ARCTIC SEA ICE RECOVERY — THE DARKEST DAYS

This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was, https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/12/02/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-advent/

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.

QUICK LOOK AT UK MET  

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

FORKARMA DATA

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.

LOCAL VIEW  —POST STORM TRAUMA SYNDROME—

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.

DECEMBER 16  —DMI STILL DOWN  –  MORNING MAUE MAPS

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!

DUCKING THE DOWNLOAD  —  THE PIVOTING COLD

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

DECEMBER 16  —DMI STILL DOWN SO MORE MAUE MAPS—

DMI Dec 16B pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 16B temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

DECEMBER 17  —MORE MORNING MAUE MAPS—

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!

A QUICK GLANCE AT TWO UK MET MAPS

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.

QUICK LOOK AT UK MET MAP

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.

FORKARMA DATA 

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.

DECEMBER 17  —DMI STILL BLANK— AFTERNOON MAUE MAPS—

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.

DECEMBER 19 —PLAYING CATCH-UP WITH POLAR MAPS—

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.

LOCAL VIEW  —A BRIEF INTERLUDE OF WARMTH—

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.

DECEMBER 19  —1200z POLAR MAUE MAPS—ALSO DMI MAPS—

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?

MAUE MAPS

DMI Dec 19B pressure cmc_mslp_uv10m_arctic_1DMI Dec 19B temp cmc_t2m_arctic_1

DMI MAPS

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.

FORKUOY BITES THE DUST

The http://psc.apl.washington.edu/northpole/index.html site has stopped posting the garbled data putmout by our faithful Forkuoy.  Alas, Poor Forkuoy, I knew him well.

FORKARMA DATA

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.

HUDSON BAY IS FROZEN OVER

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.

Hudson Bay CMMBCTCA

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.

LOCAL VIEW  –THE BATTLE BETWEEN NORTHERN AND SOUTHERN STREAMS–

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)

DECEMBER 20  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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.

QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP

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.

CHECKING UP ON GPS FORECAST

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.

LOCAL VIEW  —OLDTIMERS WERE LEERY OF THAWS—

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.

DECEMBER 20  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

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.

DECEMBER 21  —DMI MORNING MAPS— 

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.

FORKARMA DATA

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.

QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP

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.”

DECEMBER 22 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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 MORNING MAP

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.

SCOTLAND TO GET TWO SUPER-GALES?

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.

BAFFIN BAY BUST-UP

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:

EXCELLENT ARTICLE DESCRIBING HOW HEAT IS IMPORTED TO ARCTIC

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.

http://wattsupwiththat.com/2013/12/21/the-magnificent-climate-heat-engine/

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.

DECEMBER 23 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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 MORNING MAP 

UK Met Dec 23 10952784

LOCAL VIEW 

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

LATER LOCAL VIEW   —

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.

QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET 0700 MAP

(CLICK MAP TO ENLARGE)

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

DECEMBER 23  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

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.

IS THE WIND INCREASING THE THICKNESS OF THE ARCTIC 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.

DECEMBER 24  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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.

QUICK GLANCE AT FILI ON UK MET MAP

(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.

DECEMBER 24   —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

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 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.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00431672.1967.9932756?journalCode=vwws20#.Urpsp9JDvkc

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL GOOD NIGHT!

DECEMBER 25  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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 MET MAP  0000 UTC

UK Mey Dec 25 11005367

FORKARMA DATA

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.

LOCAL VIEW  —A QUIET CHRISTMAS—

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.

DECEMBER 26  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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 0000 MAP

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)

LOCAL VIEW  

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.)

FORKARMA DATA  

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.)

DECEMBER 26  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

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.

UK MET 1200 MAP

(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.

FORKARMA DATA  —SOUTH OF 70, EAST OF 20—

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.

FORKARMA DATA

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.”

DECEMBER 27  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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 1200Z MAP

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.

DECEMBER 28  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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.)

QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP

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: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/12/28/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-cold-builds/

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17 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE RECOVERY — THE DARKEST DAYS

  1. I have been enjoying your blog for so time and have often meant to comment but have been too lazy to get to it. Most of my life has been spent in warm climates where we rarely get frost, let alone snow. I did spend two very formative years in Saranac Lake, where it got down to -30 a few times each winter when I was there. Trees do crack from the cold on a still night. Nothing scarier for a 12 year old than the first time I walked home from my friends house through the woods, in the dark, with the pond booming and the trees cracking all around me.

    • I’m glad you enjoy my ramblings. I liked your brief tale about being a boy waking at night. It brought back memories of some boyhood walks of my own. (I can still get a little spooked walking past a graveyard, but not with the gusto I mustered as a lad.)

      One thing I remember quite well is seeing the constellation “Orion” for the first time. I’m not sure how I knew it was Orion, but I did, and seeing it simply stopped me dead in my tracks.

    • Thanks for the link. I spent some time just gazing at the animation. It is a bit hypnotic, but it does give me a feel for what is going on in the current tense. I do foresee two potential problems that I’ve run into with similar maps that show the motion with static arrows rather than animation.

      First, there are areas with few and scattered points of actual data, and they then must fill-in-the-blanks for the areas in between with educated guesses. Their guess are better than mine, but there have been times I’ve seen them guess wrong.

      Second, usually we are looking at the past. Storms of amazing size blow up with such remarkable speed in the winter, especially in the North Atlantic, that the past is outdated so fast it makes my head spin. All it takes is missing a few maps and I can barely recognize a landscape, (or perhaps I should say “weather-scape,”) that I was quite familiar with the day before.

      However those objections are just me straining at a gnat. I really like animations of real data. I also think people have an innate ability to understand motion, and to see what is coming, that doesn’t involve math. (When you throw a child a ball, he will catch it without his calculations involving a calculator.)

      Thanks again for the link.

    • I do like the link. Dan Zdralek alerted me to it twelve hours before you, and then I saw it mentioned on another site, so it must be new, and also people must like it. Thanks for thinking of me. (See my comment to Dan.)

  2. You’ve been busy and may not have noticed but one of your fears has been realized with 100 % ice coverage of Hudsons Bay. http://iceweb1.cis.ec.gc.ca/Prod20/page3.xhtml
    In Calgary we had some lovely Chinooks that took the temps to plus 10C but are now back in the deep freeze at -20C. I have broken two shovels this past week … I’m a shoveling machine (a hurting and achy shovelling machine 😉

    • I’m pretty creaky as well. I just keep telling myself that if the shoveling doesn’t cause a heart attack, it is good for my heart.

      I noticed that Hudson Bay is frozen up, according to the Navy map. According to the Canadian Ice Service there’s a sliver of open water left.

      Once interesting thing to watch is how the Bay still warms air when the ice is new and thin, as the heat gets through the thin ice, (which likely is broken up with many leads,) however as we get into the coldest parts of January and into February, the ice gets thicker and the warming becomes more feeble.

      Also the storms no longer track along the boundary of ice and open water, as the boundary has vanished.

      Baffin Bay is freezing up as well.

      When you get free time, (after Christmas?) tell me what sort of weather goes along with the bounce of temperatures up to +10 and then crash back to -20.

      Have a Merry Christmas!

      • Caleb … I could waste a lot of words but look at the weather site a neighbour has and you can see the power of these Chinooks with the wind swinging to blowing straight out of the west and the temps jumping as the warmth floods in. http://wx.ca/ The wind was strong by 5am our time on that graph but has died down and currently is almost nothing and we are very overcast with what is called Chinook cloudiness and means nothing even though it can look very ominous. Typically the clouds will both blow to the east and dissipate as the temperatures continue to rise and the winds pick up although we will end up with one band of clouds that is the Chinook arch and parallels the mountain front. I’m going to enjoy this warmth since walking the dog yesterday was nasty when the wind found the weak spots in your layers or was straight at your bare face … and it wasn’t even that windy but it doesn’t take much breeze at 20 below to really feel it.
        Have a great Christmas.

      • Wow! That is quite the warm-up! Is it true that the winds are south while it is -20 and then shift nwn as the Chinook pushes through? (I’m looking at the graph.)

