic Islands, where Rockyson has apparently made a successful “morphistication” of the Greenland icecap, and some serious mixing of very cold air that was in place and imported Atlantic air on the Arctic Sea is occurring.  An almost imperceptible Chet-like wave is crossing the pole towards Canada, and perhaps this is what is making Rockyson retain strength where Chetrail simply weakened.  In any case models are showing a polar storm of modest size grow and drift towards Bering Strait, mixing up the Siberian air with the Atlantic air. (A second injection is following the first.)  Look at the Ryan Maue WeatherBELL arctic temperature  map for  1200 z on Dec 24, (Canadian Model.) (Double click to fully enlarge.)

DMI Dec 21 cmc_t2m_arctic_15

I doubt this storm will get strong enough to crack up the ice much (forecast to get down around 985 mb) however it does offer a chance to study what happens during such mixing events.  After last summer’s July gale the air seemed much colder.  I’m not sure what happens in the dead of winter. Also this will in some ways interupt the cross polar flow, so it will be interesting to see if there is any sort of pause in the import of Arctic air from Canada to the USA. (On the other hand, this storm will increase the flow from Easternmost Siberia across the Bering Strait to Alaska, so that may make up for the loss of Canadian imports. It may also speed up the refreeze of Bering Strait, which is behind schedule, (but has been catching up.)

Meanwhile the Barents Sea remains wide open. It can’t refreeze if air temperatures remain often near, and even above, freezing.  Without ice the water cannot stratify into layers determined by salinity and temperature, and (in my theory,) is mixed deeply. There is no “lens of fresh water” atop of “warmer, saltier water” in this part of the Arctic Sea.  And, because this is a major entrance region, I imagine it effects the water under the protective ice as well.

LOCAL VIEW  —Aurrgh!!! Eleven storms attacking!!!

I don’t know the logic behind the drawing of this map, but I count eleven lows on the front between Maine and Texas.  I can’t name that many.  There are two many to name them after the seven dwarfs in “Snow White,” and too few to name them after the thirteen dwarfs in the “Hobbit.” (Click to enlarge.)

A battle 3 satsfc (3)A battle 3 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It is important I come up with some names, for that Bermuda High to the southeast is pumping some really warm and moist air up past us into the North Atlantic, and some of the tiny storms passing by on this slowly sagging front will be monsters when they pass south of Greenland.

I’ll call the leader “Fili,” and the one over the Great Lakes “Kili,” in honor of the Tolkien movie I hope to see with my sons this weekend. Fili actually dragged the front down enough to give us clearing at cunset, and a brief time in the evening when temperatures dropped from yesterday’s high of 46 (with rain showers) to 29. (See the snow not far to our north on radar.)  However by dawn Kili had brought the mild air back and it was up to 36.  (44 in Boston and 50 in NYC.)  Right now the warm air is winning, and that is fine with me, as I’m behind in all sorts of Christmas stuff, such as learning my music for choir and shopping.  I don’t need any travel headaches. However the front will eventually sag south, and a ripple could run up the front when it is out to sea, giving us snow on Chriistmas Eve.

I’ll dub that low over Hudson Bay “Grinch.”  Behind its trailing cold front is some truly nasty Arctic air, compliments of the cross polar flow.  The air over the southeast USA contains some record setting warmth.  There could be some interesting weather after Christmas, if the two get together.

Now I need to get hustling.


Our site reported in this morning at 72.50 N, 16.82 W, with temperatures still mild at -1.26 C. Southward progress has resumed, but we still are crunching west impressively. Total movement has been southwest  15.7 miles.


UK Met Dec 21 10898694

Tipzipclipzip owns the Atlantic. No day to be rowing out to an oil rig in the North Sea. It looks like the top of the stubborn high pressure over Europe has been flattened, and Scandinavia is getting North Atlantic air rather than stuff from the Azores.

That little low did get over the Atlas Mountains into the Sahara, (mophistication?) but it looks like it left its fronts behind.

Now to see if the high pressure can rebuild down over Spain and fight back.  If the Icelandic Low stays over Iceland the flow from the Azores could try to return, and keep heating bills low for Europeans.

Those who thirst for snows should not despair, as the second half of the winter should see a quite different pattern develop. Be patient, and think of the current mildness as a Christmas present for the elderly.

DECEMBER 21  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—  Atlantic super storms

DMI Dec 21B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 21B temp_latest.big (1)

The Snout of Igor, assisted by Rocky northeast of Greenland, is continuing to export air from Siberia and import it into Canada, which is not all that promising, in terms of the USA further south staying warm. The hope of warmth-lovers in the USA would be for very strong westerlies to whisk that cold air into the Atlantic and over towards Europe, feeding and perpetuating a strong Icelandic low and strong Azores high.  In the short term this is happening, however it does not seem like a very stable pattern.  It is more like a wobbling top, about to fall and spin into a new pattern.

Tipzipclipzip continues to whirl over Iceland, pumping lots of warm air and moisture up towards the arctic on its east, south-wind side, however the clash of that warmth with the edge of the ice and colder air seems to be crating a isobaric extension of low pressure towards Barents Sea, which needs to be watched.  However the real news is the warmth and juicy air pouring up the east coast of the USA towards the waters south of Tipzipclipzip. This “gasoline” is causing some models to create storms even bigger than Tipzipclipzip, as soon as Christmas eve.

A LOOK AT THE UK MET   (Scotland, watch out!)

UK Met Dec 21B 10911445

This map is not all that different from this morning, with Tipzipclipzip apinning his wheels over Iceland, and not-all-that-warm winds roaring north over the British Isle and southern Scandinavia.  However that bit of a warm front poking onto the map from the lower left is the start of a possible huge storm, “Fili.”

(Also notice there actually is a front on the Desert side of the Atlas Mountains.  While it might not be raining in the Sahara, it is likely those mostly-dry riverbeds on the east side of the Atlas Mountains actually have some water running in them, down towards the parched desert.)

However the real news is Fili, a storm that doesn’t really even exist on this map. But check out this Ryan Maue WeatherBELL GFS map for next Tuesday: (Double click map for full size.)

 UK Met Dec 21B gfs_ptype_slp_eur_15

Yowza!  That’s a 931 mb storm!  If this solution has any basis in reality, places that get a green Christmas will get a wind to remember, and it looks like there is even a chance of snow in Scotland, Wales, southern Norway, and the Alps.

It might be wise to buy some tinned food and candles, to salvage some sort of Christmas dinner. The Moms won’t be happy if this storm materializes, but I imagine there are some little boys who will be overjoyed to have the lights go out, and have the wind howl, and have the sleet pepper the window panes.  Little boys have this bizarre belief we grown-ups can handle this stuff.

FORKARMA DATA  —Across 17 degrees longitude—

Our first report for December 22 is already in, and we are at 72.40 N, 17.09 W, with our temperature reaining mild, at -1.18 C.  We have moved 8.94 miles southwest since the last report.

We are at the fringes of the big North Atlantic storms, which seem to be compressing the ice against the coast of Greenland, more than dispersing and melting it.

LOCAL VIEW  —Enjoying the warmer side of things—

I’m back from a very nice evening watching “The Hobbit” with three sons and a grandson. (A fun film, though I’m sure Tolkien is rolling in his grave.) We drove down to a theater in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, and I was surprised to see temperatures drop as we descended from our hills. I guess some cold air still clings to the low places. When we left the movie in the dark the temperature was 36, but as we climbed and headed north temperatures rose back up to 44, long after dark.  However not far to our north they are dealing with the botheration of snow, which is nothing I want to deal with when driving to a movie.

A battle 4 satsfc (3)A battle 4 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It is somewhat odd, exiting a movie theater on a mild December night, to have the awareness that the mild air around you could be part of a 931 mb storm northwest of Scotland on Christmas Eve.  I was going to mention it, but it seemed too odd to bring up, so I buttoned my lip. The correct thing was to discuss elves, dwarfs, orcs, and other realities such as hobbits and Middle Earth.

The low departing Nova Scotia on the above map is “Fili,” which has a lot of work to do, to drop from a 1009 mb low to a 931 mb super-gale.  The low over me on the map isn’t worth a name, though it might tug the cold front south of us as it vanishes into Fili. The complex system of three lows down towards Arkansas is “Kili,” which I suspect may cause us some grief on Christmas Eve.  If it doesn’t, than the trailing low way down south of Texas, “Zili.” (as it is the end of the alphabet soup of lows along this front on recent maps,) could be the Christmas eve botheration.

What I call a botheration, at age sixty, was sheer joy when I was thirteen.  Back in 1966 I left the movies on a mild evening like tonight’s, utterly discouraged because it seemed fairly certain there would be no snow for Christmas.  However a weak feature turned into a enlarged thunder-shower cloud on Christmas Eve, and is remembered in local lore as “The Donner and Blitzen Storm.”

You could make a saying, much like, “One man’s trash is another man’s treasure,”  out of men’s differing opinions about the value of snow.  Perhaps: “An old man’s bother’s a young boy’s bliss.”


DMI Dec 22 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 22 temp_latest.big (1)

Look at that warmth flooding up the coast of Norway and on to the Pole!  Tipzipclipzip remains huge over Iceland, Rockyson now a Polar storm pouring cold air down to Canada, and a new low over in the Bering Strait.  (Busy morning, but I hope to comment in the afternoon.)

FORKARMA DATA  —mild conditions continue—

Our second December 22 report places our site at 72.40 N, 17.09 W, with temperatures nearly up to freezing at -0.89 C. We have moved 13.23 miles south-southeast.


UK Met Dec 22 10924435

(Will comment later)

LOCAL VIEW   —A choired taste—

A battle 5 satsfc (3)A battle 5 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

The front is right on us, but it is still dry and not too cold.  I’m singing in a Christmas Cantata in an hour and have reached my typical, “Why did I ever agree to do this?” state of mind.

(I’ll post after the disaster is done with.)

LOCAL VIEW   —Survived near-disaster; back to normal—

I’ll skip the details of my debacle .  Singing before 120 people is rough on me. I have learned not to wince and make faces when I hit a note wrong, as most of the audience apparently can’t tell the difference unless you give them a hint, however I am my own worst critic. In any case, it is over for another year, and in the end all I really suffered was exhaustion.

Cold and foggy day. I went home and took a nap, and by the time I woke and had a coffee my middle son was back from Mount Monadnock, having climbed it like I climb a small hill. He said a southwest wind was howling at the top, and he could barely stand. That was up at 3165 feet, and he said it was quite mild; around fifty degrees.  Our altitude here is roughly 1000 feet, and there was a dead calm, dense fog, and it was thirty-five degrees.

That gives you an idea of why computer models, even using the biggest computers in the world, can’t capture the finer details and blow forecasts.  They need a separate box for each level of the atmosphere. In the winter the cold air is forever sneaking beneath their radar.

A battle 6 satsfc (3)A battle 6 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

The map shows the front is still right over us, though the precipitation has behaved as if the front has moved south. At 1000 feet the cold air has moved south of here, and we are down near freezing. Fili os off the map, Kili is just to our west, and Zili is dawdling down at the bottom of the front, perhaps waiting for help from the northern branch feature coming down through Montana.

It seems amazing to me such contrasts in air masses haven’t bred a big storm, but perhaps they are saving all up for when they get into the North Atlantic and approaching Scotland.


The following three maps are from GFS data, and made by Dr. Ryan Maue over at WeatherBELL. They show the predicted  weather in the North Atlantic in 42 hours, 72 hours, and 114 hours.  The first shows Fili maxing out with a central pressure of 929 mb north of Scotland. Kili is a weak 1006 mb low south of Newfoundland.  The next map shows Fili weakening slightly as it moves away towards Norway, but Kili strengthening as it charges across the Atlantic.  The third map shows Kili is now the monster gale, with pressure down to 937 mb as it crosses Northern Ireland. (Click Maue maps a second time to achieve greatest enlargement.)

42 hours  Fili 42 hour gfs_mslp_uv10m_natl_15

72 hours  Fili 72 hour gfs_mslp_uv10m_natl_25

114 hoursFili 114 hour gfs_mslp_uv10m_natl_39

Hang on to your Tam o’ Shanters.


What goes up must come down, and in terms of Greenland this meant that all the air rushing north on the eastern side meant air rushed south on the western side.  This has brought very cold air over Baffin Bay, freezing it from a below-average extent to an above average extent, and also creating such a southward shove that all the ice began grinding and shifting to the south.  What this ten did is create some open water in the northernmost part of the bay, which experiences some of the coldest temperatures.  (I wonder if that warm water, and its updraft, helped the re-genesis of Rockyson at all.) (Click maps to expand images.)

Baffin crack arcticicespddrfnowcastBaffin crack CMMBCTCA

This incredible shift of umpteen million tons of ice set one of my favorite wandering buoys, Buoy 2013C: , back into motion again.  This buoy already went right off the edge of his original map, forcing the hard workers behind the scenes to use a larger map.  Now I am starting to wonder if he’ll wander off the edge of this map as well. (Double click for fullest enlargement.)

Baffin crack 2013C_track

If any reader still entertains the illusion that arctic ice is stationary, this buoy ought change their mind.  Even when it is thirty-below, that stuff moves. The word “frozen” needs to be redefined.

DECEMBER 22  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—  The lopsided Pole

DMI Dec 22B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 22B temp_latest.big (1)

Although Tipzipclipzip remains the biggest feature on the map, we are aware of Fili and Kili coming along his underside to add to the ruckus this week. They will be further south, and I’ll be carefully observing the winds on their east and north side, to see if the injection of Atlantic air up to the Pole continues.

This injection seems remarkable, a sort of “Snout of Atlantis” to rival the “Snout of Igor ” protruding from Siberia.  Perhaps it is only natural that, with so much air exported into Canada, the Pole needs to import air, but it doesn’t really fit the model in my skull, which sees the import of air at the Pole descending from aloft, due the uplift of air in storms around the edges. This winter is rumpling up some of my preconceptions and tossing them into the trash.

  Rockyson continues to be an interesting feature, still complimenting the cross-polar-flow, but starting to kink the flow a little.  If it continues on to Bering Strait it may kink the flow like an impish child kinking your garden hose when you are trying to water the petunias. Then we may get a break in the imported Siberia that is headed to the USA, and get another warm five days like we’ve just had.

One other thing I’ve been watching is what happens to the floods of warm air that, rather than surging up to the Pole, surge over the Steppes and Siberian tundra.  A very large flood headed east, and gave them what must be delightfilly balmy winds to them, though temperatures were still above freezing.  However the same thing happened to that air that happens over the Pole. Day by day the heat is lost and day by day the air gets colder, until the “mild” air is nearly as cold as the air it replaces.  The current temperature map shows little sign of the “balmy” air that moved into central Siberia, just an island of less-cold, with “warm” temperatures as high as 15 Fahrenheit. (-9 Celsius.) (A Maue-WeatherBELL map; double click to fully enlarge.)

DMI Dec 22B gfs_t2m_asia_1

It is thought-provoking to simply sit and observe how efficiently these shortest-of-days use up last summer’s warmth.  Which leads me to my next post:


I found this article by Willis Eschenbach to be very illuminating, when it comes to understanding the way our planet exports heat from the tropics to the Arctic.

It is quite interesting to think of the movement of heat as an “engine,” with clouds a primary “throttle.”  I think I am going to re-read the article a couple more times, and to just allow the idea to jell a bit.  However I’m already toying with an idea of ocean currents and sea-ice being a “governor” on the “throttle” of the clouds.

FORKARMA DATA  —Westward Ho!—

Even though it is only eight in the evening here, we already have tomorrow’s data from the Army site.  Our buoy is at 72.16 N, 18.11 W, and have moved 27.22 miles west-southwest.

Even though the lines of longitude are closer together up towards the Pole, I find it surprising we have moved a full degree of longitude west since our last report. If we had stayed at the same latitude, our movement west would have been 21.68 miles. Considering the ice is fairly well compressed to begin with, I imagine the ice must be piling up into pressure ridges and becoming thicker. For the moment these piles likely are a sort of loose amalgamation of chunks, because temperatures remain high, at -1.13 C. With the freezing point of salt water lower, at around -1.7 to 1.9 depending on how brackish the melting of ice makes the water, the ice might even be a bit slushy, and more able to pack and stick, like a boy’s well-packed snowball.  Then, when temperatures drop again to minus-twenty and below, these pressure ridges could freeze up into sizable icebergs.

Some argue that all sizable icebergs are calved from glaciers, and the sea-ice can’t create anything large, however I wonder about that idea.


DMI Dec 23 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 23 temp_latest.big (1)

(Left shopping until last minute as usual.  Few comments today. Just maps.)


UK Met Dec 23 10952784


A battle 7 satsfc (3)A battle 7 rad_ne_640x480 (1)


A battle 8 satsfc (3)A battle 8 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Freezing rain and then cold rain.  Precipitation constantly sliding up from the south, with the rain-snow line between ten and thirty miles north all day.  The freezing rain came down past us right to the edge of Boston for a bit, and then faded back north. We ducked a bullet, as people not all that far north had a mess to clean up.  I couldn’t deal with that, as I had Christmas shopping to do. (People give me indulgent glances of pity when I tell them I’m just starting, but I really like how empty the stores are.  I get two or three clerks fussing over me at the same time, especially when I tell them I’m looking for weird, zany, humorous things to stuff my wife’s stocking with. And I did get it all done, except for the wrapping.)

You can see Filli blew up, even though it is off the map, in the form of the isobars in the upper right corner.  Killi is mostly slipping by my part of the planet, on its way to make a second major storm in Europe right after Filli fades north.  A final low on the front, “Zilli,” may give us a bit of snow tomorrow, which would be very Christmasy. However for the mist part this sequence of frontal lows has been a break from a winter that looks like it going to come back with a vengeance.  That weak front northwest of us is just a hint of the return of truly arctic air.

 Drove along the banks of the Contookett River both yesterday and today, and was surprised by how ice-bound it is, despite the recent warmth and rising waters due to snow-melt.  I’ve seen entire winters pass where it never is ice-bound, and this year it was icebound before winter officially started, after the minus-fifteen temperatures in the valley last week. (-26 Celsius.)  It seems a sign that, although it was a yo-yo autumn, with both cold blasts and warm-ups, the cold had the upper hand.

