This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was, https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-days-lengthen-cold-strengthens/
If you are a first-time visitor I will simply say this post will get longer and longer, as I add updates to the bottom several times a day. If you revisit the site to check up on the latest update you can enter on my home page, and click the little “comments” balloon to the right of the title, and that will take you to the bottom of the post, where you can scroll up a short ways to see the latest. This avoids the bother of sometimes needing to scroll down a long, long ways to see the latest.
Secondly, I should say this series of posts began discussing the views from the North Pole Cameras. Camera 1 has been retrieved by an ice-breaker, while Camera 2 was flattened by a polar bear and then covered with snow, and the fellows from the icebreaker couldn’t locate it. Furthermore all the O-Bouys have been shut down for the winter, (likely because they are solar powered and there is no sunshine up there, these days.) In conclusion, you are reading a post about views when no views exist.
I have considered shutting down this series of posts until spring, but I have a stubborn streak. Also there are still views, though they are very, very long-range views, from a satellite. Nothing can be seen with visible light, until the 24-hour-darkness ends, however they are able to gather some data via radar. (There is debate about how valid such data is, but let’s skip that for now.)
I try to make the meager information we receive interesting, and also to talk a little about how the arctic is effecting where I live, in southern New Hampshire in the USA. However for the most part this post is more like a notebook filled with my sketches and scrawling. If I happen to come up with something worth more than mere wondering, I will usually write a separate post.
I’m prone to purple prose, and from time to time hide a sonnet in my prose just for the fun of it. At the end of my last post the hidden-sonnet had the rhyme-scheme words: “Gray, blues, play, brews, chimneys, rack, trees, back, lay, its, gray, wits, drawing, and thawing.”
(And yes, I know it is sort of illegal to end a line with “its”, but I’m the boss of this blog, and if I want to cheat it is allowed. But only for me.)
I tend to look at polar weather maps twice a day, and look at my own neighborhood (and life) at the end of each day, and occasionally look at other parts of the world, (including, one time, the Sahara Desert, which must be a sea-ice first.) However I attempt to tie everything back to sea-ice, which is the “sun” all else orbits (supposedly) in this post.
Each news item will have a headline, and appear as follows:
JAMMIN’ IN THE BEAUFORT GYRE —(Keep your eyes on this)—
The ice was flushing nicely down through Fram Strait nicely at the start of the winter, but more recently wrong-way-winds have created a new clot up in Fram Strait, keeping sea-ice from exiting the Pole. This is a bit like the situation we had last summer, which seemed to keep the sea-ice from melting by keeping it condensed, and also by keeping it up in the arctic, and lastly to even increase the multi-year-ice north of Canada, by cramming ice that way rather than flushing it down through Fram Strait. We now seem in a mid-winter version of the same situation. The current drift of the ice towards the Beaufort Gyre, rather than towards Fram Strait, is seen in this drift map: (Click twice to fully enlarge.)
The thick multi-year-ice appears as reds, yellows, and greens in the map below.
You can seen a little red leaking away down the east side of Greenland. You’ll have to take my word for it, (or visit other sites to reaffirm,) that this is less ice escaping than occurred during other winters. You’ll also have to take my word for it, when I say much more of the thicker ice is remaining behind north of Canada, and now even north of Alaska, than was there at this time, only two years ago.
JANUARY 29 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—
The two-lane-highway of cross-polar-flow seems to be reforming, after being split by the intrusions of milder air from both the Atlantic and Pacific sides. The center of the Pole remains much warmer than normal. The cold on the Canadian side is being sucked south over the Canadian Archipelago by the strong gradient between the 950 mb Labrador Low southwest of Greenland and the 1030 mb high over the Canadian arctic coast. The cold on the Siberian side is extending towards the Pole as the “Snout of Igor” reappears. (For first time readers, “Igor” is the persistent extreme cold and high pressure over Siberia, and his “snouts” are the bulges of cold moving out from that center. “Igor,” (or Siberia,) is colder than the North Pole and even the Icecap of Greenland, this time of year. We have been watching one bulge that intermittently sends shots of cold across the Pole into Canada, and a second bulge that has recently extended east towards Europe.)
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP —Battle of the Bulge—
The western “Snout of Igor” continues stand as a strong bulge into Scandinavia. It has shunted the Icelandic low south, and the last attempt of the North Atlantic to restablish the Icelandic Low is now being discarded south over France towards a more southerly storm track through the Mediterranean. This map is the closest we have seen to the map we’ve been on guard for, indicative of the negative AO and NAO.
The truly cold pattern hasn’t fully developed, and at this point the patterning seems more like a hybrid pattern, wavering back and forth between having an Icelandic low and suppressing it. One sign the Icelandic low may try to reassert itself is that the Labrador low is weaker, (up from a 950 mb low to 961 mb low, and seems to attempting the morphistication of the towering Greenland icecap. (To newcomers, “morphistication” is my word for “transit” or “cross-over,”) This is shown by the 973 mb forming on the east coast of Greenland, complete with a web of fronts hanging south. Earlier in the winter we saw such morhpisticated lows become strong as they moved towards Iceland, but computer models suggest this one will weaken.