        Here our nw winds are usually cold, however I recall a winter around a seven? years ago when the Chinooks were going wild all January right up to Alaska, and we got nw winds even here far from the Rockies that were surprisingly mild. (The thing I recall most is the dark circles that were under Joe Bastardi’s eyes, as he had nailed the forecast a month ahead of time, and had the northwest flow down correctly, but missed the element of Chinook air, which meant his forecast was a complete bust, as he was envisioning a solid month of northwest flow over North America would bring down extreme cold. His forecast was 95% right and only 5% wrong, but he made no excuses and simply called the bust a bust. I admired that.)

        So far we’ve had a yo-yo winter in terms of temperatures, but the cold is definately winning. I noticed, while driving yesterday afternoon, that a local river was still frozen bank to bank despite the recent warm up and rising waters due to snow-melt. Often that river goes into January with little ice. However the temperatures got down to -30 c in the river bottoms one morning last week, and the river still remembers that cold.

        It looks like more cold is coming our way, as the cold you just escaped is shunted east. The yo-yo is heading down again!

        Have a Merry Christmas, and a Merry Christmas to your lucky dog as well. (I may get our new dog one of those absurd sweaters for Christmas, as it is a total wimp in the cold. It is completely different from our last dog, which sometimes would rather sleep in a snow drift than by a wood stove.)

      • Re the cold south winds … that would be dependant on the position of the jet stream so if we were on the south side of the jet stream then a south wind would tend to be a warm wind bringing air from somewhere stateside. If on the north side of the jet stream then all winds will be cold or the same as the air mass we are in and a west wind is a rarity when on the cold side (east side of the jet) since the mountains lay to the west and are an effective dam separating the warmer Pacific dominated air from the cold air masses of the plains. Given our position in the North American continent and latitude normal temps are -10 to -25 through this cold part of the winter and the when a polar outbreak occurs then we see the -30 stuff which thankfully doesn’t last to long. Walking the dog yesterday I had the thought that if the -30 stuff did last for week after week most of us probably wouldn’t be living here since it would be just too brutal for ranching etc

      • Thanks for the excellent report.

        Judging from my maps it looks like you are still on the Chinook side of the front. Enjoy it while it lasts. It looks like some of that -30 stuff will be heading your way. (And my way as well.)

        Have a happy (if cold) New Year, and wish your lucky dog a Happy New Year as well!

  3. Re “it tells me the computer is slightly underestimating the power of the north” I had the same thought well posting the reference to Hudson Bay freeze up only along the lines of wondering if the models are sophisticated enough to change their algorithms to reflect the differences that occur with freeze up of the major water bodies. I would guess not.
    This is either a “great minds think alike” or a “fools seldom differ” moment … you’re the poet and so I’ll let u decide 😉

    • I doubt the models can include even half the variables we can dream up, if we really put our minds to it. Even what they have taxes some of the biggest computers in the world, and can’t get things right beyond ten days into the future, more often than not.

      I think it is a case where the human brain is superior to a computer. Our logic isn’t all that digital, and some of our connections involve logarithmic logic, and they haven’t been able to develop analog computers all that much.

      Still, I’m amazed by how correct the forecasts are for three days ahead. They’ve done something right, that far, at least.

  4. Just thought , after the talk of trees cracking in the cold , that we had crisp grass with a first slight frost on Christmas morning in the UK – the first one! i really do hope our snowy winter doesnt start in spring ( when even heavy snowfalls cant survive the mid day spring sunshine ) those snows are just a drip fest and a waste of cold , good to hear people are making good use of cold and have already seen snow this winter !! .

    • It looks like you might start getting your real winter in mid January. We had a winter like that here last year. The first half was nothing; the second half absolutely buried us.

      How were those two before and after Christmas gales, where you live? I heard they were getting 80 mph gusts up in Scotland. Did you get a real storm, or was it one of those events like the one you described last fall: You go out and see a couple lawn chairs were blown over.

      • Hi , well the two wooden benches outside my flat survived the latest storm but the one behind the flat was tipped up , the wind was from a different direction , thats about it really , oh and the cherry tree has more blossom and little leaf buds showing , its really responding well to the warmer weather , went down to the shops today and the guy sitting next to me in the bus station was wearing a tee shirt !!!

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