Now we face the grim truth of the old couplet, “When the days begin to lengthen then the cold begins to strengthen.”  On average our coldest day is around January 19, the upper atmosphere reaches its coldest around February 1, and we don’t get back to the “mildness” of the first day of winter until mid February.

On February 15th the old timers used to say, “Winter’s back is broken,” and used that mark on the calendar as the day to start tapping the maples.  To me it seems a long, long way away.



UK Met Dec 23B 10964905

Although Tipzipclipzip looks weaker, it still has a central pressure of 967 mb. It shows you how deep the general area over the entire North Atlantic is. The trailing occlusion back to a “small” low at the Cape Farewell tip of Greenland may be what is left of Grinch. All this disorginized energy will likely be sucked into Filli as Filli explodes.  (Looks like a good Christmas to visit Italy.)

Here is a more recent GFS “intial” model map, for 0000z, (the 24th in Europe, though it is still the 23rd here.) Looks like a fairly wild Christmas Eve Day. (A Maue Map, so double click to fully enlarge.)

Filli Dec 24 0000 gfs_mslp_uv10m_eur_1


DMI Dec 23B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 23B temp_latest.big (1)

Fili is off this map, but the general low pressure of the North Atlantic is obvious. Our Forkarma is getting blasted southwards., and the baby ice at the edge of the Barent Sea is getting howled westward.  The flow of Atlantic air to the Pole os being cut off by a short-version cross-polar-flow across the tip of the North Atlantic. For the time being the Siberian east winds are above Europe, however should this flow start to slump southeast, northwest parts of Europe could start to feel the chill of Morder, creeping in from the East.

On the other side of the Pole Rockyson is crimping the flow from Siberia to Canada, and even exporting some minus-thirty-five air from northernmost Canada back over the Pole.  However this may just circle around and come back to Canada.  Nothing seems to head back to Siberia these days.

FORKARMA DATA   —Colder winds—

The second report for December 23 has our site at 72.02 N, 18.48 W,  12.51 miles southwest of where it lay earlier today.  Winds have shifted more to the north, dropping Temperatures to -4.51 C.  The seawater is starting to freeze again.

Although the ice does not extend as far off the coast of Greenland, it is far more piled up, with fewer leads and more pressure ridges.  This is tempting me to post some thoughts about how wind increases the thickness of ice.


Below are two extent maps, the one on the left from December 5 and the one on the right from today. It looks like the ice that was nearly touching Iceland has been reduced back towards Greenland.

Extent Dec 5 arcticicennowcast (1)Extent Dec 22 arcticicennowcast (1)

While, in the strict sense of the word, extent in that local has been reduced, very little ice has been melted by the strong east winds, and the volume of the ice likely remains likely the same.  The ice is perhaps piled up and is thicker.  To see this we consult the Navy “Thickness” map.

Thickness Dec 23 arcticictnowcast

(Click to enlarge.) What this map shows us is that the ice along the edge of Greenland is not the lilac hue of ‘baby ice” that has grown this autumn and is 1-2 feet thick, but rather is the light blue of ice 6-7 feet thick. It is next to impossible for ice to freeze so thick in an area that was ice free last September. Most likely this ice has passed through Fram Strait and then gone grinding southwards down the coast, and has been especially piled up by recent storms.

This thickness map also hints that the cross-polar-flow is balking the clockwise rotation of the Beaufort Gyre, and even backing multi-year-ice (yellow and red) down towards the western approaches of the Northwest Passage. If that ice grounds against the arctic coast, and isn’t blown back northwest, it will discourage attempts at the Northwest passage next summer, for that ice is nine feet thick.

(The backwards motion of the Beaufort Gyre can be seen if you study the motion of the various buoys in that gyre. For example, the drift map of Buoy 2013F:  shows that it was tracking a clockwise arc,  but then went into reverse when the cross-polar Siberia-to-Canada winds became more common:

Buoy 2013F_track

These abrupt shifts of what amounts to kilotons and megatons of ice has got to amount to collisions and pole-ups, especially when you consider the wind shifts abruptly, and at different speeds over different parts of the ice.  The problem is that rather than forming a single massive mountain range that the satellite could spot, an average pressure ridge is thinner than a hair, from the perspective of outer space. They just don’t show up on satellite thickness maps.  Therefore I find my eyebrow raising in surprise, for you can see thin lines of thicker ice on the Siberian coast, between 80 and 120 degrees east. They are blue lines in the lilac of “baby ice.” They average out as unspectacular rises of a foot or less, (especially when you consider 9/10 of an iceberg is under water,) however I imagine they are higher at the center of their “mountain-range.” Actually we can’t tell, with views from a distant eye-in-the-sky. However what impresses me is that these pressure ridges must be very wide to show up on such a map.

It tends to suggest the storms we have seen this year are piling up the ice and making it thicker, at least in certain places.


DMI Dec 24 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 24 temp_latest.big (1)

Thar she blows! (Or he.) Kili is at the very bottom of the map, a truely impressive storm, and likely at maximum strength.  It is interesting that most of the flow across the top is west to east, and the injection of Atlantic air to the Pole is being cut off.  An interesting low has slipped away from the North Atlantic maelstrom to the top of Finland, and will likely start to tap into the pool of deep cold over the Kara Sea and transport it back towards Svalbard, resuming the freeze of the northern edge of the Barents Sea, which retreated in the face of the “Snout of Atlantis.” Further west on the Siberian coast the Snout of Igor has also been flattened, as Rockyson creates a more zonal look to the polar circulation.  Likely the DMI temperature-north-of-80-degrees-latitude graph will show a dip, as the air over the Pole is stirred and mixed by Rockyson.  That air has been well above normal as the cold was exported to Canada and warm air was imported from the Atlantic.  (Click graph to enlarge.)

DMI Dec 24 meanT_2013 (1)

This graph is quite different from our severe winter of 1976-1977. During that winter December saw some below-normal cold build up over the Pole, as the air that chilled the eastern USA came straight from Siberia through a short-version cross-polar-flow to Alaska, and only involved the Arctic Sea south of 80 degrees over towards Bering Strait.  In January the entire Pole unloaded over the USA, and temperatures north of 80 degrees rose above normal.

It looks like a similar situation may develop soon, and the circular flow around Rockyson will be short-lived.  I’ll be watching to see if the discharge is less cold than 1976-1977, because the cold air didn’t build up over the Pole so long.  I’ll also be watching to see if all the cold dumps down into North America, or if the flow develops a fork and also freezes Europe.


(click map to enlarge)

UK Met Dec 24 10978091

Whew! It looks a bit breezy in jolly old England.  A good day for flying concrete kites?  Maybe Anthony will send us a report.

I think I’ll call that low north of Finland “Scape,” as it seems to be the only low that has escaped being little more than a spoke in the wheel of Fili.

Kili is barely visible to the lower left, just entering the scene.

Fili’s cold front may drive across Spain and form a secondary storm in the Mediterranean.

In Great Britain “Boxing Day” may be but a brief break before Kili storms in.

FORKARMA DATA  —south of 72 degrees north latitude—

Our site has sped on to 71.27 N, 19.07 W  covering 35.29 miles, which puts to rest my thoughts that the ice might be getting glued to the coast of Greenland.  Temperatures have dropped a little more to -6.61 C.

LOCAL VIEW  —Kili moves off, Zili looks weak, Chinook looks suspicious—

A battle 9 satsfc (3)

I’ll likely be consumed by Christmas, and updates may be rare for a while. However curiosity will likely have me sneaking peaks at Fili and Kili, and also watching the Chinook pushing into the Canadian Rockies.  During a past winter I saw such Chinooks become the norm, until our winds were astonishingly mild from the northwest, in the middle of January.  With Rockyson interrupting the cross-polar-flow,  perhaps we’ll get a mid-winter break.

If I’m sneaking peeks at maps I’ll post them, but doubt I’ll comment much.


DMI Dec 24B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 24B temp_latest.big (1)

Fili is quite the storm. Let’s check the UK Met map.


UK Met Dec 24B 10991812

Yowza!  A 927 mb storm.  Quite the Christmas eve.

When I attended Dunrobin School in Scotland the other boys told me that the year before the winds were so strong that, when they stood at the base of great trees, they were lifted up and down by the roots, as the roots nearly (but never quite) were ripped from the earth. I thought they were putting me on.  But I’ll bet that’s happening in parts of Scotland tonight.

LOCAL VIEW  —A “vort max” misses us, and fails to link up with storm—

On the weather map you can see “Zilli” passing weakly off shore, as on the radar you can see the cluster of snow showers heading towards New York City, a so-called “vort max” which was a case of too-little-too-late, and failed to stir up a snow on the east coast on Christmas Eve.

A battle 10 satsfc (3)A battle 10 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Even though we didn’t get snow here, I imagine some children to our south were pleased as that “vort max” passed over. They’d seen all their snow melt during recent warmth, and expected a green Christmas, but suddenly saw it snow.

This reminds me of a similar situation back during one of the most miserable times in my boyhood, back in 1966.  My parents had separated, but divorce was rare back then, and very difficult even when both parties wanted it.  My father didn’t want it, but had vanished from the household and was fighting to save his marriage from afar, as my mother fought for freedom.  My mother felt I ought be protected from the details of their dispute, but I found it a sort of hell to have my father vanish, and have no explanation given.  This silence concerning the truth had been going on for a year and a half, and had made me a crazy boy,  and now I was thirteen and just starting to go crazy with hormones. The misery I felt peaked during holidays, because holidays reminded me of better days, back when we were a functioning family, and during the dark days of December 1966 I found myself in a sort of private war.  It was invisible to others, but very real to me.

We had gone from being very rich to abrupt poverty, (by the standards of a wealthy suburb,) and I had no money, but had decided I would fight back and give even though I was broke.  I struggled with hand-made presents for people, though my carpentry skills were undeveloped and I had no father to instruct me.  My fingers were bleeding and bandaged from my blunders.

One project had me on the verge of tears and rage.  I was endeavoring to make a pair of tiny hearts, as earrings for my mother, out of red cedar wood, but such wood splits very easily, and over and over, just when a small heart was nearly done, it would split in two and I’d have to start over. I only finished on the afternoon of Christmas Eve, and trudged off to a gift shop a mile away to buy the metal fasteners that would turn the wood hearts to earrings.

For several days we’d been in a mild flow from the south, and the snowless landscape was grey under a dull sky.  Life seemed very unfair to me.  Other boys seven hundred miles to the west had a white Christmas, as a modest low swung north to the Great Lakes, but we were on the warm side and the weathermen on all three major Boston channels had said there was no chance of a white Christmas for Boston.  The snowlessness  seemed like insult heaped onto injury to me, and while I didn’t exactly give God a tongue lashing, I was extremely pessimistic about good deeds ever gaining me any sort of reward.

However my irascible temper lashed out against the darkness by giving gifts, which must have won me a point or two upstairs, because all of a sudden nice things happened to me. When I walked into the gift shop and timidly asked for fasteners, my pout and bandaged fingers must have touched the lady who ran the shop, because she took me under her wing and proceeded to not only sell me two fasteners, but to take me to the back of her shop, (where she repaired jewelry and watches,) and showed me how to glue the fasteners to the wooden hearts, and then got me a tiny box with a cotton square on the bottom to hold my earrings, and even wrapped it for me. I walked out of there in a much better mood, with the bells on the door jingling behind me, and then stopped in my tracks.  Big, fat snowflakes were lazily drifting down from the grey sky.

As I walked home through the snow it seemed absolutely everyone was smiling. The snow was lazy and seemed harmless, but then it grew more steady and swirled, and when I arrived home my poor mother was going through one of her attacks of worry, as my older brothers had gone Christmas shopping in her car. Fortunately I only had to be a thirteen year old male soothing a 42 year old woman for a short while, before my brothers appeared through the snow with her car un-dented, and all was well.

We headed off to Christmas Carols outside a church a half mile away, and for some reason, perhaps due to the snow, rather than the usual thirty people showing up a hundred-twenty-five showed up to sing in the increasingly heavy snow.  Just as we finished there was a flash of lightning, and long, deep, horizon-to-horizon roll of thunder.

As I turned to walk home, with the thunder still rolling,  a thirteen-year-girl I had no chance of dating, (as I was not only thirteen and broke, but a foot shorter than she was,) glanced my way with her face awed by the thunder, and then smiled an abrupt smile that just about knocked me flat on my back in the snow.  And at that point I decided miracles actually could happen, and life might not be so bad, after all.

There was more lightning, and we had around seven inches of snow before it tapered off at midnight. The weathermen were embarrassed, but did give the freak event a name. It was dubbed “The Donner and Blitzen Storm.”  Likely it was a “vort max” that “phased” with a “frontal low,” but, as it wasn’t a huge blizzard and set no records, record books don’t mention it much.  However guys and gals over sixty, who lived between Portland Maine and Philadelphia back in 1966, all seem to remember it.  It was a Christmas miracle,  private and personal, but given to many.



DMI Dec 25 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 25 temp_latest.big (1)

The massive North Atlantic circulation of Filli is slamming the door of Atlantic air entering the Arctic.  A strong east wind now blows across the entrance.


UK Mey Dec 25 11005367


Our site is at 70.59 N, 19.54 W, which is 48.33 miles further to the south-southwest.  Our temperature is at -8.58 C.

Around 70 degrees latitude the east coast of Greenland falls away to the west, and there is more leeway for westward motion.


I’m just blinking a bit between a quiet doze and a good night’s sleep.  The day here was very cold, but the house was warm. I enjoyed a taste of the good life, and awoke to the fact I’ve been living the good life for years without being fully aware of it.

A foolish part of my psyche was sold on the idea that the good life involves something called “financial security.”  That is what Scrooge had. I’ve had something better: A loving wife and five fascinating children who have survived and become fascinating adults.

For a Christmas present my younger daughter’s boyfriend took all our old, dusty, obsolete VCR tapes and put them on modern discs, and we watched some video from 1993. (Twenty years……and how the time slips like water from a swimmer’s fingertips.) How we did laugh!

Some say we forget the pains and view the past through rose-tinted glasses, but I seemingly am an exception to that rule. I remember the pains, the struggles, the hard work.  The old video reminded me of a whole different side, and of much I’d forgotten.

I’d forgotten the beauty.  It was good to be reminded.

A battle 11 satsfc (3)A battle 11 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

The map shows that the front that begat Filli, Killi and Zilli has settled way down to Florida, and the southern branch moisture gathering in the Gulf of Mexico in that front’s wake is too far from the northern branch to “phase,” as a northern branch feature I’ll call “Boxer” (for Boxing Day) comes swinging down from the northwest.  We’ll get a little snow, but also a break from the very cold air over us today.  That frigid air is lifting away with the high to our northeast.  More bitter blasts may come behind Boxer, but we’ll spend a brief spell in the warm sector between arctic highs, and I’m not in the mood to want more.  Where a Scrooge hungers for “financial security,” and is unhappy, I’ll hopefully show I’ve learned my lesson, and be glad for the gift I’m given.

In the end, all our efforts amount to a long stroll through cold rains and warm sunshine; times where one plus one are by no account two, but rather zero, (if your math’s like mine.) (Let Scrooge amass his strange security where numbers grow bigger, and laughter less.)

Our laughter has grown, and it seems to me we’ve laughed at our loss, and grief, and distress of the sort Scrooge fears most. We have thrived through what Scrooge would call, “Worst case scenarios.”

It wasn’t so bad, for what you must do you manage to do. If you laugh at woes you learn life’s at it’s best, lived with zeroes:  (The real wages of children and heroes.)

Christmas isn’t over, for it is the beginning of days when the darkness is increasingly defeated by light.


DMI Dec 26 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 26 temp_latest.big (1)

While Fili is still a big deal in the North Atlantic, he has seemingly decided not to waste his time shooting wild air at the North Pole, perhaps because Santa is finished his work and there is no glory to be gained by bothering him. Without the warm injections the Pole is rapidly cooling, and the isotherms becoming more blue.  Also Rockyson has weakened, and is no longer crimping the cross-polar-flow. (Sigh)  It looks like more imports of Siberian air heading my way, down here in the east of the USA.


UK Met Dec 26 11031312 

Filli moving out, Killi moving in.  Secondary south of France.  (Is this a hint of a changing pattern? Lows moving straight across the Atlantic and then across the Mediterranean, (rather than owning the North Atlantic like Tipzipclipzip and Filli and perhaps Killi,)  can be a sign a negative AO and NAO is starting to set in, which leads to this pattern:

A A Screen shot 2013_05_19 at 10_33_10 PM(1)


A battle 12 satsfc (3)A battle 12 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

A battle 13 satsfc (3)A battle 13 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

A battle 14 satsfc (3)A battle 14 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Boxer moved over today, with about an inch and a half of fluffy snow.  I worked at getting a second-hand car ready for my daughter. (It is sort of a Christmas present that wasn’t ready in time.) However mostly I took it easy and recovered from Christmas.  (If Christmas isn’t something you need to recover from, you haven’t been celebrating properly.)

The maps show Boxer bumping the arctic cold high-pressure away to the northeast, and nothing much coming down the chute from the arctic in his wake. Not that the chute doesn’t still exist, but it is in a sort of state of abeyance, and allowing Pacific air to nudge over the Canadian Rockies and give Chinook conditions to places like Calgary. (See Stewart Pid’s reports in our “comments section.”)

However that Chinook isn’t flooding east to Hudson’s Bay, and the “chute” is still bringing blobs from the Snout of Igor south, though they are not as strong, perhaps due to the crimp “Rockyson” put in the cross-polar-flow.  We won’t get a full fledged break from winter, but I will enjoy the break we do get (even if it involves cleaning up today’s inch and a half of snow,) because there are signs winter will come back with a vengeance next week.

(By the way, the rhymes in yesterday’s “hidden sonnet” were: “Amount-to, sunshine, account-two, mine, security, less, me, distress, through, scenarios, do, woes, zeroes, and heroes.”) (Winners will receive an all expense paid view of the sky outside their own front doors.)


Our site has progressed to  70.26 N, 19.77 W, with air temperatures slightly lower at -9.39 C. We have moved 23.49 miles in what I assume is twelve hours (as the site has no time stamps.)