A second attempt to reestablish the Icelandic low will occur as the low I dubbed “Whiff” (as it passed out to sea and missed my locale,) appears in the lower left of the above map and heads out into the Atlantic, turning into a gale center. We need to watch it, to see if it heads towards Spain or up to Iceland. (The last one split the difference, and headed straight to England.)
It is interesting to note that the high over Iceland often creates a calm, or even a slight south wind, way east in Fram Strait, keeping the sea ice from flushing out of the Arctic Ocean.
A QUICK LOOK AT ASIA
In order to truly comprehend the enormity of cold in Igor’s gut in eastern Siberia, it pays to look at a temperature map of that region. (Click map twice to fully enlarge)
All the pink area on the above map is colder than the magic minus forty, where Celsius and Fahrenheit are the same, and the pinkest pink indicates a temperature of minus 73.3 (58.5 Celsius). In other words, the center of cold in the north is not the North Pole. Canada is a second center, but rarely can match such cold, and when it does it is usually because Siberian air has crossed the Pole and then lingered to chill further over Canadian snows.
When Siberia speaks, northern lands tremble. The best-case-scenarios for most people are when the cold drains east into the Pacific, for when it drains south China suffers, and when it drains east Europe freezes, and when it drains north the Americas can expect their coldest arctic outbreaks.
In the above map you can see one snout bulging west towards Europe, fighting the Atlantic’s desire to push warmer air east. A second plume of cold pours out into the Arctic Ocean like a curving feather to the northeast, and towards Alaska, Canada, and the USA.
(If you are a European fearful of fuel-poverty, you hope that northern plume sucks all the cold out of Siberia, leaving little behind to move west towards Europe, (and perhaps thinking it is the turn of the Americas to taste how fuel-poverty is bitter, and what dunderheads politicians who intentionally raise fuel prices are.)
In order to get a feeling for the flow of winds at the surface it is helpful to look at a map of Asia with winds and isobars shown. Then you get an idea where the cold is headed.
This map shows a strong high pressure over eastern Russia delivering murderously cold east winds westward on its underside, and giving Scandinavia a sort of uppercut of cold from the southeast. Meanwhile the north side of this high is drawing slightly milder air east along the arctic coast of Eurasia, which may weaken the high, as warm air weakens highs because it rises and rising air lowers pressures at the surface.
A second high to the east is delivering the coldest south winds on earth up into the Arctic Sea. Even down on the coast of Antarctica, the south winds off the coldest continent are not this cold, in January. (In July they are worse.) However this high also has its warm side, sucking slightly milder Pacific air in from the Bearing Strait.
I haven’t a clue what these high pressure systems will do. I’m just an observer.
GIVING CREDIT WHERE CREDIT IS DUE
The above two Asian maps are the work of Dr. Ryan Maue, who creates them from the data spewed out by various forecast models. I get them from the WeatherBELL site, and they cost me the price of a cup of coffee each day. When you consider how many models there are, and how many maps can be produced by the model’s data extending ahead, three-hours-at-time, to 360 hours, and how many different types of maps can be produced including various levels of the atmosphere, and various elements of those atmosphere such as humidity, wind speed, pressure, temperature, and stuff I haven’t learned about, there are over a thousand maps to look at, and they update between two and four times a day. I think it is a gold mine, if you are interested in weather, and my understanding is you can get a free trial for a week, if you are even cheaper than I am. (Also you get the opinions of two fine old-school forecasters, Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo.) This resource can be found at http://www.weatherbell.com/
Another great resource is provided, absolutely free, by Anthony Watts on his “Sea Ice Page.” This gold mine compiles a whole slew of other free sites without the bother of having to search for them. It also allows you to access the sites without dealing with the annoying fight going on between Alarmists and Skeptics. You can even avoid my brilliant wit, if you have a headache and my brilliance hurts your eyes. This site can be found at: http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/
There are many other excellent sites I hope I never fail to give credit to, as I steal from them, however the above two sites are in a league all their own.
LOCAL VIEW —Sneaky cold—
The maps show that “Whiff” has run harmlessly away past the Maritime Provinces of Canada, and that there is no snow in a thousand miles. However maps don’t always show the full picture. Even as “Whiff” headed away, and maps showed the cold “lifting” away to the north, we got hit by a little bit of nasty cold, swung south by Whiff as he departed.
The maps do not show the typical arctic outbreak pushing a cold front, when a storm is as meek as Whiff was, but Whiff had his little backlash. It was one of those things that are very real, if you spend time outdoors, that maps utterly miss.
Don’t get me wrong. I adore maps, and greatly enjoy pouring over the results of the efforts of others. I am well aware someone worked late into the night to produce the maps, and therefore I am not blithe about dismissing them. However I also know they are approximations, and miss the little details at times.