DMI Dec 26B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 26B temp_latest.big (1)

Filli is weakening as Killi approaches and strengthens. An odd blob sits atop Norway.  I assume that is low pressure attempting to escape the all-gobbling nature of the current Icelandic Low, and therefore that blob is Scape2. (The original Scape has crossed the Kara Sea, and is weak.)  Filli may become a Scape3, or may be gobbled by Filli.  An interesting questioning is occurring among models and meteorologist concerning the longevity of this Icelandic Low.  Some say the Icelandic Low will persist, and “Killi,” and perhaps the following “Boxer” will refuel the low and cause it to persist, but others say we will see a new pattern kick in. Stay tuned!

Rockyson has all but faded, and a weak cross-polar flow resumed, but the winds over the Pole are mostly sluggish, and the cold is building in that relative calm.


(click to enlarge)

UK Met Sec 26B 11044034

Mostly I’m posting this map for the record, so we can refer back to it.

It is an odd map, and bound to mess with your mind, for it shows traits inbdicative of two opposite patterns. The low beside Italy is indicative of storms through the Mediterranean, and one pattern, while the lows around Iceland are indicative of another pattern. I nrefuse to take sides, and merely observe.

For the moment the single round Icelandic low is gone, and instead we have an elongated string of lows. Both Filli and Killi have developed a companion low to their north.  Rather than a cicular Icelandic low we have a stretched-out noodle.


Our site has rounded the eastern cape of Greenland and now faces clear sailing to the southwest. Our “tomorrow” report places us at 69.95 N, 20.11 W, which means we have moved 22.94 miles since our last report. Temperatures are a little warmer, at -7.68 C.

DECEMBER 27  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  Growingly cold Pole

DMI Dec 27 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 27 temp_latest.big (1)

The Atlantic import of air to the Pole has now been cut off for several days by the stretched-out easterly flow over the strung out storms.  In order to enter the arctic the air must cross a long inland stretch of western Siberia, and I surmise such a jouney woukd cool it considerably.

Also it is interesting that the demise of Rockyson left a cold area north of Alaska. I’ve noticed that in the summer, when a polar storm fades away. I wonder if the uplift gives way to a sort of collapse, bringing cold air down.

UK MET 0000Z MAP   —Killi clobbers Ireland—

UK Met Dec 27 11056102

Killi isn’t quite as strong as Filli was, but a 944 mb low is still impressive. Although the flow over Europe is still from the south, the stubborn high-pressure has been displaced east to the Steppes of Russia.


Our site has moved to 69.61 N, 20.45 W, which is 24.94 miles south-southwest of our last report. Temperature was  -8.30 C, which was a little colder.

I checked in at our companion buoy and discovered it was up at 73.677°N, 17.989°W, which puts it 287 miles to our north-northeast. Last summer they were less than a hundred miles apart. One reason the ice has packed in closer to the Greenland coast and extends less towards Iceland is that the ice to the south has drifted faster and “made room.”


DMI Dec 27B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 27B temp_latest.big (1)

Filli has weakened, and now Killi appears at the very bottom as the big, North Atlantic storm.  The general trough of low pressure extends (weakening) all the way to southeast of the Kara Sea, and north of it cold,east winds seal off the Arctic from Atlantic imports. The warmth off the east coast of Norway is Atlantic, but the apparent warmth in the Barents Sea is due to the water being open and warming the air above it at the rwo meter level.

It seems much of the air lifted by Rockyson is now descending and creating high pressure right where you’d expect Rockyson’s remnants to be.  (A weak reflection of Rockyson was pressed back east by the building high pressure.) At the very least, such descending air is not weakening, and is likely contributing, a Snout-of-Igoe blob moving across to Canada.  I would hazard a guess that this does not bode well for North America remaining warm, or the current Chinooks continueing east of the Canadian Rockies.

For some reason the DMI temperature-north-of eighty-degrees graph is not updating. If it was I think it would show a plunbge in temperatures up there.  Cold is building.  If it would stay up there in a zonal pattern we could breathe a sigh of relkief, however the pattern does not look likely to be zonal, and arctic outbreaks are likely, somewhere, with such a supply of amunition built up over the Pole.  However it is winter, after all.

FORKARMA DATA  —The tomorrow report—

Latest data reports we are at 69.39 N, 20.75 W,  which is 16.9 miles south-southeast of our last report. Temperatures have risen to -6.07 C.  The fact our speed is slowing may indicate winds are dying as Killi moves away.


UK Met Dec 27B 11068648

Killi is starting to weaken, though still intence, especially in the North Sea east of Scotland.  Filli is a weak extention to its north, however Filli’s cold front has brewed up Fillison east of Italy, moving into Greece.  (This is more interesting in the upper air map.)  On the far side of the Atlantic Boxer is just appearing.

It will be interesting to watch Boxer’s path, to see if it seems further south, and less inclined to simply stall over Iceland.  The upper air pattern has flattened the huge ridge over Europe, or perhaps merely displaced it east deep into Russia. The “steering” seems likely to swing storms further south, perhaps even over Spain, and perhaps to roll another “bowling ball” like the one cut off south of Italy. (Double click this Ryan Maue WeatherBELL map to fully enlarge.)

UK Met Dec 27B gfs_z500_sig_eur_1

What I am cocking an eyebrow at is the trough bringing cold air down over Iceland.  If that slowly shifts east it will start bringing cold air down over Scandinavia and England from the northeast, which can give them their coldest weather.  Meanwhile the Atlantic “Imports” could head straight across the Atlantic into the Mediterranean, giving us this pattern:

A A Screen shot 2013_05_19 at 10_33_10 PM(1)

I’m not making a forecast. I’m just cocking an eyebrow, as an observer.

LOCAL VIEW  —Post-Christmas R+R—

The crimp Rockyson put in the cross-polar-flow has given us a break down here after our Christmas cold.  ( 6 degrees on my back-porch thermometer Christmas morning; -14 Celsius.) Not that it is even thawing, but it is amazing how your body acclimatizes to cold, so that sub-freezing temperatures feel “mild” if it is windless and sunny and only slightly below freezing. We reopened our Childcare, and the kids sledded without complaining, as I fried up fish and chips. (Oh, all right. I confess. I did take a couple runs on a sled.  The old snow has an icy crust, and the new snow is a shallow powder that doesn’t much impede the speed the crust makes possible. I may be an old geezer of sixty, but some things are still irresistible.)

Some Chinook air is flowing east from the west, however to the north the demise of Rockyson is allowing a new Snout of Igor to poke down from the north, and the front along the Canadian Rockies is getting pushed backwards towards the Pacific, starting in the north and moving south.  The boundary between Chinook air and Arctic air can be seen as the front from Lake Superior west-northwest up to the coast of Alaska. (click to enlarge)

A battle 15 satsfc (3)

This boundary actually continues as a sort of ghost front, south from the bit of a warm front poking south from the small low north of lake Superior.  It then curves out into the Atlantic, and continues to curve up and around to Boxer, exiting our map at the upper right corner.  Therefore, as the low over lake Superior is actually on a trailing front, I’m calling it Boxerson. The larger low to the west on the front is Boxerthree.

As Boxerthree slides east along the front it will try to bring the arctic air south to meet and potentially “phase” with the juicy air gathering in the Gulf of Mexico at the end of an old, moderated arctic front. The models are showing that juice getting up here before the arctic air gets down, which would give us rain.  However the models seem to always underestimate the ability of the arctic air to slide in under the radar, so I’m planning on snow.  I’ll dub the storm coming up from the south “Oldyear” as it looks like it will be the last storm of 2013.


DMI Dec 28 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 28 temp_latest.big (1)

Killi is gradually filling in north of Scotland and east of Norway. Snout-of-Igor feature across Pole creates a Siberia to Canada flow vbetween low and high pressure. That flow splits north of Greenland with one branch turning southwest to Canada and the other southeast down the east coast of Greenland. The Arctic Ocean continues to be cut off from warm invasions, and grows colder.

Where is the warm air going? My guess is that it is going into central Asia across the Steppes, as Asia is warmer to the south with winds from the west. To the north winds  are from the east and minus-forty cold is bleeding back towards Europe along the arctic coast. (Below is Ryan Maue WeatherBELL map for Asian temperatures, showing milder southwest and colder northeast. Double click for full enlargement.)

DMI Dec 28 gfs_t2m_asia_1

(There is also an exit region of arctic air south over Japan, due to a 949 mb gale blowing up northeast of Japan.)


UK Met Dec 28 11081727

Killi still strong north of Scotland, with interesting features whirling around in its flow.  Must be fun to try to forecast what is heading up the English Channel.  I’d keep an eye on that ripple on Killi’s cold front in northern France, but I’ve got my own stuff to watch “Across the Pond,” (where you can see Boxer starting to cross.)

Interesting feature over Greece.

LOCAL VIEW   —Chinook air arriving—

A battle 16 satsfc (3)

Boxerson has lifted from Lake Superior to east of Hudson Bay, indicating a southwest flow, however Bexerthird has settled southeast across the border into the Dakotas, indicating a northwest flow.  A lot depends on which flow is in control when Oldyear, now lurking down in the Gulf of Mexico, swings his humidity north. The Snout of Igor looks like it means business.

I went out and watched a gorgeous sunrise this morning, enjoying the “mildness.”  I was surprised to see it was actually down to 24 degrees (-4 Celsius) for it sure felt warmer than that.  The quality of the air was changed, and though I could kick the snow and see it still was powdery, it didn’t squeak underfoot.  The clouds were still sliding down from the north, altocumulous up where it is almost qualifies as cirrocumulous, and they were some color that has no name, not pink but not orange, like the color on a peach where the yellow deepens towards reddish. They looked like water and not ice, which always seems kind and benevolent in the winter, especially when there is also a lot of blue sky.  The air was Pacific air that had been through a long journey and was greatly modified, but still had a memory of what it once was.  (Like me, and some people I’m friends with.)

I decided to go inside and check the weather out in Calgary, where this Chinook came from, and saw their Chinook is over.  (Let me see if I can show you the page I looked at:)

Calgary Dec 28 download

(Click and see if it enlarges.) (This is an experiment.)

In any case, the top graph shows that yesterday their temperatures were up to 55 (13 Celsius) but took a tumble down to -2 (-19 Celsius) overnight, with a lot of the crash occurring right when I’d be out at a movie or party.  Not a night to forget your coat and mittens.

That cold air is heading my way, but I get a day of Chinook first.  You need to take your breaks when they come, or you spend all your time bracing for the next blow.

LOCAL VIEW  —closing comments after a kindly day—

This post is starting to take too long to load on my home computer. I suspect I overload my gadget’s memory with so many maps and graphs. In any case, in order to hook you into looking at the next post, I’ll mention a storm is brewing to my south, and could clobber us.  Boston, only sixty miles away and 1000 feet lower, could get a wash-out rain, but we could get snow.

It was hard to imagine, as I worked outside today, that the weather could become wintry tomorrow afternoon and downright arctic on Monday. Today was delightful, with temperatures up in the forties, and periods of benevolent sunshine despite the northwest wind.

I wore myself out getting things ready for a big family “Yankee Swap” party, and doing ordinary Saturday chores such as taking trash to the recycling center, and spoiling the goats a bit with apples and carrots so they wouldn’t pester the guests arriving at the party, and snow-blowing the farm pond to try to save the skating (despite the fact tomorrow’s storm may ruin it,) and the result of all this work was that at the actual party I was one of those old geezers who falls asleep in an armchair even as the grandchildren charge about making a racket.

I remember the old folk always snoozed in armchairs after big meals in my youth, and how I’d wonder if perhaps they boozed too much.  Those oldsters, white haired, long in tooth, seemed to be wasting so much precious time doing nothing, when they could be zooming the way I zoomed.

Now I enact that crime, and though I still plant and attend to blooming I pace myself, trapped in flesh oft repaired and patched, like comfortable old dungarees. Now I’m the one long-toothed and silver haired, but would brighten if asked, “Share wisdom, please?”  But zooming youth finds wisdom boring, and this bores so that soon I’m snoring.

Refreshed by my nap and fueled by fine food, I’m awake and scanning the maps and radar:

A battle 17 satsfc (3)A battle 17 rad_nat_640x480

I’ll close this post with the suspense of a race between warm and juicy air coming up the coast on the southern stream with “Oldyear,” as “Boxerthird” rides the northern stream down towards us, bringing frigid air over the Great Lakes. It is still starry out, and cool rather than cold, barely down to freezing. The local forecast has the rain-snow line right over us, and that means they don’t know. Tiny things can make the difference between rain and snow, and I’m actually amazed how well the forecasters do, (though I have seen some amazing busts, with a foot of forecast snow amounting to puddles of rain, and forecasts of rain becoming two feet of snow.)

This post will now continue at:


This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was,

These posts began last June, describing the view seen by the “North Pole Camera,” appreciating the beauty of the scene and comparing it with what I had seen through the camera during earlier summers.  While I am no authority on sea ice, I had been enjoying the view for many years, and knew more than many people about how the ice thaws and refreezes, and how the ice in the Arctic Sea moves about.  Most especially I was able to recognize when the newspapers were writing balderdash concerning the “North Pole Melting Away.”

I had become aware over a decade earlier that much of the fret about Global Warming had very weak scientific foundations, largely due to my life-long interest in the Viking colonies of Greenland,  and the absurdly unscientific Alarmist act of attempting to rewrite the history of Viking times in a manner that would “erase the Medieval Warm Period.” This attempt was so unlike science, and so much like a political strategy, that I was alerted before many friends that something odd was going on.

Over the next decade I became very involved as a “Skeptic” in rebutting the “Alarmist” arguments, but by last summer was growing sick of it all. Originally the arguments involved lots of interesting science, and I was learning through debate, however things had degenerated into mere name-calling, and there was no longer much learning involved. I just wanted to get away from it all, and to continue my learning someplace quiet.  One place I knew about was the North Pole Camera’s View.

Of course, the ice at the North Pole is a hot Alarmist topic, due to their idea that the loss of ice will reduce “albedo” and the planet will overheat without the ice reflecting sunlight away.  This idea is debatable, because by the time the ice reaches its minimum the sun is down near the horizon at the Pole, and open water may actually lose more heat than it absorbs. However I’d already been through all the arguments and didn’t want to debate. If you look back to June in these posts I think you’ll notice my writing gets a bit sugary, as I was walking on eggs while bending over backwards to avoid the name-calling debates.  I figured I might even be able to set a good example of civil procedure.

As usual, the temperatures started to nudge above freezing due to the 24-hour-a-day sunshine, and as usual melt-water pools started to form. A lovely one formed right in front of Camera Number Two, and I was commenting on it, stating how such pools usually drained away down through the ice, and we should watch for that, when suddenly the media got involved, stating the melt-water pool was a sign the Pole was overheating and naming the pool “Lake North Pole” and so forth and so on.  My obscure site, which had been getting something like ten views a day, was suddenly getting hundreds.

When the pool drained away like I said it would, and the North Pole did not become ice free, (and in fact was colder than normal with its ice-cover larger than the summer before,) it made the media look stupid and made me look like I knew what I was talking about.  I liked the sensation, but have to be frank and state I wasn’t and am not an authority.  I am merely a witness and an observer.  I state what I see, and, because that is the truth, I may at times appear wiser than the media, which sadly strays from truth to sensationalism and/or propaganda at times.  However that does not mean I am a college professor and exceptionally educated about arctic ice.  Rather it means the media is exceptionally stupid and is failing to observe and properly report what it sees.

In order to give these posts some sort of center, I try (and sometimes fail) to orbit the subject of the specific iceberg the North Pole Camera was situated upon, even though the camera was itself rescued at the end of September. “Our” berg had drifted hundreds of miles, and even with the camera removed had quite an array of equipment deployed on it, placed by more than a single college or government department, as putting these arrays in place is both dangerous and expensive, and therefore resources are pooled.   Our berg happened to have two GPS’s, which proved handy when our berg apparently split in two.  Our Forkasite, (which was short for “Former Camera Site,”) then became two sites, at times drifting as much as seventy miles apart (and as much as fifty miles a day.)  I dubbed the first site “Forkuoy” (for I assumed it was a buoy,) and the second site “Forkarma,” (for it reported the Army data.)  Unfortunately the Forkouy has started to produce garbled data, and may now be kaput, however the Army Forkarma is still drifting south, giving us an inkling of what we can’t see in the midwinter darkness. We can have no idea whether its berg will crumble, and drop the still-functioning GPS and thermometer into the dark depths of the sunless sea, or whether it will continue on, to see the very southern tip of Greenland, and the sunshine of the spring.

I’ll give the Forkarma reports when they become available, and also twice a day try to post the DMI maps of polar air pressures and temperatures that overlook our site. However those maps show storms, and I often get curious about those storms, which leads to other maps and an expanding awareness of weather patterns in Europe, Asia, and North America. After all, the little berg our Forkasite sat upon is part of a greater Arctic, which can greatly effect all northern nations, this time of year.

I will try to avoid the politics of Global Warming as much as possible, but find it very difficult to talk about our innocent iceberg without getting drawn into brawls.  So you’ll have to forgive me if my eyes bug out and I breath rapidly through clenched teeth, from time to time.  I usually get over these fits fairly swiftly.

The updates are added to the bottom of the post.  If you are entering on my “home” page you can click the cartoon balloon beside the post’s title, which takes you down to the start of the comments, and then scroll up to the most recent update.

I had to discontinue pictures from the other cameras scattered around the Arctic Sea, because they have all been shut down, with the exception of the webcam atop a bank in Barrow, Alaska.  I think the buoy-cameras may be solar powered. In any case, there is little to see in the 24 hour darkness. If I’m still around when they start the cameras back up next spring, the pictures will resume.

Lately I’ve started to include something I call the “Local View.”  This is a somewhat self-centered view of how the North Pole is affecting my brother’s small farm, which is also a Childcare Center, in southern New Hampshire.  I have a hunch this could be a bad winter on this side of the planet, so this feature could get interesting.

Last but not least, a long time ago I studied poetry very studiously and got good grades at it. ( A more useless subject, in terms of making money or being “practical,” I doubt exists.) However it explains the fact this blog may occasionally dissolve into purple prose. (I try to hide a sonnet in the prose at least once a week.)

Hopefully that covers everything.  If I have forgotten anything, please feel free to comment.  The comments are my favorite part of hosting these posts.


DMI Dec 2 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 2 temp_latest.big (1)

Too busy to comment. Hope to comment this evening.


Today’s report places us at 74.58 N, 11.75 W, which is 8.21 miles wsw of where we reported from last, yesterday.

The westward motion is good, I think.  It enhances our chances of survival if we move towards the Greenland coast, where the ice is thicker.  Unless we get crushed by a huge ice jam, of course.


DMI Dec 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 2B temp_latest.big (1)

It is amazing to me how quickly the cross-polar-flow flipped from moving from the Bering Strait to Norway all the way around to moving from Siberia to Canada.  Just compare today’s isobar map with map from 48 hours ago.  (Older map to right.)

DMI Dec 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 1 pressure mslp_latest.big

This complete ninety degree swing in the flow was accomplished by the passage of a weak low I dubbed “Chet” from east Siberia to the Queen Elizabeth Islands of Canada.  This low was barely more than a trough or an appendage sticking out from the larger low I called “Baffeast” moving east across Barents Sea.

The former flow brought air from the north to Norway, and also repressed the passage of lows across the Atlantic to the south.  As soon as that north flow was cut off, the low “Morfisthird” was able to take a more northern route and bring up a milder warm sector to Norway from the south, as it cut west of Iceland and passed to Iceland’s north.

The fact a little low like Chet can have such a big effect makes me aware we are looking at a relatively small area of our planet.  The circle of the DMI maps is the sixty degrees latitude line, only a third of the way to the equator and only half as long as the equator. The area within represents a small percentage of the total area of the northern hemisphere.  (You do the math for me.) However is a sort of fulcrum, a small thing that can have big effects.

As Norway abruptly gets warmer, I imagine Canada will abruptly get colder.  A sort of whiplash has occurred, for yesterday the air was being drawn out of northern Canada towards Norway, but today the air is being rammed south into Canada.  That air may at first include some relatively mild (for the arctic) air pulled in from the Pacific through Bering Strait by Chet, but the the temperature map’s isotherm shows the “Snout of Igor” on Chet’s heels, as extremely cold air crosses the Pole.

We experience a somewhat similar whiplash in more southern lands with the passage of a low pressure, as the warm sector brings us south winds that are followed by an abrupt shift to north winds with the passage of the trailing cold front. However that whiplash involves a storm moving along a storm track. The polar whiplash we are observing may move the storm track itself.

It will be very interesting to watch what happens over North America over the next few days.  If the jet stream and storm tracks plunge south, and cold air invades due to the cross polar flow, it will be time to sit back and do some serious musing, pondering whether the Pole influenced the jet stream, or whether the Pole was merely influenced by the jet stream.  (Likely a the-chicken-or-the-egg scenario.)


A second Army report came in, placing our berg at 74.48 N, 11.92 W, which is 7.62 miles southwest of where it was earlier today. Temperatures are a little over a degree colder, at -16.74 C.

To the north, at our “companion buoy,” ( Buoy 2013B: ) temperatures have risen nearly three degrees, but still are a very cold -27.68 C.

With our noble Forkuoy so sadly missing-in-action, I’m paying more attention to our companion buoy, who I will henceforth refer to as “CB.” It is located at 77.36 N, 9.16 W, or 205 miles north-north-east of our Forkarma.  I calculate it has moved 2.41 miles in the time our Forkarma has moved 7.62 miles, which makes me wonder if the cold is making the ice up there stiffer and harder to budge, even though it is further east.

A bit more calculating tells me that in the past four Army reports CB has moved 6.12 miles, and during that same period our Forkarma has moved 19.9 miles.  The Forkarma has extended his lead by over 13 miles.  Does that mean a gap of 13 miles of open water has appeared between the two, and how long would it take that water to freeze over with new “baby ice?”  Or does it mean that the wind that has pushed both site west has crammed a lot of ice between the two of them?  What the heck is going on up in that darkness, up there in Fram Strait?

I noticed something unusual, glancing over the ice-extent -maps. One of the three maps actually shows the ice extending from Greenland all the way to Iceland, yesterday. Likely it was only a sea dotted with ice, 25% extent, and likely the winds, that are pushing the ice west, pushed the ice away from Iceland today. However I figured it was worth mentioning, because I have never seen any map show such a thing before, and it seems noteworthy because it isn’t even winter yet.

It is very rare, but it has happened that the ice jams up between Iceland and Greenland, and one could (theoretically) even walk from Iceland to Greenland. If we got a couple more good gales, ripping up ice in the Barents Sea, and hurling it west north of Svalbard, and then flushing it all down through Fram Strait, we might see such a rare event this winter.  It is unlikely, but I figured I’d share the map with you:  (It may take a while to download, and double-clicking gives you an over-large enlargement.)

Extent Dec 2 N_bm_extent_hires


The change in the cross-polar-flow not only seems to be allowing Morfisthird to take a more northern route and bring a warm sector up towards Scandinavia, but also allowing Morfisthird’s cold front to kick the high-pressure stalled west of Ireland across the United Kingdom and on into Europe.  I wish I could fly over to see if the weather is as nice as it looks. But notice that a new high-pressure is sliding up from the southwest to replace the one that was so hard to budge.  Also notice that an occlusion is folded back from Morfisthird to the coast of Greenland.  Some models are showing it sitting there, stewing and brewing and becoming enough of a low to steer a later low, zipping across from North America, south into Southern Norway by Thursday.

Also notice the “Etna Low” sitting down there over Mount Etna.  What gives with that thing?  Will it be there all winter? (Click to enlarge)

UK Met Dec 2 10444059

LOCAL VIEW   —A gray Monday—

No granddaughter yet, so I ‘ve been functioning in a sort of mechanical manner. One of the good things about getting older is that you know it is better to be mechanical.  When I was a young poet I could be paralyzed by things not being quite right.  It was important, back then, to sit about and anguish.  Then I learned that bill collectors don’t care a hoot about my anguish.  They don’t want great poems; they want money.  I attempted to explain to them that they were missing something important, but they didn’t want to listen. So, with a deep sigh of resignation, I became a pragmatic old man, who tends to worldly responsibilities in a mechanical manner, whist writing great poems in the back of his mind.

The map already shows the end to our pause from arctic attacks in the upper left of the map, where a 1056 mb high pressure pokes down from the Yukon.  Already the shift in the cross-polar-flow is showing, but it will take a few days to get down here.  Down here we are amidst a grey torpor, a charcoal lassitude of light drizzle and faint wind. The low pressure systems are feeble and the fronts are flaccid.  The limp storms off shore are just strong enough to extend their cloud shields inland, so that we see occasional brightening from the west and darkening from the east, and the jets descending towards Manchester Airport to our east are below the clouds to our west but vanish into the lowering overcast to our east. Occasionally a cold sprinkle falls, perhaps with a few bits of sleet, but mostly it is just above freezing. (In April the exact same situation would give us a surprise four inches of snow, because the ocean would be a few degrees colder.)

An Alberta Clipper has trundled east to upper NY State like a man half asleep, as a secondary low has brewed from near nothingness off Cape Hatteras.  Ordinarily such a combination of northern branch and southern branch would breed wild excitement, and perhaps a young weather-watcher is eyeing the situation with apt attention, but I have my doubts about any sort of birthing, tonight.

That high pressure up in the Yukon is going to come pressing south, revitalizing the sluggish pattern and creating what is known as a “pressing” pattern.  There will be no circular gales, but rather a flat front attempting to push against a rally of summer to the far southeast.  Florida will be summery, but I doubt the warmth will make it this far north.  Rather the lackadaisical front over us now will get stiffer and stronger, and to the west will push all the way south to the Rio Grande between Texas and Mexico.  Then little ripple after little ripple will come north along this front, which will likely sag to our south, and we’ll be on the north and perhaps snowy side, as ripple after ripple passes by to our south.  I expect our brown landscape to turn white, and stay white until April.

Therefore I am going to enjoy this landscape of brown, for the final few days, though it is dreary. In the same way my daughter should try to enjoy these final dreary days of pregnancy, for they are her final days of daughter-free existence.

Having a kid is akin to a blizzard. Things you didn’t even know were hard to do become major accomplishments and treasured moments.  Southern people have no clue what winter is like until they experience one themselves, and daughters have no idea what fathers go through until they themselves have daughters.

Actually, come to think of it, this could be interesting.  (Click to enlarge)

Another pause 3 satsfc (3)


DMI Dec 3 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 3 temp_latest.big (1)\

Between the big high pressure in Alaska and weak Chet in the Queen Elizabeth Islands quite a a lot of Arctic air is being pumped across the pole and south into North America, but it looks like Europe’s break will not last, as the north flow behind Morfistthind will replace the south flow in front of it.

Morfisthird seems to be headed for Barents Sea, which is a sort of parking lot for storms these days.  The north flow behind it will repress the following storms south, and it looks like Scandinavia will be soon be back on the cold side of the storm track.  Plenty of snow for Christmas up there, it appears.


Another pause 4 satsfc (3)

You can see that big snout of high pressure poking down from Alaska and the Yukon, bringing an arctic flow down its east side. At first the air will have a bit of modified Pacific air that leaked north through the Bering Strait mixed in, but that air will continue to be modified by home-grown cooling as it comes south over snows, as well as be mixed with some cold already in place, and it will be followed by colder cold exported from Siberia.  The flabby front draped over the northern states of the USA is already flinching slightly south, but for the most part the USA looks unsuspecting, like a lamb that sees no lion.

The weak low just off the east coast looks like it is slipping out to sea, and we are on the verge of escaping its cloud shield.  I really shouldn’t complain, for I once spent a winter up in northern Scotland and know what truly short days are like, and that we get plenty of daylight compared to Europe, especially northern Europe.  However it is amazing how little cloud-cover it takes to make life seem incredibly gloomy.  The late sunrise is that much later, and the early sunset comes that much faster, and the time in the middle is dank, drizzly and dank, and even though both adults and small children seem to have an instinctive response of attempting to avoid depression and despair by becoming manic with business, psyches seem invaded by creeping shadows.  People purchase bright flowers and set up Christmas Lights in an attempt to chase the gloom away,  but nothing works as well as a simple beam of sunlight.

One low beam of sunlight alters the world. The grey fog becomes silver mist; each twig holds a spark of dew; the old dog that curled by the warming stove now dances a jig by the door; through a white overhead haze blue-eyed sky smiles down like a young mother.  After too many charcoal smeared days (lacking even a shadow) sought to smother our spirits, even a shadow’s a glad thing, stretching cat-like across jewel-frosted grass.

One low beam makes winter birds sing. One Low beam makes the sadness pass, and if that’s all takes to end sorrow’s dream, Oh Lord, can you send us one low beam?


The latest report places our site at 74.37 N, 12.03 W,  which is 7.9 miles southwest from where it last reported from yesterday.  Temperatures had fallen to -20.12 C.

Temperature at CB to north has risen to -25.27 C.

It’s mighty cold on the west side of Fram Strait, that’s for sure.


DMI Dec 3B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Dec 3B temp_latest.big (1)

“Morfisthird” looks to be a potent little gale north of Norway now, ripping away at any “baby ice” trying to form north of there.  The high pressure over Canada lookd red and warm, but cold air sinks, and sinking air presses down, and pressing down makes high pressure.  That’s a weight of cold up there.


I’m turning in early to catch up on some sleep, but a quick look at the local map shows that storm off the coast did bomb out a bit, but only after it passed us.  Nova Scotia is getting the attention, and then the next stop is Greenland, I suppose.

To our west all fronts are sagging back as the arctic starts to press. Notice that front on the Pacific coast is actually backed west out to sea.

Another pause 5 satsfc (3)


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

Morfisthird is parking over Barents Sea, sweeping its cold front over Scandinavia, but leaving a zipped-up occulsion in its wake all the way back past Iceland to the coast of Greenland.  This will persist, fueling off the constast between cold air pouring down behind Morfisthird, and form a weak low or two, (Which I’ll dub “Morfistclue,” for Morfist-occlusion, and perhaps “Morfistcluson,” if a second follows the first.) These lows will likely be weak, and their main effect will be to put a crimp in the warmfront of the low coming up from the east coast of the USA through the Maritimes, forming a low on the warm front which, as it has plenty of warm, juicy “gasoline,” will likely zip across the Atlantic as the next gale, crashing through southern Norway and Sweden Friday morning, kept on a more southerly track by the flow still pressing south behind Morefisthird.

The low that gave us gloom, drizzle and not much else as it passed, but has grown stronger after it passed, will be dubbed “Tip” because it tiptoed by,  and the one that forms on Tip’s warmfront and zips across the Atlantic will be “Tipzip.” It is interesting how swiftly these zippers can run along a warmfront. Tipzip is in Sweden on Friday morning, as Tip is still malingering back to the southwest of Greenland’s southern tip, as an occluded Labrador Low.

The flow out of Siberia is now forked, with half pouring into Canada on one side of Greenland, and half down the other, east coast of Greenland (and then back to Europe.) Aparently the Pole has decided it has plenty of cold to go around.


I just thought I’d pop this map in, for the record. It shows Morfiststird atop Norway as a 965 mb gale, with its cold front sweeping across Scandinavia (and perhaps a secondary trying to form over southern Sweden and the Baltic.)  The folded-over occusions stretch back from Morfisthird all the way to Iceland.  The warm fronts from Tip are just appearing in the lower left over Newfoundland, and Tipzip doesn’t even exist yet. (click to enlarge)

UK Met Dec 4 10480268


(click to enlarge)

Another pause 6 satsfc (3)

Tip has grown to a decent little gale just departing Nova Scotia, with just enough of a flow behind it to keep warm air from coming up the east coast over me. It is cold but not terribly cold.  The really cold air has made it down the Canadian Rockies and is pouring into Montana, on its way all the way down to Texas.  Snows are breaking out in the Dakotas ahead of it, and it looks like something is brewing  ahead of it as it pushes, with one system in Colorado and a second in Missouri.  I expect they will head northeast and become some sort of Great Lakes storm to my west, giving me a final day of southwest flow before the fun and games start.

DECEMBER 4 —FORKARMA REPORT— Passing south of 74 degrees latitude

Latest position was 73.99 N, 12.41 W, and the temperature was up nearly two degrees, to  -18.37 C.  Since the last report I quoted, (no time stamps, but roughly 24 hours ago,) we have moved 27.32 miles south-southwest.


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

Morfisthird continues to churn the Barents Sea, which continues to be largely ice free, though ice has grown south to the east coast of Svalbard, and Franz Josef Land, (The group of arctic islands east of Svalbard,)  is now completely surrounded by ice.  The storms have kept the southwest corner of the Kara Sea open, but the rest has frozen up. (the Kara sea is across that noodle-shaped island that extends the Ural Mountains into the Arctic Sea.)

(start geography lesson—That noodle-shaped island is called “Novaya Zemyla,” and the next group of islands are called Severnaya Zemyla, and if there was any sanity in place-names the next group of islands to the east would be called New-Siberianaya Zemyla, and the last island before Bering Strait would be called Wrangleaya Zemyla. The seas are seperated by Zemylas. Barents Sea is before the first, the Kara Sea is between the first and second, the Laptev sea is between the second and third, the East Siberian Sea is between the third and fourth, and the waters down into Bering strait are the Chukchi Sea. Together these five seas form the Northeast Passage.  —end geography lesson )

Siberia bakes in the 24 hour sunshine of summer, and the coastal waters are understandably prone to thawing and being open, considering the land can have temperatures up near ninety. (32 Celsius.)  However the situation reverses during winter, for once Siberia is snow-covered it can have temperatures colder than the icecap of Greenland.  Understandably the coastal waters freeze.  They tend to freeze from east to west, and as they do the storms that like to crawl along the Siberian coast, feeding off the warmth and evaporation from open waters, run into closed waters.  First the East Siberian Sea freezes, and then the Laptev, and now the Kara Sea is nearly frozen over.  It seems to me that, as the arctic lows move from open water to ice-covered waters, they behave in some ways like a hurricane moving over land.  They promptly and predictably weaken. In the same manner, if given a chance by the forces that control their movement, they will hang back from termination.  Just as hurricanes can seem to have minds, and shrink from landfalls, Arctic storms avoid moving over ice, which I suppose should be called an “icefall.”

In any case, Morfisthird is facing an icefall, as he approaches the east side of Barents Sea, and his foreward elements will weaken as his rear elements strengthen.  At this point his rear elements include features in his folded over occlusion extending back towards Iceland, and the first of those features, Mortfistclue, is larger than I expected as it approaches Norway.  A sort of backwards hand-off seems to occur, as if the northern lows were obeying the rules of rugby.

The net result has been to keep ice from forming on Barents Sea.  However when we check another DMI feature to see if the destruction of Barents Sea Ice, and its export west and down into Fram Strait, has slowed the growth of ice, we see ice is ahead of other years with reduced ice. (Click to enlarge)

Extent graph Dec 4 icecover_current_new

Considering Barents Sea is behind schedule, one wonders where the ice is growing so fast.  To some degree it is because the Kara Sea has frozen faster than other slow years.  However most of the increase doesn’t even appear on our DMI maps, because it is occurring with mildly remarkable swiftness way down south in Hudson Bay.

As our interest is further north, perhaps we should focus on the high pressure sprawling across northern Canada, Alaska and the Bering Straits. However, to be honest, I am having trouble digesting this data.  On one hand high pressure is a sign of cold air, which sinks, pressing a vast weight of cold down there.  However such high pressure also alters isobar, which influence the direction of winds, and it looks like the winds are cutting off the imprt of cold air into Canada, especially to the west.  (This is likely a good thing, because such a load of cold has been delivered south into North America already that it could cause serious cold-related problems as far south as Texas.  (For you Europeans, Texas is farther south than the African coast of the Mediterranean.))


(Click to enlarge.)

UK Met Dec 4B 10492849

I include this map mostly to show the genesis of “Tipzip,” which did not even exist on this morning’s map. Tip is way back on the lower left, slowed down and stalling, but as his warm front extended east a ripple appeared on it, aided an abetted by the veritable spiderweb of occlusions that makes up Morfistclue, northeast of Iceland.

On this map Tipzip has a central pressure of, at best, 1010 mb. But check out the forecast 24 hours from now. Tipzip is centered over southern Norway and has a pressure of 968 mb. Yowza!  That storm sure did zip! (If the forecast is correct.) (Click to enlarge)

UK Met Dec 4B T 10495493

Although Tipzip zipped, look how sluggish Tip is dawdling back to the west.  Also notice how, after it took us so long to budge the high pressure parked west of Ireland, another high pressure is taking a stand right in that same spot.