Little details can be big, in the microcosm of a Childcare. If a golden day turns windy, and the wind has a sting, I need no maps to fear the children will get cold. I need no maps to hustle about and build a fire so big you have to step away, to avoid the radiant heat.
Even then, I miss obvious details. When a kid takes offence over another kid, and slumps by the fire, I tend to assume they are merely offended. In fact the child may be coming down with the ‘flu. His rude responses to my care may have nothing to do with rudeness. His shivering may have nothing to do with the weather. The kid is just sick.
Little details can be big things. Therefore I am noting that rain and snow down in Florida, though no model shows a storm coming up the coast.
The big detail on the map is the broad southwest flow behind the arctic high currently freezing our socks off. Oh! That sure would be nice!
However I’m keeping my eyes peeled for those sneaky details.
JANUARY 30 —MORNING DMI MAPS—
JANUARY 30 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
(click images to enlarge)
The high over Russia continues to waft light and mild winds towards the Pole on it’s warm west-side, now bringing a slight thaw to Svalbard., and “balmy” +5 readings to Iceland. The Pole is averaging (north of 80 degrees,) some ten degrees above normal, -15 rather than -25. (Remember it is -50 in Siberia.)
Pacific air is being drawn in through the Bering Strait along the east Siberian arctic coast.
Between the two the Snout of Igor is pouring air from Siberia across to Canada. The isotherms seem to indicate the channel is narrowed slightly in the past 12 hours, but the -20 isotherm now extend nearly across to Canada. Remember that this air is warmed as it crosses the Arctic Sea, despite the ice-cover, but also that this warming tends to be shallow. As soon as the air gets over land again in Canada it chills rapidly.
JANUARY 31 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
The most interesting feature is that little, tight low moving the wrong way along the Siberian coast. It’s east-side winds are drawing cold air from Siberia north. Models suggest it is the first of a series of wrong-way lows. More typically lows enter the Arctic Sea on the Atlantic side and head east along the Siberian coast, getting weaker as they lose their source of Atlantic fuel, but often discernible all the way to Bering Strait. Now it is as if the lows are circling clockwise around Igor in Siberia, rather than circling the Pole itself. This may have something to do with the warming of the Stratosphere high above, an event which has only been a forecaster’s focus for the past decade or so. It is new territory and a frontier.
The Icelandic low may be trying to reestablish itself on the Atlantic side.
The Pole itself has little identity, and seems more like a boundary between other forces.
QUICK LOOK AT UK MET
“Whiff” has exploded into a powerful North Atlantic gale, and looks like it is splitting-the-difference and heading straight towards Britain. The Snout of Igor is remaining strong, and the flow between the two will be from the south, however it will have less of an ocean component and more of a continental component than the southerly flow back in December: More of a southeast flow than a southwest flow.
Up in Fram Strait the wrong-way flow continues, though it may return to a more normal north wind if “Whiff” occludes and loop-de-loops back towards Iceland, which is what some models suggest. If the Icelandic low reestablishes itself things will become more ordinary, but if a lot of Whiff’s energy escapes under the Snout of Igor lodged over Scandinavia, into the Mediterranean, then the pattern is changing.
LOCAL VIEW —Southwest flow—
No stars in the sky this morning, as the southwest flow around the back-side of the last arctic high starts to bring moister mildness north. The radar shows it is snowing down in Dixie, so it is not all that mild. However, after days when it’s been the single digits at daybreak, you tend to call 19 degrees (-7 Celsius,) in the dark before dawn “mild.”
It’s a relative mildness, and your skin does recognize it as being milder, but down deep I don’t think you are fooling anyone. Yesterday was a gloriously sunny day, but cold. I was trying to enjoy the sun as I lugged firewood to the front porch, and attempting to take delight in the fact the temperature was inching through the teens up past twenty, when suddenly it occurred to me, “I’m sick of this.”
Into my mind crept one of my earliest memories, when I must have been at preschool age, for I was kicking around the house as my mother chain-smoked and payed bills at her desk. I was bored, but couldn’t go outside because it was too cold. Abruptly a thought occurred to me, and I trotted over to my mother and asked her, “Mom? Does January mean it will be spring soon?”
She looked downright startled that I should ask such a question, and replied, “No, dear. Spring won’t be for a long time yet.” I must have slouched in deep, ridiculous dejection, for a smile flickered on the corners of her lips. As I walked away I was slightly offended. Waiting for spring did not seem like a laughing matter.
Now here it is, well over a half century later, and I am no better at waiting.
Looking ahead there is nothing to see but (as Joe Bastardi puts it) “storms and rumors of storms.” All the month of February; all the month of March; and even April is a long tease around here; spring never really busts out until May.
I suppose this is what separates the men from the boys, but I’m weary of winter already.