Lastly, it looks like the folk around Mount Etna are getting a lull, which I hope they appreciate. Who knows how long it will last?

LOCAL VIEW  —-I fear this report will be biased—-

(click to enlarge)

Another pause 7 satsfc (3)

This map is quite different from yesterday’s and the day before’s. The lull is ending. There is nothing indistinct or flabby about the fronts and features.  Out of focus stuff is coming into focus.

Tip is stalled up in the right corner, only a 990 mb gale, but made a gale by the high pressure he is embedded in.  His back-side north winds have pushed down over us all day, and kept the storm to our west’s front-side south winds from coming north, and creating a warm front to our south.

The storm to our west is a Great Lakes Low, but rather than calling it Fitz-something I am just going to call it “Press,” because it is in front of pressing arctic air that has below zero (Fahrenheit) temperatures entering the USA, when it is still autumn!

Southwest of that, over Arizona, is a Rocky Mountain low that was over Colorado, but was pushed south by the pressing cold.  I dub it “Zing,” (for the second syllable pf “Pressing.”)

What is most interesting to me is the cold front that extends southwest from Zing into the Pacific west of the central Baja, Mexico.  Although they stopped drawing that cold front offshore, the clouds show it curves back north towards Alaska.  The mottled cloud cover in the air-mass within that front suggests stratocumulus, and a cold air-mass.  In fact a polar air-mass has shoved Pacific air back towards Hawaii, and the front off the Pacific coast of Canada separates cold polar air from colder Arctic air.  In other words, benign and kindly Chinook winds are thousands of miles away from interrupting the arctic attack.

A news-worthy cold wave is charging south into the USA, and ordinarily I’d be interested.  However, to be honest, I don’t care a flying flip.

My daughter had her baby.  Her labor was amazingly swift, considering her mother labored long and hard to deliver her.  We are talking two hours compared to twenty.  However the result was the same: A beautiful, tiny girl.

The forecast was that my daughter was genetically disposed to suffer twenty hours, but the forecast was wrong.  Things are not always as bad as they appear. Therefore, even though a major arctic attack is on the verge of clobbering the USA, I am not inclined to care a flying flip about how things appear.  Instead I will simply sit back and be glad things have turned out the way things are.


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

Barents Sea continuing to be trashed, as Morfisthird exits stage right and Morfistclue enters stage left. Moefistclue has gotten much stronger than I expected. Tipzip is barely apparent at very bottom. Cross-polar-flow moving from Siberia right down into Fram Strait and over our Forkarma. I wonder if the ice will increase in the strait.

A copycat of Chet is crossing the Pole on the Bering Strait side, looking weak and insignificant, but likely to switch the flow back into Canada as Chet did. (I didn’t notice it last night, but now it is obvious.) Call it “Chettwo.” In its wake a “Snout of Igor” will stick right across the Pole.

LOCAL VIEW  —mild weather hanging on in the east—

Another pause 8 satsfc (3)

The warm front extending southeast from Press has made no progress north towards us over night, but the southeast wind ahead of it brings ocean-warmed air inland, and we have drizzle with temperatures just above freezing.  (I am ignoring that little low the fellow who drew the map drew in at the end of the warm front, for now.)

To the west of Press cold air is driving right down to Zing.  Temperatures in Denver were thirteen below last night,  ( -25, Celsius,) before midnight, breaking yesterday’s low temperature record by eight degrees. Fortunately that air will be moderated before it comes east to us. An upper air ridge is developing in the southeast, and that brings up warm air to resist the progress of cold from the west.  In 48 hours the 500 mb level map looks like this: (click to enlarge.) (Dr. Ryan Maue’s map from WeatherBELL.)

Another Pause gfs_z500_sig_noram_9

The cold air is so strong it will sink under the warm flow and bleed east, and a battleground will set up right over us.  Likely rain will win at first, but then snow will win out in the end.

This morning the world was still brown, in the dark December daylight. As I drove a couple boys to kindergarten the mist was thick enough to make the roads shiny and reflect white headlights and orange turn-signals in the gloom, but thin enough to reveal the hills rolling away, dimmer and dimmer into the distance, with the valleys lighter than the peaks, like a Japanese watercolor.

FORKARMA DATA  —Can we avoid Iceland?—

Latest report puts us at 73.59 N, 12.75 W, with an air temperature of -14.79 C. We have moved 28.51 miles south-southwest since yesterday’s report.

Now here is something interesting to contemplate.  Consider the longitude we are at, and the longitude Iceland is at.  We are at 12.75 W, and if you trace that south you see it passes to the east of Iceland. Iceland’s east edge is at 13.5 W, and it extends west past 24 N.  If our Forkarma is to pass through the Denmark Strait, (and if the companion buoy to our north is to follow suit,) it seems obvious they must squeeze to the west. However there is only so much space between Greenland and Iceland.  Will we fit?

Until we get down to 70 N the coast of Greenland doesn’t curve west much, so the westward motion tends to pack the ice and make it thicker along the coast.  Once south of 70 N the coast falls away to the southwest, leaving a space of 180 miles between Iceland and Greenland.  Our Forkasite is roughly 60 miles from the coast, with ice extending roughly 40 miles to its east, so it seems the ice would have 80 miles to spare.  However it must navigate a sharp turn west, and must not spread out and have the waters freeze between the bergs.

The ice actually does this every year without much fanfare, but every hundred years or so there is a sort of ice-jam in Denmark Strait.  I’m keeping my eyes peeled on the off-hand chance this might be one of those years.  The first map below shows the current extent, with an odd bulge towards Iceland. (click to enlarge)

Extent Dec 5 arcticicennowcast (1)

The next map is more difficult to read, because the white area shows not merely ice, but also sea-water right at the freezing point. One interesting thing about salt water is that, unlike fresh water, it does not stay at the surface and freeze, but often it promptly sinks and is replaced by slightly warmer water rising up from below. Often you can see an area turn white and then purple again in a day, and in the case of a sea that freezes over, like the Laptev Sea, this can happen many times before the sea finally freezes.

However I like the map because it gives me a hint of what the water is like past the edge of the ice.  This current map shows that the water north of Denmark Strait and south of Fram Strait is quite cold, and is likely more conducive to expanding ice than shrinking ice.

Extent Dec 5 water temp satsst.arc.d-00

This doesn’t answer the question, “Can we avoid Iceland?” However it makes watching more interesting.  Stay tuned!


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

It is difficult to see the real news on this map, which is Tipzip crashing into Southern Norway.  (Down in “comments” Stewart Pid mentions they named the gale “Xaver” over in Europe.  Rediculous. “Tipzip” is far more sensible.) It’s pressure, which was only down to 1010 mb yesterday, was 967 mb over southern Norway, and may have been lower over the North Sea before landfall.

What will be interesting to watch is the effect its southern route has on Morfisthird  (entering the Kara Sea,) and Morfistclue, (atop Norway.)  A northern version of the Fujiwhara Effect seems to get there northern storms wheeling around each other a South American Gauchos’ three-stoned boleadoras.  I can never figure out which storm will weaken and which will strengthen, when they do these dances.

The cross-polar-flow continues to pour cold over our Forkarma east of Greenland, however a forked flow is starting to develop as Chettwo crosses towards Canada, with a second fork pronging Canada.

I imagine the interruption and then resumption of a flow into Canada will have a reflection further south, as an interruption and resumption of the arctic attack further south.

It would also be interesting to know if sucking all this cold air north from Siberia gives China milder weather, or whether Siberia can produce enough cold to attack in two directions at once.  I myself have no idea.


UK Met Dec 5 10517356


A second report for today places our Forkarma at 73.31 N, 12.77 W, with temperatures slightly warmer at -14.42 C. Since earlier today we have moved 19.42 miles only slightly west of due south.  Winds must be strong from the north.

The CB (Companion Buoy) is located at 76.77 N, 10.24 W, which is 244.16 miles to our north.  Temperatures are at -20.80 C.

Since yesterday CB has moved  27.93 miles south while our Forkarma has moved 47.68 miles south. In theory nearly twenty miles of open water has appeared between the two, as the Forkarma increases its lead.  The question then becomes, does the open water stay open?  With the water close to the freezing point, and with temperatures so low and winds likely strong, it seems likely the water is skimming over with some form of sea-slush or baby-ice.

Also the ice likely shifts west to fill in the gaps, which would tend to make the ice narrower in its extent away from Greenland.  If you look back up to the extent map you see a sort of narrowing down towards Iceland, except for the bulge right in Denmark Strait. However the problem with this idea is that our Forkarma had hardly any westward movement in the last observation.


LOCAL VIEW  —Warm Front Passes—

The 0000z map, (dated December 6 though it is still December 5 here,) shows the warm front still south of us, as it was throughout the daylight, which was fairly purple in the pea-soup fog.  The cold air hung in at the surface stubbornly, as temperatures slowly rose from the low thirties to high thirties.  The fire I built out in the pasture of the Childcare was a welcome place, especially for my staff, but the kids raced about in the early darkness with small flashlights I handed out, and seemed a lot warmer than I was.  The wind shifted about, but became a drift from the southwest after dark, but the fog hung in and the temperatures stayed low.  Then, around seven o’clock, just as I was driving to a Bible study of grizzled old grouches and their better halves, the fog vanished.  Abruptly the air was not raw, and became downright kindly, as temperatures jumped up to fifty. (10 Celsius)  (It never ceases to amaze me how a northern body can adjust in a week, and fifty can seem warm.)

Another pause 9 satsfc (3)

The map shows “Press” has become big over James Bay, (if not deep at 982 mb,) and his occlusion has become a secondary cold front swinging down behind. Intense cold is filling in behind as high pressure, in a way a “Snout of Igor” reaching all the way south to north Texas. The weight of this pressing cold is crushing “Zing” south, to a redevelopment on the primary cold front, now touching the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico.  This primary cold front is slowing down, as a building Bermuda High pumps warm air north to fight it.  This primary front will likely stall and be a battleground for a while, and Zing will likely be the first of several ripples moving up that front.

The cold will get here eventually, but tonight I’ll enjoy the pleasurable guilt of being at fifty degrees as Texans experience fifteen.  In terms of Celsius, it is the difference between ten above and ten below.

To Europeans it makes perfect sense that it is fifty in the stark, glacier-scoured, granite landscape of New Hampshire, for at latitude 42.75 I’m at the latitude of sunny Spain.  However for Texas to be at fifteen is nuts, to the European psyche, because the top of Texas is at the latitude of the Strait of Gibraltar. The bottom of Texas is at 26 degrees north,  as far south as African Morocco’s southern border with Western Sahara.

On this side of the Atlantic we are fools, when it comes to comprehending the power of the North Atlantic Gales which Europeans deem ordinary.  However, (south of Siberia and Scandinavia,) Europeans are fools, when it comes to comprehending how far south the arctic wolves can howl, over here.

What Texas is being hit by was called by the old-time cowboys a “Blue Norther,” and it was very dangerous work to herd cattle in the winter, when a Blue Northern could come down and funnel into the Rio Grande valley and bring sub-zero cold even to the delta at the Gulf of Mexico at Brownsville. ( “Sub-zero” is -17.77 Celsius.)  (Try to imagine that kind of cold hitting the south border of Morocco.)

However the gales of the North Atlantic are equally hard to imagine.

Once, when young, I worked for an old fellow named Amoray up in Maine who struck me as nicely educated and intellectual, but perhaps a bit effete, until he mentioned, in passing, that during World War Two he crewed on a “Liberty Ship” in the North Atlantic.

I asked him, even though I knew that they had to sail those rolling tubs during winter gales, “In the winter?”

He nodded.

I asked, “Was the rolling bad?”

He seemed to appreciate that a young fool like me actually knew that Liberty Ships were cranked out in quantity without all that much attention to quality, and his eyes grew sharper, as he regarded me keenly, and nodded again.

I figured he’d never talk, but made a final attempt, asking, “Was it bad?”

Persistence paid, because I got an amazing story.

He said he had to go on deck because he had to go fifteen yards from one part of the ship to another, and the builders hadn’t included an interior doorway. He tried to time his dash to a lull in the screaming wind, but as he staggered down the deck the ship rolled over so far a huge white wave came out of the darkness, clobbered him, and though he clung to a rail with all his might and main, it tore him from the ship and dragged him out into the bitter cold blackness.

As the ship rolled the other way he got a final view of dim light up above, with his life over. There was no way to stop to retrieve a man overboard in such a gale, (even in a calm they couldn’t stop because German submarines would torpedo them if they did,) and he thought of the girl he’d never see again nor marry.  The railing was a silhouette high above, and he was far below, but then the boat came rolling back down, and the sea picked him up higher and higher until he was looking down down at the deck from above. Then, with a smash, he was hurled aboard right by a doorway, which he ripped open and scrambled through and slammed shut.

My last question was, “Were you hurt?”

“Just a broken arm.”

And the moral of my story is that it is likely unwise to call any man effete, no matter which side of the Atlantic he is from, until you learn what he has been through.


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

Forked cross-polar flow continues.  The source region in Siberia has some minus thirty-five air.  “Tipzip” is 962 mb gale in Baltic.


Our site is at 73.06 N, 12.81 W, with temperatures at -13.37 C.  We’ve moved 17.35 miles since yesterday, pretty much due south.  Westward motion could be increased in 48 hours, when strong east winds are forecast.


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

Too busy to comment. Draw your own conclusions.


Radar Dec 6 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Not much low pressure on the map, but that blue on the radar is snow.  That’s why I’m busy, though it is still raining here.


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

“Tipzip” has gone crashing into Russia, just off our map at around five o’clock. The remains of Morfistthird and Morfistclue continue to loiter around the periphery of Barents Sea in a weakened state, likely allowing the waters to calm a bit and some baby ice to form.

Tip stalled out around Labrador, and I’m going to call the low kicked east of Cape Farewell (southern tip of Greenland) “Tipson,” though I haven’t had time to pay close attention, and it could be argued it is actually Tip.

Cold air is streaming north from Siberia and and continuing to fork at the Pole. Some nasty cold is entering Canada now, with the other fork pushing the below freezing isotherm well south of Iceland and east to the top of Scotland. A blob of above freezing isotherms has progressed up the coast of Norway and may be the gasoline for the next Barents sea Gale.

Despite the “Snout of Igor” feeding so much cold onto the Arctic Sea,  the cold is not hearded up there, and is so promptly exported that temperatures up around the Pole are actually above normal, as is often the case when it is very cold further south.  You want a zonal flow colding the cold in a tight circle around the Pole to get the coldest temperatures up there, but so far this autumn the pattern has been “meridianal,” with blocks and a loopy jet stream, and arctic outbreaks.

FORKARMA DATA  —South of 73 north latitude—

Today’s report puts our site at 72.95 N, 12.92 W, with air temperatures moderating to  -12.45 C. (In contrast, our Companion buoy 240 miles north has temperatures down to  -27.19 C.)  We have slowed down a bit, which is likely the calm before the storm, as I expect Tipson to bring strong east winds and crush the ice against the coast of Greenland.  We moved 7.95 miles south-southwest.


I’m going to start out with yesterday’s map which shows the front just passing over us in the morning. It was up around fifty in the predawn, but gradually fell through the forties as the day passed, with sprinkles of rain at times, but other times showing bits of blue between a high flat overcast of alto cumulus.  It was actually quite lovely, as the sun is so low in December there are shades of sunset colors even at noon.

However the little low Zing was running up Press’s cold front. You can see the bulge in the clouds behind the front.  By evening it was dark and starting to rain more heavily, with temperatures dropping down into the thirties.  (This makes people nervous around here, for a similar rain turned into a severe ice-storm five years ago, leaving us without power for ten days, which is an experience I don’t want to go through again.)  Around seven-thirty the rain abruptly turned to heavy, sticky snow, and it snowed heavily for around a half hour, making the Christmas lights my wife put up around the front doorway look festive, and then the snow became lighter. (click map to enlarge.)

A start 1 satsfc (3)

The second map is this morning’s, which shows the ripple has passed out to sea, with a second ripple following it further south.  The world outside is whitened and wintery with only an inch or two of snow.  Even that small amount will lower temperatures between five and ten degrees.  Life abruptly becomes more of an ordeal.

A start 2 satsfc (3)

The map should actually have a second cold front from lake Superior south to Oklahoma, as a second shot of even colder air is contained in the arctic high sliding southeast behind the departing Press. The air entering is around minus forty, and the only good thing I have to say about such cold is that it is the same temperature in Fahrenheit as it is in Celsius.  That cold will moderate some as it comes east towards us, but with increasing snow cover it will not moderate as much.  We could see below zero Fahrenheit at the end of next week.

Here is a screen shot from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at WeatherBELL, in case you have ever thought of moving to Montana. Brrr! (Click to enlarge.)

Montana Screen shot 2013_12_07 at 8_32_57 AM

One last thing: At the very top of today’s local map you can see snippets of a warm and cold front. That is actually “Chet2,” tansiting the Pole from Siberia, and bringing the Snout of Igor across and down. So, though we get a bit of a break after the current cold wave, It should be swiftly followed by another.  The danger is that rather than aiming down at Montana it will aim further east.  So I’d best get to work.


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

The big Snout-of-Igor high pressure crossing the arctic is loaded with nasty cold for North America.  I think it is colder than it looks from the isotherm map, as the buoys off the Canadian coast are reporting temperatures below minus thirty, which the map doesn’t show.  for example Buoy 2013F: is reporting  -30.20 C and Buoy 2013G: is reporting -30.07 C.

Europe is getting some nasty east and northeast winds around the backside of Tipzip (AKA “Xaver.”) It doesn’t really show on the DMI Arctic map, which mostly shows the fork in the flow and the wind coming down via east Greenland and across the North Atlantic.  As cold as that wind can be, it is greatly moderated by its Atlantic passage and nothing like the cruel east winds from Siberia.  However Tipson is appearing south of Iceland, likely the forerunner of some dramatic changes for West Europe, and a time when the west will clash with the east.

It is interesting to watch the retreat of the zero isotherm back north.  It is hard to keep air that cold over ten degree water. (Thirty-two Fahrenheit air over fifty degree water.)

That low to the southwest of Greenland is the first appearance of “Press.”