FEBRUARY 1 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
Pushes of milder air continue to invade the Arctic Ocean from both the Atlantic and Pacific side, with a slender and disjointed flow from central Siberia to Canada between them. Strong high pressure over Russia is squaring off against strong low pressure (“Whiff”) south of Iceland. A weak low has again formed due to the intrusion of Atlantic air lifting north of Greenland, assisting the continued wrong-way-flow northward through Fram Strait. Meanwhile the wrong-way-low in the East Siberian Sea continues to draw Pacific air through Bering Strait into the Arctic, and draw very cold Siberian air (“Igor”) into the the immediate coastal waters of that same East Siberian Sea. The ice is thickening in that sea, as can be seen in this 30-day animation of the Navy ice-thickness map, (well worth watching and thinking about.) (The last 7 days are a forecast; not reality.)
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET —The big boys square off—
“Whiff” is a powerful 941 mb gale, while “Igor” remains a powerful 1054 mb high pressure. The pressure difference between the two is creating a swath of south winds over Europe. While this is a colder picture than December, the south winds do indicate a return to the “old” pattern” and a failure of the “new” pattern to dominate. I’m assuming the patterns will wobble back and forth, with neither dominating, for a while, but in the short-term it looks like the Icelandic Low will reappear, as the Labrador Low fades away. Bad news for lovers of extreme winter weather in Europe, but good news for those in energy-poverty.
POLE ABOVE AVERAGE —Where’s the cold?—
The DMI graph below shows the recent intrusions of Atlantic and pacific air towards the Pole have elevated the average temperatures north of 80 degrees latitude nearly fifteen degrees above normal.
While these averages are still at minus twenty, and therefore no ice-melt will result, one might wonder is it is a sign of Global Warming and a reduced amount of ice at the Pole next summer. We will have to wait and see, as every summer is full of surprises, but there are other indications the ice is thicker and will persist more. What the above graph may indicate is that a lot of the cold air has been shunted south. It pays to look at a temperature map that shows some of the subarctic, as well as the arctic.
Below is the current GFS initial run, (a product of Dr. Ryan Maue at WeatherBELL.)
This map shows the cold in Canada, and the unreal, murderous cold in Siberia. It also shows the Atlantic and Pacific intrusions over the Pole, and a sort of Chinook pressing east into Alaska.
In terms of “warming the planet,” it is likely lively debate could be sparked, discussing the effect this map would have in the long term. I would take the tack of stating that, because it is still dark over the Pole, warm intrusions represent heat that will be lost to the arctic night. They don’t melt the sea-ice much, and in fact make snow fall which adds to the top of the ice, and creates a white shield that reflects sunlight. Further south the arctic outbreaks create snowfalls which reflect heat in lands that do have sunlight, and freeze bays and lakes that then increase night-time radiational cooling, and also slow the arrival of spring until they melt. I’d conclude the overall effect of the above map would be cooling, and then I’d sit back and fully expect some persuasive counter-arguments.
In the short term what matters is whether that extreme cold stays in Siberia where it belongs. There are signs it will not:
SPECIAL DELIVERY OF EXTREME COLD FROM SIBERIA TO CANADA?
The three maps below show the cross-polar delivery, at the 850 mb level, (roughly 5000 feet up, or 1500 meters), of some extremely nasty cold, over the next six days. (Maps produced by Dr. Ryan Maue of WeatherBELL.) They represent data produced by the European model. The first, top map is the “initial” run (and represents the current situation,) and the second, middle map represents the situation 96 hours from now, with the cold over the Pole (likely making the DMI graph plunge,) and the third, bottom map represents the situation 144 hours from now, with the the cold moving ashore in Canada, (and also some “home grown” extreme cold over Hudson Bay.) (Double click the maps to fully enlarge.)
My guess would be that now is not the time to put away winter clothes, in North America.
GREAT LAKES FREEZING OVER
Slowly, as the winter has come on and built, the bodies of water that moderate arctic air as it passes over, protecting the people down wind, have been freezing over. Way back in September the edges of the Arctic Sea itself were unfrozen, but they began freezing up in early October. In Novermber the huge lakes up in northern Canada froze over, as did the northern inlets of Hudson Bay. By mid December Hudson Bay was ice-covered, as was much of Baffin Bay, and the Great Lakes were starting to freeze. Despite a few warm-ups in January, the month as a whole has been very cold in the center of the USA, and the lakes have far more ice than usual:
(Hat tip to Joseph D’Aleo, who pointed out this map on his “Wednesday Great Lakes Update” on his blog at WeatherBELL, [a weekly feature.])
With this much ice on the Great Lakes, and with the ice continuing to grow, it means winds will be colder for the people in the lee of the lakes, and that includes poor, little, old me. (It also can can delay the spring. Drat.)
LOCAL VIEW —A lull— Don’t bug me bugs—
The above maps (click if you care to enlarge,) show that we are in a bit of a lull. The arctic high that froze so many socks off has in part “lifted out” taking some cold air back north, and in part has simply hung around the south too long and has moderated. It’s front can be seen down in Florida, with one of those innocent lows that always make me wary, as I’ve been “lulled into submission” in the past. However we are on the warm side of the high, though the southwest flow has fallen apart (along with the high) and isn’t too strong.
You still know it is an arctic high, even though you feel warmer. Half of the apparent warmth is because your metabolism is in winter-mode, and freezing seems mild. Even the children at the Childcare seemed a little sluggish yesterday, while I myself was getting too much excersize shoveling the scant snow onto the top of their sledding trails, as they have been breaking the Childcare’s plastic sleds at an alarming rate hot-dogging over snow that is so shallow that some roots poke through, as well as the tops of some stones.
When temperatures were down around ten (-12 Celsius) the lack of snow didn’t slow the children one bit, and they were demonstrating their propensity for making even the shallowest slope as dangerous as possible. However yesterday, as I added to snow to a part of their trail that had been made brown by the dirt churned up into the snow, the kids seemed a bit listless in the “heat.” It was nearly up to freezing! They lolled about in their snowsuits, as impervious to the cold fact their couches were crystal ice as huskies are when they loll in Yukon drifts.
I’m not much different. This morning I walked out without my hat and gloves, enjoying what seemed like a thaw, and then a glance at the back porch thermometer told me it was nineteen. (-7 Celsius.) People who don’t live in the north tend to roll their eyes when they hear statements like this, but anyone who has lived in the north knows it is a truth. In fact you can always spot a person just back from a lovely Caribbean vacation, because they are the person in the heavy coat with the woolly hat midst a group of folk who are hatless and in winter shirts. (It takes around a week to acclimatize to the north.)
I’m acclimatized, but years of smoking means my circulation isn’t what it once was. This sort of lull in the winter always reminds me of when I was young, bored, and suddenly the powder snow grew sticky enough to make a snowball. However that is a post for another time. Let it suffice to say I did not mind it, at age sixteen, when my hands were beet red from making snowballs without gloves. (Hint: In those days, if you threw snowballs at cars, sometimes the driver would stop and chase you.)
This sort of lull reminds me that mild spells were often the prelude to big storms. I thought this might be merely my memory embellishing upon my fond recollections of times school was cancelled, however both Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo have mentioned that when the PDO and AMO are in this configuration winter often saves its best storms for the second half.
Still, a lull is a lull, and the weather fits my mood, as I am in a sort of creative lull as well. My last creative effort resulted in praise and five-minutes-of-fame on the What’s Up With That site, however that sensation is over, and now I am kicking about, listless, awaiting the next creative impulse in my imagination.
Such periods are hard on my wife. What I call “incubating an idea” looks an awful lot like “loafing” to her. She feels she might be able to help me out of my doldrums by what she calls “motivating.” I am not always as grateful as I should be, for my word for “motivation” is sometimes “bugging.”
After a bit of
bugging motivation I did take a large load of trash to the dump today, as well as tending to the dog and goats and a few other things, and then, to avoid being bugged motivated any more, I did the cowardly thing, which is to hide. I found a patch of sun on the south side of the outside of the house, and sat back to sunbathe in the wan sunbeams, and also to loaf incubate a new idea, when suddenly a swarm of bugs that looked very much like mosquitoes appeared about three feet in front of my nose.
The irony was not lost on me, however I swiftly determined that the bugs were not needle-nosed, and my irritation subsided to fascination. The little flies were forming a swarm like summertime gnats, but with an odd yo-yo pattern to their flight, where they bobbed up and down about two inches in the same spot. At times they seemed to nearly get their act together, and to all bob at the same time, but the fly in charge of choreography wasn’t all that good at it, and their dance would get all out of whack. Then they’d call it quits and all sink and settle on the glossy green needles of a yew beside of the house, resting a bit before deciding to give it another go.
I started to consider the ecological niche these little flies were in. In the dead of a cold winter the temperature had only recently risen from a morning low of 19 to just above freezing, and here they were, apparently mating. Who knows how long the thaw would last, and how long they’d have to lay their eggs wherever the heck they laid them? It didn’t seem they had much breathing room, but it was a clever space they’d found for themselves, for there wouldn’t be too many predictors around in the dead of winter, spoiling their little party by eating them.
They must have some sort of amazing metabolism to be able to produce the energy to fly in such cold. The few other crawling critters you see in the winter don’t fly.
Around the time the sap starts running in the maples, (any day now,) you start to see tiny little grey grubs wriggling in the snow. (If you lay a quarter in the snow, they’d be roughly the size of the letter “o” in the word “Quarter Dollar.” ) They only look like grubs until you see one hop and land a foot or six inches away. Then you understand why they are called “snow fleas,” though more officially they are dubbed “spring tails,” but that is also incorrect, for actually it is not their tails that spring, but their fifth and sixth legs, which curl under their body like a tail, and spring free all of a sudden shooting them (without any attempt or semblance of control) out of danger. (Get me the heck out of here!) Though they have six legs it may even be incorrect to call them insects, for apparently the people who study such things think they may be some sort of primitive order that existed before insects, and evolved into insects. I wouldn’t know about such things; I only know they are a pain when I want to eat some snow. There can be hundreds of thousands of them, covering all the snow in sight.