The current UK Met map shows some cold winds in the wake of Tipzip (AKA Xaver.) However a warm front has reclaimed Ireland and Great Britain.  (Click to enlarge)

UK Met Dec 7 10564956

As Tipzip moves further into Russia it is likely to bring the sort of cold down in its wake that defeated Napoleon and Hitler, over Russia and Poland, and perhaps briefly extending east into Scandinavia.  However a feature I would not have expected, looking at this map, appears off Morrocco and travels up west of Spain and eventually Ireland,  and in 72 hours the GPS model produces this map of isobars and winds. (Thanks to Ryan Maue and WeatherBELL for turning unintelligible GFS data into great maps.) (Click to enlarge and click again to enlarge further.)

WB Dec 7 gfs_mslp_uv10m_natl_25

What is most interesting is that orange stripe of 30-40 knot winds from off the coast of Morocco right up to southern Norway.  I can’t imagine that is a cold flow.  It looks downright balmy. I wonder if they have a name for out-of-African-Atlantic storms.  It never gets that big, but its flow is a major feature for days.

This map predicts neither Press nor Tipson will develop anything major right away.  Tipson looks occluded into a string of lows, with the one up in the upper right having the potential to stir up a ruckus in Barents Sea, while Press also looks seriously stalled and occluded, with the secondary down over Newfoundland looking like it might brew up into a Newfoundland gale.

However the real news will likely be the southerly flow up into Western Europe, and how it interacts with the cold over Russia.  Stay tuned!


Some who have been following my musings for a while may recall the saga of Buoy 2013C: , which broke loose from a reletavely stable ice shelf and took off down Nare Strait, between Greenland and Canada.  After a while it turned sharply west, as if it intended to traverse a northern branch of the Northwest Passage during winter, however it found that route rough sledding, and headed back out towards Baffin Bay.  Baffin Bay has become choked with ice, and for a time it seemed this buoy had been frozen fast, however a couple of decent storms shooting up into Baffin Bay seems to have budged it.  Between December first and seventh it moved from 72.82 N, 75.57 W  to 72.68 N, 74.39 W, a total of 26.15 miles to the east-southeast.

While it may now take this buoy a week to travel a distance our Forkarma can cover in a day, its motion is a reminder how mobile the ice is up there.  It is a common misconception to think the arctic is frozen solid during the winter, silent and still.  The truth is there are tides and there are storms, and stillness is a rarity.

Anyway, check out the travels of this berg on the map below. (Double click to enlarge fully, so you can see all the loops.)

BUOY 2013C_DEC 7 track

LOCAL VIEW  —I’d rather look at maps—

Click maps to to enlarge

a SRART 3 satsfc (3)A start 3 gfs_z500_sig_noram_1

The upper air map to the right shows the high in Alaska driving the record-setting cold south and digging the trough, however the high to the southeast will put up a fight.

The little ripple over Georgia, “Zingson,” can’t duck out to sea, with that ridge in the way, especially as the low-pressure along the cold front, that his predecessor Zing travelled along, is undergoing a “trough-split,” which is just another way of saying the isobars of the cold arctic high are merging with the warm Bermuda high.  So Zingson is fated to move slowly, gathering what forces he can from a south that is basically swept clear of moisture. You can see a little plume of Pacific air shooting through Mexico and already making a little bulge over Texas, but that is not much to go on.  The Gulf of Mexico is still quite warm and may generate some moisture through evaporation with surprising speed, but time is short. The Atlantic can generate moisture as well.  Lastly, the northern stream is bringing down a weak impulse, (that orange, dashed line at the top of the map slanting down to the left,) (“Chet,”)  but the only moisture there would have to evaporate from the Great Lakes.  All in all, there are not the ingredients for a big storm, but there are the ingredients.  Zingson won’t go away, and next week will begin with just enough slop to annoy.

I’m going to call that Rocky Mountain low over Nevada “Rocky,” because I am not feeling all that original tonight.  That low will just sit there, because the huge arctic high dominating the country will make eastward progress a joke, for a while.

What impresses me about recent maps is how far out to sea the Pacific air has been driven. They even bothered to put in a snippet of warm front on the above, local, surface map, (about a third of the way to Hawaii,) to accent the contrast. You can see the clouds from there up to Alaska, marking the boundary.  Usually the Pacific storms come east as lovely, swirling features and crash into Vancouver and Seattle and Portland on the west coast, but we’ll have to wait for this pattern to change to see that.  For now the arctic is pouring south, and it means business.

Fortunately I’m several thousand miles east of its brunt.  This is especially true as we’ve been dealing with a “stomach ‘flu” among the children at our Childcare. It actually is a virus and has a name, but to me it is just “a twenty-four hour stomach bug.”  This is what we called it fifty years ago, and, as it is a virus, antibiotics are useless, and having an official scientific name is also useless, (until science comes up with a vaccine.)

In any case, we can’t afford to get sick, until the weekend. Then we have to get over it by Monday.  This is all well and good for me, as I don’t at all mind having an excuse to lie around and occasionally shuffle to my computer to see what is new on the web. However my wife has things to do and places to go and people to meet on the weekend, and consequently she never gets sick, but this morning was an exception to the rule.  She was much sicker than I, which is unheard of.

I actually pity any virus which is foolish enough to invade my body. My flesh is so loaded with horrible toxins from a misspent youth I figure the tiny creatures must have a terrible time of it, and feel even worse than I do.  I usually feel rotten, but can function.

Today we had plans to go visit our brand new granddaughter, but of course you can’t do that when infectious. There was also a local Christmas concert my wife adores she could not attend. Her mood was not good. I brought her ginger ale on ice and some pretzels, and cared for her chickens and rabbit, but didn’t really expect a parade for being good.  People who are sick are not good at “walking on the sunny side, the sunny side, the sunny side. Walking on the sunny side of life.”

Having my better side at her worst made the world look bleak, (though the outdoors was actually quite beautiful, as the snow fell so wet it was glued to the maple branches, pine boughs and deep-green hemlocks, and the increasingly cold breeze couldn’t dislodge it.) I rather listlessly shoveled the inch or so of snow from steps and walks,  thinking about getting old and mortality and other pleasant subjects, all the while feeling queasy but never truly sick enough to avoid annoying chores like taking the trash to the recycling center. I had no ambition to take on major jobs, such as building a warmer coop for the rooster, whose comb looks frostbit. (Not to mention the fact the fresh snow showed the prints of a fox who walked around and around the rooster’s coop, even digging fiercely at the frozen earth at the rear side.)  I just got by, doing the minimum, troubled by the sense that, while just-getting-by might be fine for summery days, it is downright dangerous as a northern winter bears down on you.

I really should be doing more. Modern youths have it much rougher than I did when I was their age, and with a new granddaughter I should be writing a million-seller to help out with finances, rather than pecking away at this weather-blog.  I should be writing the lyrics for hit songs, and composing fabulous sonnets. But how can you write a sonnet when, rather than artistic ecstasy, you basically feel queasy?  (I know many modern poets basically describe being queasy, but I don’t find such poetry all that poetic, and certainly not inspiring. And they sure don’t sell much of their poetry, that’s for sure.)

In any case, I trudged about the sunny, snow-brilliant landscape feeling pretty sorry for myself. At age sixty you sometimes wonder if you have what it takes any more.  You wonder as badly as an insecure adolescent.  Am I too this?  Am I too that? Am I too jaded? Am I too worn out? When you shiver in the wind, you wonder if you simply lack the testosterone to be hot blooded. The sun is shining, but is my eyesight too faded to see it? Am I too this? Am I too that?

Too old and too cold to go out and fight the battle that will never end? The war you can never win, for who can stop night from falling or winter from coming?

For what do we endure? For some it is to glean and hoard heaps of food and fine firewood so they can dodder and munch toothless, mean and miserly a midst youth’s poverty. Could I do that?

For others it is mostly a fear of freezing and dying that fuels hustle, which is to say they don’t advance, but steer away in cowed retreat.

Have I no muscle left? No will to stride? No itch to strive? Oh, yes I do, for I’m still alive.

(And as proof, I just wrote a hidden-sonnet despite being queasy.) (The rhyming words are fight, war, night, for, glean, wood, mean, could, fear, hustle, steer, muscle, strive and alive.)


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

It is fairly quiet up in the arctic, with the weakened remains of Morfisthird still milling around in the Barents Sea. Press and Tipson are stalled either side of Cape Farewell on the southern tip of Greenland, but Tipson is managing to kick a zipper east along its folded-over occlusion.  What a difference a few days makes! When Tip kicked Tipzip east, it exploded into a Baltic gale, (and still spins in Russia, as a weakening 994 mb low.) However when Tipson tries the same stunt, its zipper (which I suppose should be called “Tipsonzip”) doesn’t get all that big.

The main feature is the “Snout of Igor” pouring cold across into Canada.



UK Met Dec 8 10575034

You can see what I was talking about above: Press and Tipson either side of Cape Farewell, kicking a weak Tipsonzip under Iceland and north of Scotland, but Tipsonzip unable to emulate Tipzip, which remains as the weak low over Russia. Instead that weak low at the very bottom of the map, (“Mork,” which is short for Morocco,) is going to come straight north all the way to Iceland, attaching itself to Tipson’s cold front, and bringing a vast warm sector north from off Africa. It should be interesting to watch that warmth flood Europe.  Eventually I imagine some will effect the Barents Sea, but that’s a ways off.

LOCAL VIEW   —Zingson graying the day—

A start 4 satsfc (3)A start 4 rad_ec_640x480

It is interesting how they drew the map, with the front stalled way down in Florida and the cloud shield and snow way up in Ohio.  In any case, Zingson is headed up our way, to make Monday a mess. Basically the high pressure will retreat north and we will get the east winds on its underside, bringing in Atlantic moisture.

It was down to sixteen here last night, (minus ten Celsius,) but rose a degree by dawn, which was lovely, with the sun able to peek beneath the advancing cloud shield of thin cirrostratus, a milky haze made lemony by the sun, with just a hint of orange. Then the sun got above the clouds and swiftly everything became grey, with the sun a smear through the thin clouds, cirrostratus merging to altostratus.  A wintery look, perfect for singing Christmas carols in.


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

Morfisthird continues to mill around weakly in Barents Sea. Press and Tipson are still stalled, but Tipson has become a pretty impressive 964 mb gale, and is likely cramming the ice in Davis Strait against Greenland, away from Iceland, and making a rare “ice jam” unlikely until the next surge of ice comes south in several weeks.

The Snout of Igor continues to cross the Pole. I assume that small low off the north coast of Alaska is merely a ripple in that flow, a bit like Chet and Chet2. I’ll warch it it, but assume it will be swept south.

An interesting side-effect of this Snout of Igor pattern is that the Bering Strait has been slow to freeze up.

No sign of Mork coming up towards Iceland in this northern view.

FORKARMA DATA  —Milder south winds push us back north of 73 degrees north—

We have moved to  73.19 N, 12.93 W, with temperatures up to a milder -3.69 C.  Since yesterday we have moved 16.64 miles nearly straight north.  That’s got to make a mess of the ice further north that is coming south.

Let me check something. Hmm. Our companion buoy is now 234 miles north, having come nearly due south 7 miles as Forkarma headed roughly 17 miles nearly due north. Yes, I think I can hear the distant sound of crunching and grinding. Also it is much colder at the CB, with temperatures at -21.33 C.

Likely this crash-up is a brief oddity before Tipson’s east winds hit.


Perhaps the mild conditions effecting Forkarma has had some sort of beneficial effect on Forkuoy, because for the first time in seven days it reported its position.  It was only three reports, between 1800z yesterday and midnight today, but during those six hours it moved from 72.381°N,  9.087°W to 72.387°N,  9.128°W. That would be a movement west-northwest, and place it roughly 96 miles east-southeast of Forkarma.  No other information available.

LOCAL VIEW   —I hope the snow is staying south—

A start 5 satsfc (3)A start 5 rad_ec_640x480

I have to turn in, as snow would mean an early start to work tomorrow, but if you compare these maps with this morning’s, it looks like the cloud shield and snow has been pushed a little south of east, and may have trouble making it this far north.

As I go to sleep I’ll think about that warm front poking south from the Yukon. A cross-polar feature?


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

Morfisthird weakly persists in Barents Sea. Tipson remains strong west of Iceland, with Press to its west weaker and being consumed into its rotation, and an apendage forming to its east over Iceland.  (The weak Tipsonzip moved east and entered the Baltic Sea, remaining weak and not emulating Tipzip.)

Snout of Igor continues to cross Arctic to Canada.  Interesting contrast in very cold isotherms in the core of the cold and warmer isotherms towards Bering Strait.  I can envision it as a sort of front, with small impulses like Chet, Chet2, and the little low I noticed yesterday (Chet3) running along the flow from Siberia to Canada.  I’ve noticed each storm has hit the Canadian coast further west, and the last one was more in Alaska than Canada.  The same devision between very cold and moderately cold air can be seen coming down the Canadian Rockies in North America now. (Ryan Maue map from WeatherBELL) (Click twice to enlarge to full extent)

Temp Dec 9 gfs_t2m_noram_1

This is a truly meridianal flow, following lines of longitude rather than cycling around the globe along lines of latitude.

LOCAL VIEW  —The primer coat—

A start 6 satsfc (3)A Start 6 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

What is interesting to me about this map (due to my focus on the arctic) is that warm front extending down the Canadian Rockies right to the part of Montana that was minus forty two days ago.  Considering the Pacific air has been driven back more than half way to Hawaii, where did this warm front come from?  I think it actually traveled north all the way to the Bering Sea, around the top of that high in the Pacific, and down through western Alaska.  (This flow explains why the growth of sea ice in the Bering Strait is behind schedule.) It is Pacific air that has gone through a lot of cooling, as can be seen if you look at the North American temperature map just above this update.  The various pinks and pinkish-reds in that map represent air from freezing down to the mid teens.(zero to -9 Celsius.)  It is only a “warm” front because it is bumping up against air well below zero. (-15 Fahrenheit seems common; (-26 Celsius.) )

These two air masses are flowing in the same direction, and represent the arctic just pouring down into North America.  Running along the border between the cold air and the wicked cold air are little impulses which came across from Siberia and I called Chet, Chet2 and Chet3.  I figure Chet is that impulse sinking down over the Great lakes, Chet2 is up over Hudson Bay, and Chet3, which hit the Alaska coast further west, is further west in Canada, at the top of the warm front in the Canadian Rockies.  We are sort of getting bombarded by Chets from the north. (Usually our northern stream comes in from the Pacific, but right now it is straight south from the Arctic.)

I should state at this time that when I name these storms I largely do it for fun, with my tongue planted firmly in my cheek. I can imagine a scientist of the stricter and more humorless sort would be driven right up the wall by my complete lack of rules, regulations, restraint and discipline, when it comes to naming. However this is my blog and I’m the boss here.  Anyway, there are times a lack of restraint allows you the freedom to follow faint connections the rule-bound are forbidden to follow, and while such trailing of blind squirrels winds you out on a limb more often than it finds you the nut, sometimes it does find you the nut because the nut was growing out on a limb. (OK Enough metaphor-mixing for today.)

In any case, Chet began as an upper-air bowling ball over Mount Etna as the volcano erupted, creating beautiful pictures of fire falling with snow. Where a purist might have said the name died there as that occlusion filled and faded, I noticed it kick some junk east, as a slight ripple in the isobars that drifted away into the frozen steppes, sometimes strengthening a little and sometimes weakening, but mostly dry and likely fairly cloudless, as there was no source of moisture.  It crossed thousands of miles, unnoticed until it approached the Pacific, where it tapped into moisture and blew up into a tight little gale south of Korea.  Rather than heading east and becoming a typical Aleutian Low it got blocked, and stalled up the coast off Russia, and again stagnated into an occlusion that filled and faded, and again a purist would have stated the name died there. However again I noticed it was throwing off junk, (sort of like my old snow-blower throws off chunks of rubber as the fan-belt dissolves,)  and these globs of low pressure were coming north and crossing the Pole, and now are coming down to visit me personally. I am quite flattered, so of course I am not going to allow the name “Chet” to vanish.  Even if it was a 1015 mb dimple in the isobars swallowed up by a monster 940 mb gale, that gale would abruptly be named “Chet.”  (And don’t tell me that isn’t scientific.  Little things take over big things all the time. For example, how big are you, and how big is a virus?)

The weak low moving over us now, Zingson, will escape being named Chet by drifting away northeast, however a following low on the front will not be named either Zingthird or Rocky, as it forms and gives us more snow tomorrow.  (Rocky is too good a name to waste, so I’m just going to say he hangs back, as usually some low pressure does hang back.)

The original cold front that belonged to Press, and that Zing and Zingson formed on, can still be seen off the coast, but you will notice they drew in a new cold front down from Chet in the Great Lakes.  (That is cheating, but it is their map and they’re the boss there, just like I’m the boss here.) That front ends in the Gulf of Mexico at a low that some might call Rocky, and some might call Zingthird, and some might even dub Chetson, but I think the impulse that was Chet has such momentum he slid down the front and splashed into the gulf.  The low left behind up in the lakes will be Chetson.  Got that straight?

Back over north Texas and Oklahoma you can see a developing cloud shield at the end of a wispy Pacific jet. That’s coming east to be Chet’s hat.  However if you look further west along the Pacific jet you can see a bit of a storm off southern California.  Though the storm itself may occlude and hang around out there, it makes me nervous.  Those things can kick Pacific moisture east in the southern stream, and a small amount of that moisture can have a surprisingly large result, especially when it meets up with a very cold arctic blast, which I think may be coming from the very top of our map behind Chet3.  Not that it has a big likelihood of happening, but it they are a couple of features a bit like a teen-aged daughter and an unscrupulous charmer:  You wouldn’t want to see them get together over Cape Cod next weekend, (unless you are the charmer.)

Time to get back to work. We only got around two inches.  It is like a primer coat of paint.  It doesn’t fully cover everything, but it lays the foundation for a winter I suspect people will get very tired of.  At the moment, however, it makes everyone merry and Christmas-spirited.


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

Tipson remains strong east of Greenland and west of Iceland, but seems to be trying a second zipper along occlusion which is now swung around north of Iceland. If it grows we’ll dub it “Tipsonzip2.”) That front swings around and is now a warm front, being pushed west, by the surge of warmth coming north beside Mork, which is still off the map.