Down where it is wet there is a bigger bug that wakes up just when all the other bugs are going to sleep in the fall. If you scrape the snow away from some black ice and peer through the ice into the water below you can see them moving about, for they are like dragon flies and spend the first part of their life under water. They are called “stone flies” though when they come crawling up as adults onto the ice their wings look a bit pathetic and I’ve never seen one fly. They sing their love songs to each other by thumping on the ice, though my old ears can’t hear a thing. Then they duck down under the water again to lay their eggs, and when those eggs hatch the babies duck down into the mud, and hide all summer, when other critters are lurking about. So these insects also take advantage of a certain niche. However my main point is they don’t fly, or don’t fly much.
Flying takes a lot of energy, and energy is at low ebb when temperatures are close to freezing. This made the swarm of over-sized gnats hovering a yard in front of my nose, making me cross-eyed, all the more intriguing.
The only other bug I’ve seen flying around in the winter seems to require a bit more warmth, but when it get up into the forties in an especially mild thaw, I’ve often seen these ratty looking moths fluttering about in the pine groves. They don’t seem to fly very well, and likely wouldn’t stand a chance in the summer, but in the winter the insect-eating birds are few and far between, so it doesn’t matter so much that these moths take forever to get wherever it is they are going. They have found their niche.
Even down at the bottom of the sea, where the water is near freezing and sunlight can’t penetrate and the pressures are so great that CO2 exists as bubbles of liquid rather than as a gas, undersea vents supply just enough energy to provide a niche for strange clams and crabs and tube-worms and shrimp.
As I looked at the swarm of bugs in front of me it occurred to me that the Creator filled every corner of his creation with life. Even when energy is in very short supply, it is still a niche, and amazing life flourishes.
Therefore, it logically follows, just because my energy is in very short supply is no excuse for my not flourishing and flying, or at least hopping like a spring-tail, which is what I set out to do with this post. I’d prefer not being bugged, but even if I am bugged I’ll still make art of it.
Furthermore I’m not too old to learn, either. That swarm bugging me was critters called “winter crane flies.” I just learned that, via search engines.
FEBRUARY 1 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS— Wrong way low and wrong way flow
Not very much cross-polar flow is apparent on these maps. What is apparent is that the Atlantic air delivered to the Pole is cooling. Also the flow in Fram Strait remains stubbornly the wrong way, though that may soon change. Also the powerful low “Whiff” at the bottom of the map is matched by a Pacific storm, barely seen as deep blue at the top. This Pacific storm is forecast to follow the wrong way storm that is currently past the New Siberian Islands and into the Laptev Sea. Just as the current wrong way storm is pulling some cold Siberian “Igor air” north in its wake, so will the following storm, but the following storm will pull some big time air clear over to Canada, according to some models. We’ll just have to wait and see if this actually comes to pass.
FEBRUARY 2 —MORNING DMI MAPS— second wrong-way-storm
Some interesting stuff is going on up in the stratosphere above the Pole, which may explain why storms are rolling along the Siberian coast from east to west, the “wrong way,” but such things are above my head. I prefer to be down to earth, and just note the odd motion of the storms. I’ve decided to dub the two storms “Rongwe 1” and “Rongwe 2.”
Besides pulling a stripe of Pacific moisure west over arctic waters, they are also pulling a bulge of frigid Siberian air north. The clash between the cold and mild is likely their fuel. (By the way, the very cold air on the Siberian coast is just south of eighty degrees, and will have no effect on the DMI temperatures-north-of-eighty-degrees graph.)
On the other side of the Pole “Whiff” is milling around between Iceland and Britain, and extending its isobars up towards Fram Strait, hinting the wrong-way flow through that Strait may end, and the wad of ice up there may be flushed south. Temperatures south of Iceland are the warmest we’ve seen in a while, above +5 Celsius, (41 Fahrenheit), so there is plenty of energy in the Atlantic to fuel the Icelandic Low. However the +5 isotherm is a bit further south than it was yesterday.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
“Whiff” still can’t decide whether he wants to be an Icelandic Low or not, but is not being shunted south over Spain like the prior storm. Some energy is going down that way, to join the storm track east through the Mediterranean, but other energy is loop-de-looping back towards Iceland. Perhaps Whiff wants to cover all the angles.
The Labrador low is giving up and getting sucked into Whiff’s circulation, joining with a ripple on Whiff’s trailing front to form a new storm, which isn’t exactly a son of Whiff, so I guess I won’t call it Whiffson. (I’m reserving that name for a storm way back in Florida.) This new storm will be dubbed “Whifflab,” to indicate its mixed origins.
The flow over Europe seems to be swinging from southeast to southwest, though Igor remains strong in the north. A break in the cold for Scandinavia seems likely, but across the North Sea it looks like the British Isle get no break from rain, rain, and rain.
LOCAL VIEW —The last of the lull—
(click maps to enlarge)
To our west it looks like Chicago didn’t even get a 24 hour break from the cold, before it came roaring right back. The cold up in Canada is impressive, especially when you consider it is basically home-grown cold, without much help from a cross-polar-flow. You can see the boundary between the milder Pacific air and arctic air goes out to sea over Seattle, and continues off shore north to Alaska, indicating Pacific air has been driven back, though there does seem to be a sort of ghost-Chinook east of the Rockies, but it can’t overpower the cold, which is chilling the heartland as we on the east coast enjoy yet another break in our yo-yo winter.
By the way, that weak low south of Cape Cod is “Whiffson,” and represents the area of rain over Florida I have been regarding with deep suspicion for days. It did come up the coast after all, though it is very weak. As I did the chores after dark last night some big fat snowflakes began falling, and I watched them very carefully to see if they’d intensify, however they didn’t. However you have to keep an eye on these innocent-looking features. Sometimes the computer models don’t even see them, until POW. They are upon you.
The stars shone dimly before daybreak, through a gauze of high cloud, and now the sun is rising as a smear of bright brass in that webbing of cirrus. It is delightfully mild, this side of the front, and the warmth had snuck north all the way to the southern suburbs of Montreal, where it is above freezing, though Montreal itself is in the upper 20’s.
This is our day of rest before a week of storms. Hopefully the first will just miss us to the south, but we can wait until tomorrow to face that. Today we watch the first storm, which I’ll dub “Luller,” passing to our north, and look down to Texas at “Lullerson,” which is next in line. For the most part, however, I’m just going to enjoy not wearing a hat.
The map below is the initial run of the GFS, (a Dr. Ryan Maue map from WeatherBELL,) and shows the home-grown cold over Canada, that Minnesota is below zero (-17 Celsius), yet again, a ghost-Chinook of warmth east of the Canadian Rockies, the sneaky plume of warmth heading up to Montreal ahead of the cold front, and the fact that, mild as it may seem, we couldn’t quite stay above freezing last night, here in New Hampshire.
LOCAL VIEW —Evening Update—
“Luller” moved to our north today, bringing us rain showers as its cold front swung past. A lot of the rain and snow associated with the front has dried up as moves towards us, and is continuing to do so as “Lullerson” starts up from Texas. (I’m ignoring that little ripple on the front over Virginia, assuming it will ripple by without developing much. If it develops at all [which doesn’t show in the radar], it would “steal energy” from Lullerson.)
I’m a little worried about Lullerson’s snow coming further north than forecast. Each time they run the computer model it’s position is just a bit further north. And that is an impressive blob of moisture it is bringing north with it. So I’ll probably try to cut my writing short and hit the hay early tonight.
However I have to mention that something I wrote a year ago, called “Groundhog Stew,” got over fifty hits today. A lot are coming through Facebook, (and I haven’t figured out how to trace the source.) I suppose it happened because today was “Groundhog Day,” and someone chanced upon my old piece and liked it, even though it has nothing to do with Groundhog Day. Here it is: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/02/04/groundhog-stew/
That was written on February 4th, and the funny thing is that on February 2nd last year I actually did write something about Groundhog’s Day, and its relationship to the old holiday called “Candlemas,” and that hasn’t had a single hit today. (I’m sort of glad, because I was a bit grouchy and cynical when I wrote it:) https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/02/03/candlemas-or-a-ground-hogs-day/
Anyway, just an interesting observation about traffic on the web.
FEBRUARY 2 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—
FEBRUARY 3 —DMI MORNING MAPS—west-bound east-bound train wreck—
The “Snout of Igor” over Europe is getting attacked from both sides. “Whiff” has managed to push northeast of Iceland, the first storm to take that route in a while, and is attacking from the Barents Sea side, while the series of wrong way lows is attacking from the East Siberian Sea on the East side. Rongwe 1 dissipated as it moved towards the Kara Sea, and Rongwe 2 now moves in its wake into the Laptev Sea, with a trailing Rongwe 3 behind it. Rongwe 2’s circulation will orbit Rongwe 3 out over the Pole, and the flow behind the two storms will be distinctly cross-polar, from Siberia to Alaska.
Igor seems likely to duck beneath the onslaught to the north and to some degree back out of Europe, but to bulge across the Pole behind the onslaught.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET —Atlantic surge—
The Icelandic Low is reforming as the “Snout of Igor” is backed away from Scandinavia. The first warm front is pushing north in Scandinavia in a long time. As “Whiff” weakens between Iceland and Norway “Wifflab” builds to its south, and Britain is hit by more stong winds and rain. “Whiffson” and “Luller” are appearing at the lower left., and are expected to merge and head straight across to England by Wednesday, which doesn’t support the rebuilding of the Icelandic Low and the Old Pattern. However all of Europe is enjoying a southerly flow something like December’s, except the people who ran away to the Mediterranean to avoid the storms. The southern storm track remains.