Morfisthird is fading in the Kara Sea, part of low pressure extending down to fading Tipzip and then fading Tipsonzip. Together they create a fridged east wind resisting Mork’s south wind.

The other interesting feature is yet another “Chet” crossing from Siberia to Canada.  This one is even further west, and I suppose it might get into the pacific south of Alaska.  What then? A gale center?  Too tired to think about this stuff.


UK Met Dec 9 10612325

I guess Mork is that little low where Tipson’s curved front turns from a warm front back to a cold front, south of Iceland.  Not much of a low, but what a warm flow to Mork’s eastall the way up to the coast of Norway, where it meets the Siberian air coming down behind Tipzip and Tipsonzip.  I can’t see how you can mix those two air masses together without getting a big storm somewhere.

LOCAL VIEW   —A map to remember—

A start 7 satsfc (3)

I’m too tired from shoveling snow to study this map, but it does seem to raining Chets from the north.  I’m just saving this map because this is an odd pattern worth remembering. I’d say ominous stuff, and get you all excited, but I’m so sleepy I’m not sure I’m seeing what I think I’m seeing.


DMI Dec 10 pressure mslp_latest.bigtDMI Dec 10 mp_latest.big (1)

(Will comment later)

LOCAL VIEW   —A groggy and grey—

A start 8 satsfc (3)A start 8 rad_ec_640x480

(Hope to find time to comment later) (Water heater broken, and son coming home from college this afternoon. I don’t think he can withstand cold showers. I’m hoping I can just replace the thermocoupling.)


UK Met Dec 10 10623402

(Hope to comment later)


And life is good.  It sure saves money when you fix things yourself.  (Unless, of course, the house explodes this evening.) Now I have all of fifteen minutes before an afternoon shift, and then there’s choir practice for the Christmas cantata, but after that I’ll catch up on the maps.


Our site has drifted to  73.09 N, 14.01 W,  22.24 miles west-southwest of where we were two days ago.  Our CB (Companion Buoy) has drifted from 76.531°N,  10.457°W to 76.313°N, 11.127°W in the past two days, moving southwest.  (Though their vectors still collide, the collision is no longer headlong.)  The ice must be crunching up against the shores of Greenland, with all the westward movement.

The Forkarma is colder, down to  -10.57°C .  The CB saw quite a warm-up yesterday, with temperatures all the way up to -2.8°C, but are colder now at -8.7°C.


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

I’m pretty tired, and can only briefly comment that this pattern looks very off balance.  Likely it will fall down, and start over.  The question is, what form will the “fall down” take?  Right now it looks like a large amount of the Pole will be unloaded down into North America, (which may explain the surge up into the Pole that looks like it is happening over Europe.)

I’d say it is a time for surprises.  When things stray this far from the norm you don’t really have many examples from the past to look at.

LOCAL VIEW   —The cold finally makes it east—

We got around an inch and a half in a burst this afternoon, and since then it has been much colder, dropping from 35 around two to 17 at eight.  Now I need to turn in, but I’ll save a map to look at later, hopefully tomorrow.

A start 9 satsfc (3)

DECEMBER 11  —DMI MORNING MAPS—  Rare blue-eyed-Igor-seen over Pole

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

That is a mighty strong high pressure system north of Alaska, and while its Asian (west) side is pulling some milder, Pacific air in along the east Siberian coast, its other side is sucking air directly off Canada and down into Canada. The next Chet-like blob of low pressure, (remains of Tipzip?) now appearing on the Siberian coast south of the New Siberian Islands, cannot move towards Alaska like the last one, with that enormous high in the way, and will be instead swung right over the  Pole.  It will briefly interupt the cross-polar flow, however, as it is in some ways is a cork bobbing along in the flow, it will not end the flow, and once it reaches Canada its back-side winds will likely increase the flow further.

I am going to call the low off the northeast tip of Norway “Mork” although the genesis of the lows up the frontal boundary between Greenland air and African air rushing up towards Europe has been wonderfully complex.  I see all that air as gasoline heading for Barents Sea, and expect Mork to explode up there.

(By the way, I am always plugging the WeatherBELL site due to Ryan Maue’s supurb maps, and the wonderful analysis you get from Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo. Today Joe Bastardi has a video that explains some of the reasons why storms vanish from one part of a map and reform at other parts. In a sense it shows why my way of “tracking” features is loaded with flaws.  Often it is not the features that move the isobars, but rather the isobars that move the features.  It is likely wiser to study what goes into pressure-rises and pressure-falls, and to pay less attention to the features themselves.  However I am able to be unwise, for I am more of an observer than a forecaster, and also I think you do learn by simply watching the features. (And also I get a chuckle or two out of naming everything in sight.) )

It is currently quiet off the east coast of Greenland as Tipson weakens along with the absorbed remnants of Press, and his last-gasp zipper Tipsonzip2 is absorbed by Mork. However this will likely change swiftly as the energy from  the various ways coming up Press’s front, (Zing, Zingson and Chet,) combine into the typical monster low.

For the moment I am more interested in what happens to Mork, up in Barents Sea.


(Click map to enlarge)

UK Met Dec 11 10650360

I notice the European forecasters are more focused on the high pressure than Mork, which makes sense as Mork has been a mere ripple on a front that was originally Tipson’s cold front.  However the warm flow has been the interesting feature, which is neither the low nor the high.  (The new low moving north off Spain will be “Morkson.”) (The low developing off Newfoundland will be “Chet.”)

The above freezing temperatures have made it all the way up into Finland, but to the east lurks Siberian cold.  (In England they must be wondering if they’ll have a green Christmas.) The contrast is clear in the temperature map.  (GFS Data; Ryan Maue map.)

UK Met Dec 11 gfs_t2m_eur_1

The upper air ridge over Europe is impressive:  (GFS Data; Ryan Maue map.)

UK Met Dec 11 gfs_z500_sig_eur_1

LOCAL VIEW  — In Igor’s gun-sights —

What goes up must come down, and with the rush of warmer air north in Europe the colder air comes down over Canada.  We’ve been lucky the last week, as a lot of that cold slammed clear down to Arizona, and I don’t much mind arctic air that visits us via Arizona.  However, with the northern Canadian lakes frozen over and Hudson Bay frozen except for James Bay, we are less protected from the blasts coming straight towards us.  The current map looks like it is taking aim on New Hampshire. You can follow the 1020 mb isobar northfrom my back pasture  clear up to the arctic, and off the map it goes right to the North Pole.

A start 10 satsfc (3).

Even with fresh snow it didn’t get too terribly cold last night, for us. It was down to 14, (-11 Celsius.)  Likely it was due to clouds and and a further half-inch dusting we got as I snored.  Today is bright and sunny, with temperatures bouncing back nicely, to the mid-twenties. However I glance at the map and see that bit of a cold front to our northwest, and know it will just get colder. (click to enlarge.)

A start 10 gfs_t2m_noram_1

As I looked around this morning I suddenly realized I was in winter mode.  We haven’t had that much snow, but our world’s gone white.


I’ll stick in Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL maps of the initial data of the Canadian Global Model’s 1200z run: (Clock twice to fully expand.)

DMI Dec 11B cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 11B cmc_t2m_arctic_1

Mork has blown up into a powerful 963 mb gale north of Norway, and is likely tearing up all the baby ice in Barents Sea and crushing it towards Fram Strait.  I’m expecting a dip in ice extent in Barents sea and another bulge to come south along the east coast of Greenland.

The next cross-polar “Chet” low, ( which I have decided is what remains of Tipzip, and therefore to call Topzip.) (Some of Morfisthird may have bled into it, but a tiny low over the Kara sea, north of Tipsonzip inland to its south, holds the rest of Morfisthird.) Tipzip might be slightly strengthened by some Pacific air working west along the arctic coast from Bering Strait, before crossing to Canada.

(Joe Bastardi noticed this same cross-polar feature and and wrote about the cold air it might deliver to North America, on his blog today. Currently long-range models suggest the arctic blast (still a week away)  will again plunge to Texas, and spare me here in the east, but Joe suggests it may spread out more and effect the east.)

The temperature map shows the cross-polar-flow and the very cold air in Siberia quite clearly.

LOCAL VIEW   —Cold with dusting of snow—

I had to go take a class the State of New Hampshire requires “Childcare Providers” to take tonight, so I can’t comment much.  Even though the cold night was starry with a bright moon, a dust of snow was falling, I think blown from the Great Lakes ahead of a reinforcing shot of arctic air shown by the cold front on the map.  Fifteen degrees on my back porch, at ten o’clock.  (You can see the Pacific moisture streaming in over Mexico to Texas, which is the beginnings of our next storm, which might as well be called “Rocky” as it is scooping up the left-behind low pressure. It may hit us on the weekend.)

A start 12 satsfc (3)


DMI Dec 12 pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 12 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

Mork is blowing up to a 957 mb gale north of Norway, as Chet blows up into a 956 mb gale south of Greenland.  Despite these powers the warm high remains stubborn over western Europe, lifting Morkson west of Ireland. Nothing wants to move west to east. This is about as far from a zonal pattern as I can recall seeing.  Bookmark it as an example of what Dr. Tim Ball calls a “meridianal” pattern, and I call “loopy.”

Tipzip is just starting his cross-polar jaunt north of central Siberia.

Polar temperatures remain above average because any cold imported from Siberia is promptly exported into Canada.

Both the Barents and Bering Sea have below normal ice, which will allow both Pacific and Atlantic water entering the pole a greater surface area and greater cooling, before the entrance currents duck under the shelter of ice. My guess is that this argues for cooler water up at the Pole next summer.

The only thing that may make the arctic water warmer is that the ice is thicker, and less likely to be busted up by midwinter gales. Last February a big gale busted up the ice in the Beaufort Gyre at the very time the air was down below normal, at minus forty, and even though the exposed waters froze over swiftly it seems likely the exposure greatly added to the cooling of the waters beneath the ice.

LOCAL VIEW  —Goldilocks snows—

We got a half-inch of powder last night, which is just enough to give me some extra work before I open the Childcare.  It’s not enough to use the snow-blower, so I have to resort to brooms and shovels, in a pre-sunrise chill of seven degrees.  Also I have to spread sand on the drive where cars enter, which is a climbing curve, and I have learned sleepy parents dealing with sleepy kids need all the help they can get negotiating curves.

I was feeling pretty sorry for myself, until I looked around and realized how pretty every thing looked. Then it occurred to me I had it good.  In England they have no snow for Christmas, while west of here it is dangerously cold and in some places the lake-effect snows are mounting up and measured in feet rather than inches.

Suddenly seven degrees didn’t seem that cold. I noticed it isn’t quite cold enough to freeze the hairs inside my nostrils.  So maybe I should quit feeling so sorry for myself.  It isn’t too cold, and isn’t too warm. It is just right, Goldilocks snows.

A rocky 1 satsfc (3)

Rocky is just moving into the pan handle of northern Texas, with some Pacific air steaming up into him. He is suppose to get here late on Saturday.  It doesn’t look like he has much moisture to feed off, but as he nears the Atlantic he’ll feed off that, and may bomb out a bit right off shore from me, kicking back six inches of snow or so.

The weak low up in the Gulf of Alaska may be part of Chet 4, which crossed the Pole to the west. The rest of the impulse is moving down the arctic front like a wave shaken into a schoolgirl’s slack jump-rope,  adding a northern branch energy to Rocky.

Now is when the true weathermen step foreward, because it makes a huge difference how the northern and southern branch mesh together.  Sometimes the branches fight each other and sometimes they “phase.”  I’m not going to try to figure out Rocky.  Or…well, sometimes it is fun to guess, however once the features are in place I sometimes like to shut up and listen to the real experts. (And I’m not talking about the guys who only look at the read-outs from various computer models. Even I can do that. I’m talking about the guys who can look at the maps and make a highly educated guess even if all the computers crashed.)

I notice the Pacific air has finally made it back to the Pacific coast, south of that Gulf of Alaska low.  Maybe things are shifting to the east a little?


UK Met Dec 12 10673616

I just wanted to see how strong the high is over Europe, and whether Mork bombing out in the north was sweeping cold air south.  So far the only polar push-back is way up in the northern half of Scandinavia.  The upper-air ridge is only going to budge to the east in a very slow way.


DMI Dec 12B cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 12B cmc_t2m_arctic_1

Denmark better had shape up its site, for I’m getting fond of Dr. Maue’s maps at WeatherBELL. I like the Danish maps because they simplify.  Give me too much detail and I get lost in interesting sidetracks.  Ryan Maue’s great maps can make me late to steak dinners. However I notice some data smudge is now occurring on the Canadian model temperature map. (I don’t want to switch to GFS as their maps are wrong side up, with Greenland on the top.)  I guess it just goes to show you the dark days effect all people in northern lands, even computer programmers.

Chet has become a huge 946 mb storm south of Greenland. Any ice south of Denmark Strait is being piled up on Greenland’s east coast.

Mork has churned right across Barents Sea as a 958 gale.  In front very cold Siberian air is being sucked off the mainland towards the Pole, but behind not much air is coming south to Scandinavia yet. Morkson messes up the flow, as a weaker 985 mb low east of southern Norway. Mork will pivot Morkson east through Scandinavia, bringing them colder air, but maritime polar air and not the brutal Siberian stuff.  To the South the big high over Europe is hanging tough.

Tipzip is venturing across the Pole, and the break in the cross-polar-flow can be seen in the isotherms, yet the temporary nature of this break can be seen in the isobars on the Bering Strait side of Tipzip.  Despite a crimp they have already healed the break and pretty much are resuming the flow from Siberia to Canada.

So I am expecting a break in our cold here, in five or so days, but for that break to be short.


UK Met Dec 12B 10686247

Mork just off map top center. Morkson off Norway. Chet south of Greenland.  Tough High Pressure standing strong over Alps. Personally I’m watching for a low over Ireland, where it looks like a Morkthird is trying to grow, and also a Chetzip is trying to cross.  Also beneath Chet a strong flow from the west looks like it is trying to replace the strong flow from the south. Will it cross the Atlantic, or will the south flow halt it?  Stay tuned!

LOCAL VIEW  —Below zero tonight?—

A cold day made bearable by dropping winds and brilliant sunshine. I noticed my goats didn’t head out to browze on twigs much, prefering to stick with munching boring hay in a sunny place between the barn and shed, out of the wind.  It didn’t make it up to twenty up in our hills, though I noticed in the Merrimack River Valley cities like Concord, Manchester and Nashua did get just over twenty.  I forgot to reset our ancient, high-low thermometer so I know yesterday’s high was 26, but can only guess today’s was around 17.  (-8 Celsius.)  Now, at ten o’clock at night, it is down to 4.  (-16 Celsius.) That’s got my attention. I’ll leave the kitchen fausett dripping tonight, so the old pipes don’t freeze.

Went out to see my oldest grandchild in a performance of “Charlie Brown’s Christmas” tonight.  My wife had to twist my arm a little, as watching a bunch of twelve-year-old’s forget their lines isn’t my idea of high art.  However it was worth it, as the kids were not all that mortified about blowing their lines.  I suppose that is one good thing about modern kids having no shame.

I was struck by how dated Charlie Brown and the characters in “Peanuts” seem, in terms of Political Correctness. (Lucy is a bully and likely would be medicated.) And when Linus stood up and quoted the passage from Luke the auditorium became very quiet. I wondered if people were made awkward by the in-your-face, reason-for-the-season Christianity, and then was surprised by a crash of applause when the boy was finished.  Sometimes I think I don’t get out enough, and don’t really understand what young parents are thinking these days.

The snow was squeaky underfoot, and that’s a sure sign of true cold.  I was late letting the goats in, and they only one gave me the slightest bit of trouble about coming in.  I think that one just likes bright moonlight on snow.

A rocky 2 satsfc (3)

The map-maker’s messing with the fronts again.  To get a true picture of the arctic invasion the cold front across Florida to northern Yucatan needs to be extended as a stationary front across the Bay of Campeche (southernmost Gulf of Mexico,) and then curve north as a warm front inland in Mexico up to where Rocky is developing in west Texas, and from there north to where Chet4 is coming southeast in Montana.  That would neatly outline the huge high pressure sitting over the USA, imported from Siberia.

However perhaps they felt they needed to outline the boundary between the current high pressure and the next one, already bulging down from Canada.  That has some truely nasty cold at its core, down near minus forty and not likely to warm much coming south across snow, (though notice the northern lakes can still warm air right through their thin ice-cover.)  (Double click map to fully enlarge)

A rocky 2 gfs_t2m_noram_1

This the map Ryan Maue creates out of the GFS computer data.  (The 0000z run is midnight in England, and six PM here.) The GFS does all right with the initial run. After all, that predicts current weather. But it doesn’t seem to handle low-level cold air very well.  At the WeatherBELL site you can see a map of the 2 meter temperatures at six hour intervals, map after map after map, all the way out to 384 hours.  I decided to look  six hours ahead, which would be midnight my time.  It shows temperatures in the low teens here. Considering it is already down to 4 degrees, I think the forecast will be a bust.  In the same way, it is likely to underestimate the severity of the coming cold.

An interesting detail in the map above the above temperature map is the weak low pressure shown in southern Canada norwest of me.  It even has a stub of a warm front, though, as I am south of that front and it is only 4 degrees here, you know that warm front is only reletively warm.  However the interesting thing about that little storm is that I think it is largely created by the air rising from the warm waters of the Great Lakes. (The water is chilling swiftly, but still is above 40 in many places.) When air lifts it creates suction beneath, which drops the barometer, which alters the isobars, which alters the winds. There are times, before the lakes freeze (if they freeze at all; some winters they don’t,) that a weak front can get stronger, or a weak low get vigorous, simply due to these lakes and without any outside influence.

In any case, this is one heck of a cold-looking map. Our snow-loving friends in Europe must be green with envy, but I’m blue with cold, just thinking about tomorrow morning.  I’ve got to re-load the porch with firewood for when Rocky gets here on Saturday, and clean out the wood stoves both here and at the farm, and ready our coal stove for possible sub-zero blasts after Rocky, and put up heat-lamps for the goats and also the plumbing of the old farm-house.  To be frank, for a while I’m not the one in control of my life; the weather is.

DECEMBER 13  —Still no DMI—  —More Maue maps—

DMI Dec 13 pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 13 cmc_t2m_arctic_1

Too busy. Will comment later.

UK Met map

UK Met Dec 13 10698716

Snow off map in middle east, as warmth starts to surge east into the Steppes.  They will get a break from winter, which they deserve, after last year. Second half of winter may be harsher.

Things are roughly the same, though shifted east. Scandinavia cooler with Morkson across and into Baltic.

LOCAL VIEW  —The before storm rush—

It never got any colder last night than the 4 degrees I noted at ten o’clock. Clouds came over from the Great lakes, and by sunrise we were actually getting “lake effect” snow, 500 miles from Lake Ontario. It was only the lightest dust, and the sky looked the palest blue, and the sun a bright smudge.  It warmed from 6 degrees at dawn-dusk to 15 at 8:30,  so perhaps that warm front on last night’s map deserved more respect than I gave it. However it is only 19, now at 10:30.

We are suppose to get a foot of snow from Rocky tomorrow night, so everyone is in a hurry today.  Rocky’s cloud shield is obvious on the map, but they haven’t drawn in any fronts yet.

A rocky 3 satsfc (3)


An interesting article caught my eye over at WUWT regarding the number of arctic storms. Considering we’ve been giving them ridiculous names for some time now, followers of this site are amateur experts on such storms, and likely are as fascinated as I am by the effect they have on the extent of sea-ice, the water temperature, the AMO and PDO, and weather further south.  During my free time (HA!) my free time I’ve been working on a hunch I have; I suppose you could call it a theory but mostly it is observations rather than the sort of science that involves difficult stuff like addition.

The comments I made at WUWT give a preview of the theory.  (The WUWT article is at


  1. Caleb says:

    “When a cyclone goes over water, it mixes the water up. In the tropical latitudes, surface water is warm, and hurricanes churn cold water from the deep up to the surface. In the Arctic, it’s the exact opposite: there’s warmer water below, and the cyclone churns that warm water up to the surface, so the ice melts.”

    It is much more subtle and complex than this statement suggests. There is not an unlimited amount of warm water to churn up. Once it is mixed up, a totally new sort of fluid-dynamics comes into play.

    Think to yourself, “How the heck can warm water be under cold water? Doesn’t the warm water rise and the cold water sink?” The answer is “Yes, but water also layers itself in terms of salinity, so salty water sinks and fresh water rises.”

    Only when the water is still and untroubled, (as it is when protected by ice,) can you get these delicate balances between salinity and temperature that allow warm water to build up below cold water, and boundaries such as the thermocline and pycnocline to be stable. The water slides in layers like shuffled cards. Once the ice is gone, it is like someone played 52-pick-up with the cards, and flung them in the air. “Churned up” barely describes the complete derangement that occurs to the system.

    And the result? The warm AMO switches over to the cold AMO, and a period of low-ice-extent gives way to a period of high-ice-extent. It seemingly takes roughly thirty years to swing from one extreme to the other, and thirty years to swing back again.

    I think the study of these arctic systems is quite valuable, in terms of being able to plan on (or make educated guesses at) the future warmth available for northern lands. (IE: Are we heading for a MWP or a LIA?) Unfortunately this study got all mixed up with the Global Warming balderdash. When the backlash against Global Warming rises, I fear the baby will get thrown out with the bathwater, and these arctic studies will get the ax.


    1.  Jake2 says:
    2. If we get these regularly, the arctic ice is going to be in poor shape.

       Caleb says:
    3. RE: Jake2 says:
      December 13, 2013 at 1:58 am

      The study suggests that in fact we do get such storms regularly. In fact we got at least two such polar gales last summer, but the ice didn’t melt nearly as much. Why not? I assume it is because the water beneath the ice was not nearly as warm in August 2013 as it was in August 2012. (This would also explain why the air temperatures north of eighty degrees were cooler as well.)

      What people fail to factor in is that once the water is “churned up,” there no longer is any warm water left below to churn up. Melting all that ice used up the heat, and the entire column of water is cooled. Further storms churn up cooler water, and the ice cannot melt to the same degree. Storms can smash up the ice, but this tends to pile the ice up more thickly in some areas while leaving patches of cooler open water between, which loses more heat and also forms new ice more quickly, once the sun sets in September.

      In terms of “volume,” the big storm of August, 2012 likely reduced volume, but the storms of 2013 likely saw volume remain roughly the same (or reduce only a little,) even though “extent” dipped.

      Last summer’s storms, and the failures of the smashed up bergs to melt, were real eye-openers to Alarmists and Skeptics alike, due to the fact the ice seemingly began the summer “in poor shape.” Not only was there a lot of “baby ice” due to the low extent of the prior summer, but that ice got smashed up by a gale in February, and wide leads were covered by ice even thinner than baby-ice, as it was formed after the February gale, in the brief tail-end of winter. Alarmists were licking their chops in anticipation of all this thin ice melting more swiftly than ice of more normal thickness, but it simply refused to do so. I confess I was amazed by how stubborn the ice proved to be. The only explanation that makes much sense to me is that the water under the ice was colder, due to being “churned up.”

      I think most of the melting at the Pole comes from beneath, and is due to the mysteries surrounding dramatic shifts in the northern tendrils of the Gulf Stream, which somehow relates to the warm and cold phases of the AMO. Please send me money in a brown paper bag so I can study this fascinating mystery further. (I have a rough idea of what is happening, but the devil is in the details.)


      DMI Dec 14 pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 14 temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1


      I’ve been busy, and now when I play catch-up I look at the maps and am somewhat amazed how swiftly things change. It looks like Mork and Morkson have combined, moving inland off the Arctic Sea, but still raking Barents Sea with strong northeast winds.  Beneath them westerly winds are poring milder air over the Steppes, and western Siberia is milder than usual, however is doing what Siberia does, which is to take air and steadily, day by day, make it colder and colder.  The colder air in eastern Siberia is pouring out over the Pole, steered across to Canada by Tipzip, now straddling the Pole. The coldest air in the north is now on the Canadian side.(I notice a -59 F over eastern Northwest Territories.)

      In the Atlantic it is hard to say what is what. I assume Chet hung back and occluded south of Greenland. Morkthird/Chetzip moved up to Iceland. A new low in the west flow beneath Chet , “Chetson,”  is just outside the circle approaching Ireland and Great Britain.

      South of Alaska the low Chet 4 is just milling about, but pushing some Pacific air inland in North America, where it has been absent for a while.


      The sensationalist media is seemingly trying to make a four inch snowfall into a major blizzard. “If it bleeds it leads.”  I saw a headline, “110 million effected by hazardous travel!”  Well, as a 110 millionth I am not worried all that much.  It is winter. It snows. (click maps to enlarge)

      A rocky 5 satsfc (3)A rocky 5 rad_ec_640x480

      The old arctic front is still a ghost front across Florida (though they don’t draw it in.) They do draw in a little bit of a warm front and cold front in east Texas, where Rockson is lurking in the lee of Rocky, waiting to come east and up the coast tonight.

      More professional forecasters describe Rocky as an upper air low moving into the new arctic boundary,  and speak of energy swinging around the back-side (Chet 4’s other piece?)  That energy will cause the development of the secondary off the coast tonight.  While the development isn’t forecast to be as explosive as some storms, (so called “bombo-genesis,:) the coastal low on the GFS model drops from 1008 to 996 mb by Sunday morning, when we are likely to be getting heavy snow.


      Camel in snow Picture-22-2923462

      (By the way, don’t be fooled (as I was) by this photo-shopped fake picture of the pyramids in snow.  Well done, but who needs fakery when reality is so wonderfully odd?)

      Pyramid in snow faked me52ac506f

      I suppose this is what happens when really cold Siberian air tries to back west into Scandinavia, and is thwarted by the vigorous southwest flow of of a huge high pressure system. It has to go somewhere, so some heads north into the Arctic Sea, and some is simply rotated around the same high that made England balmy, and makes Bethlehem look like a Christmas card. But I’m praying for the poor refugees in camps in Syria; this is no time to be in a tent.

      QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET —The big high pressure starts to fade—

      UK Met Dec 14 10734290

      Although the upper air ridge is still putting up a fight, centered roughly from Greece up to Sweden, the onslaught of west winds from the Atlantic has eroded the western side, dimpling the 500 mb isobars with each cold front’s presence.  The west side of the ridge seems to be flattening out and becoming less dramatic, however the east side of the ridge is still pretty darn impressive in how far it digs and even cuts backwards a bit as a trough over the middle east.

      Chet is falling apart as it does one of those odd “morphistication” trips, over the southern icecap of Greenland.  Chetzip/Morkthird has moved north of Iceland to the east coast of Greenland, and looks ready to take up Chet’s energy that survives the ice-cap transit. (If a new now bombs out there I’m just going to call it Chet, and the heck with the complexity of all the other ingredients.)

      A pretty strong flow of westerlies is developing across the Atlantic, which has been rare this autumn, with the pattern so loopy.  We’ll see how long it lasts. Chetson is racing across and now involves that nest of fronts approaching Scotland, while Chetthird is racing across in its wake, though further south.

      Everything is relative. The “warm” air flooding east across the Steppes and southwestern Siberia is colder than the “cold” air shocking the Middle East.


      DMI Dec 14B pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 14B temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

      (These cool maps are Dr. Ryan Maue’s creation from data out of the Canadian model You can get a free week’s trial over at WeatherBELL, but I warn you that it is like a free week’s trial of heroin. There are thousands of maps in all. If you like maps more than numbers you will be like a kid in a candy shop.)

      It looks like a lot of the arctic air has been exported from Eurasia into Canada, and Alaska.  I notice some new and nasty cold on the Alaska north coast, with a -56 reported.  Tipzip is steering a lot of this across on the Bering Strait side, even as Tipzip seems to be getting sucked away from the Pole (the polar vortex is actually over the Pole for a change) into that mess of mophistication over and around Greenland.  I count fifteen lows in all, around Greenland, and if you think I am going to name them all, you’ve got another thing coming.  For crying out aloud!  It’s the weekend!  I’m suppose to be resting!

      It is interesting how the flow is strongly west to east south of Greenland and Iceland, does a sharp left turn at the British Isles, and is strongly north to south west of Scandinavia.  East of Scandinavia the flow plunges back south all the way down to the Middle East, but if you go further east to the other side of the elongated Mork/Morkson system (remember when it was west of Morroco?) you can see the mild flood up into the Steppes. (Mild being only “slightly” below freezing.)

      There is something peculiar about this flood, which may be in some way related to a “stratospheric warming event” which is developing far overhead, extending down to the east coast of China.  Such events are often indicative of arctic outbreaks, but, considering the arctic is already breaking, and also considering it isn’t even winter yet, who knows what this one is indicating, if it fully develops?

      Below is Ryan Maue’s map of the 500 mb level of the arctic, from GFS data, with above-normal pressures in red and below-normal in blue. Unfortunately GFS insists on having everything upside down, (Greenland and Scandinavia are at the top, Bering Straits at the bottom.)  In any case, you can see the ridge that has been effecting Europe and the Middle East at the top, and the odd Siberian upper-air flow in the lower left.  Don’t ask me what to make of it; I’m just observing. (Click Maue Maps twice to fully enlarge)

      DMI Dec 14 gfs_z500_sig_arctic_1

      A LOCAL VIEW   —First big snow is swirling outside—

      (Click maps to enlarge.)

      A rocky 7 satsfc (3)A rocky 7 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

      We almost made it through a daylight without snow today, as the the sun shone dimly through a sky of bad milk, gone grayish. The cold was fierce, as it never made it up to twenty.  (My back porch thermometer recorded a low last night of 5 and a high today of 15; (-15 to -9.4 Celsius.) I was done rushing, having done that yesterday (when we snow all day, from the Great Lakes, amounting to only a tenth of an inch.)  I just did my ordinary Saturday chores, fitting in a few relaxed activities such as a morning men’s breakfast at a church down in Massachusetts, and also picking up two Christmas Trees for thirty dollars apiece.  (Trees cost a hundred down in Boston, but they don’t dare charge that up here, where people can still walk into the woods and cut one.) I set up one tree at home, and on at the Childcare.  Now both places are made delectable with the aroma of Balsam Fir.

      Again it was easy getting the goats in to their stalls, for they sensed it was no night to stay out, for by then a bitter cold snow had started drifting down as the sun disappeared into deepening greyness, swiftly turning to charcoal darkness before four, as we are at the earliest sunsets of the year. (One mystery I have never understood is why the earliest sunsets occur so long before the latest sunrises.)

      My old bones are now telling me pressures are starting to fall, as the arctic push is followed, as had been the case all autumn in the east of the USA, by a counter attack from the south.  Ar noon that ghost front, ignored across Florida on morning maps, reappeared as a warm front pushing north from southern Alabama through central Georgia and then up the Carolina coasts and out to sea at Cape Hatteras. The above evening map shows it all the way up to Maryland, and latest data shows temperatures up to 54 in Cape May, New Jersy, however north of there is a brick wall of cold.  Temperatures in both Montreal and Halifax are only 3 degrees, and my back porch themometer shows no northward rush of warm air, for temperatures have fallen to 11 degrees.  Even down in Hamden, just north of NewHaven on Long Island Sound, temperatures are at 17, but just across the Sound on Long Island temperatures are in the 40’s.   And just sixty miles from my back porch temperatures in Boston are twenty degrees warmer, at 31.

      The map shows Rocky undergoing the process I call “morphistication,” when it happens up in Greenland. He is shrinking in Ohio even as he reappears over Maryland. (“Beam me up, Scottie.”)

      This is one time it seems unwise to think of storms as entities, as balls rolling through the atmosphere, for the isobars are changing in a way too fast and fluid for such comparisons.  However I think computer models may be betraying a bias towards the rolling-ball mentality, for they show the new Rocky moving north as if the wall of arctic air didn’t exit straight ahead.

      What might happen instead is Rocky will continue to “redevelop” along the boundary between stubborn, entrenched arctic air. Just as he shrunk over Ohio he can shrink over Maryland, and just as he reappeared over Maryland he can reappear east of Boston. (Current models show him going west of Boston and over me.)

      Long-time observers of New England weather have seen many forecasts made to look foolish by the abrupt appearance of a so-called “coastal front.”

      Rather than swinging to the south winds just inland from the coast remain stubbornly from the north, and do so to a degree where it creates a sort of notch in the isobars, and the nor’easter is swerved by the notched isobars.

      On the radar map you can see a “snow hole” southwest of me down in Connecticut.  When snow ceases it often is indicative of air that is not rising and building clouds and snow, but rather sinking and creating a local zone of higher pressure.  Higher pressure situated there would shunt the storm east, and force forecasters to scurry about adjusting forecasts.

      I sure am glad I don’t forecast, and merely observe.

      LOCAL VIEW  — The advent is over—

       “And so it begins…”

      To go look at my back porch thermometer I had to shovel a path through ten inches of dry but dence snow.  It only made it up to 16 degrees.  So much for the warm air pushing this far north. It looks like Rocky got shunted over to the coastline.

      A rocky 8 satsfc (3)A rocky 8 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

      Before I close down this post and start the next, I should point out what is coming down the arctic front in the lee of the Canadian Rockies.  That clipper seems to have a fair amount of Pacific moisture inserted, swirled east under the Chet 4 remnant that has been stalled in the Gulf of Alaska.  I think it may also have gained some subtle push from Tipzip colliding with the Arctic coast after its cross-polar jaunt.  Therefore I am going to name this new clipper, “Tipzipclip.”  (If you don’t like it, please feel free to suggest a better name in the comments.)

      Sunset today is at 4:12 PM in Boston, which is as early as it gets.  By Tuesday it will be setting at  4:13, (although the shortest day is still a week away, and the latest sunrise is not until around Jan 4.) So in a manner of speaking you could say light is returning, and advent is over.  (Also the wait for my granddaughter to be born is over as well.)

      Also the wait for Hudson Bay to freeze over is nearly over.  Though that big bay will continue to warm through the thin ice, its ability to warm air, generate moisture, and steer storms is greatly reduced, and we are increasingly open to the most frigid “Montreal Express” north winds.  Although the advent is over, the battle has just begun.

      Extent Dec 15 arcticicennowcast (1)

      Notice how both entrance regions to the Arctic Sea, the Bering Strait and Barents Sea, remain open, which prevents stratification of the water and promotes deeper mixing.  My guess is that the water in the Arctic Sea is made colder by this process, and we’ll see the effects of this during the melt next summer.  However there sure is no melting occurring now, and the area of ice has doubled in size since September.

      Also notice the ice has been pushed away from Iceland west into the coast of Greenland. Likely that ice is condenced and thick. And that reminds me: I have neglected to report on the doings of the iceberg which once held our North Pole Camera. I’ll have to do that, before I close down this post and begin the next one.


      Our poor, battered Forkuoy still occasionally admits its location, admist its garbled data. At midnight on Dec 8 it was at 72.387°N,  9.128°W, and at midnight on the 13th it was at 72.412°N, 10.606°W. (During that week it stopped and briefly moved back north, just as Forkarma did.)  Total movement was 31.06 miles to the southwest, which is surprising, as earlier we were moving that distance in a single day.

      Early on the 13th our Forkarma was at 72.60 N, 14.48 W  (no time stamp available) which places it 82 miles from the Forkuoy it once sat 300 yards away from.  They are at roughly the same latitude, but the Forkarma has been crushed much farther west.  Temperatures were at -11.42 C at the Forkarma on the 13th, and then nearly broke the freezing mark  on the 14th, with temperatures up to -0.91 C.

      Today our Forkarma is at 72.64 N, 15.06 W, with temperatures back down to -6.49 C.  A slight drift back to the east has ended, and we are now across 15 degrees longitude. Movement in the past few days has been 12.34 miles to the south-southwest.

      Although the ice has “thinned” down in Denmark Strait, where we are headed, it likely is in fact thicker and just packed more closely to shore.  I’m wondering if the crunch against the shore might be slowing our movement. Time will tell.

      I think I’ll end this post with a picture from Istamble Turkey of a snow-covered mosque.  It is such a lovely sight one could even believe peace on earth was a possibility, and religions could actually co-exist.

      But lets see if my hopeful attitude holds, as I go spend the rest of my day shoveling and snow-blowing.  I wonder if I’ll still be calling the snow “lovely.”

      This post will be continued at

      Turkey snow BbNoTQjIYAAQKRt_jpg_large