LOCAL VIEW —STORM TO OUR SOUTH—
LOCAL VIEW —FRINGE OF STORM CLIPPING US
It is a cooler day, grey and now with a light snow falling. It reminds me of the Robert Frost poem, “Dust Of Snow.”
The way a crow
Shook down on me
The dust of snow
From a hemlock tree
Has given my heart
A change of mood
And saved some part
Of a day I had rued.
LOCAL VIEW —Storm One, Over and Done. Storm two’s sorrow comes tomorrow.
It’s pretty amazing that so much precipitation can just slide off the radar screen in so little time, but it shows you the storm was a slider, and not a digger. It just slid out to sea, which is fine with me. The storms that really clobber us stall and just sit by Cape Cod.
Already we have a “Winter Storm Watch” for the next storm, which you can see gathering in Texas. Another one will come after that for the weekend. So I may be too busy to write for a while.
Pity, for I have a bee in my bonnet. I’m working on something funny about a huge flock of robins out by the flood control reservoir. Rather than, “The First Robin of Spring” it will be called, “The 79th Robin of Winter.”
Just to keep things interesting, the State Inspector paid our Chilkdcare a visit this morning. (No comment.)
FEBRUARY 3 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
Ice is flowing south again through Fram Strait. Will comment more in the morning.
FEBRUARY 4 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
The cross-polar-flow from Siberia to Canada is back, behind Rongwe 3 as it was swung out to the Pole by Rongwe 2.
Flow is from the north in Fram Strait. The big jam of ice between Svalbard and Greenland will be shoved south. (Ice extents are currently above-normal in that strait.)
Atlantic warmth from the south is invading up the west coast of Norway.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET
“Whiff” is fading fast and much weaker ( 992 mb) but made it much further north than most storms have been able to make it, recently. “Whifflab” is south of Iceland and very strong, ( 947 mb) but is occluded and weakening. To its south “Whiffson” is heading straight for Ireland and Great Britain, where they must be sick of these storms. What is interesting about “Whiffson” is that as it does the typical loop-de-loop up the English Channel and around Scotland, a bunch of its energy will kick south into the Mediterranean storm track, while another bunch refuels the Icelandic Low.
You can’t bet on all horses and expect any winnings. With only half the energy going into the Icelandic Low the low will get flabby towards the weekend. However “Igor” has no reinforcements I can see, as a lot of his strength is pouring north towards the Pole. Europe may have a time where the weather has “subtle features,” with no big news to write home about. I hope they enjoy the quiet, while it lasts.
LOCAL VIEW —Winter Storm Warning—
The switch from a “watch” to a “warning” occurs when the snow is expected to start within 24 hours. Currently they are predicting we’ll get 8-14 inches. So I’ll be rushing about getting ready today.
9:30 AM Actually it is a lovely day with bright sunshine and little wind, stirring the sap in the maples. I’m looking around, trying to see signs a crafty old farmer would see, back in the days before satellites and weather-radios.
The pre-dawn night seemed starry and still, which means a high pressure is cresting, and you can expect the barometer to fall. Then the dawn was a lovely rose, as an unapparent veil of high clouds was lit by the sun, which activates the “red-sky at morning; sailor’s take warning” old saw. However the high clouds then vanished, which activated the old saw, “When the sky is feckless blue; rain or snow in a day or two.” (Also old timers would stroke their jaws, looking at a cold and clear sky, and call it a “weathermaker.”)
When you come right down to it, just about any weather is sure sign of storm, if you are a prophet of doom. The only thing alerting me is the fact the weather might get worse is that the jet’s contrails, high in the sky, are not dissipating, and instead stay and expand, like long seeded clouds. That’s a sign of my own that fair weather won’t last, but I don’t suppose it counts, because back in the old days they didn’t have contrails.
FEBRUARY 4 — DMI AFTERNOON MAPS— Cross-polar-flow
LOCAL VIEW —Here it comes—
LOCAL VIEW —WEDENSDAY 5:00 AM—
Although the radar shows snow, at this point it is all evaporating before it hits the ground. This both cools and moistens the air overhead. Now I should do a final few chores before it starts falling.
5:45 AM Snow has started and is immediately heavy.
FEBRUARY 5 —DMI MORNING MAPS—Cold crossing Pole
The cross-polar-flow is established, for the time being, and you can see a tongue of very cold air moving across from Siberia, towards Canada. Meanwhile milder Atlantic air is flowing up Norway’s west coast and thawing Barents Sea.
What is left of “Whiff” is in Fram Strait, confusing the southward flow of ice there.
QUICK VIEW OF UK MET
“Whiflab” is weakening and drifting southeast back towards Cape Farewell as “Whifson” is a strong 947 mb gale hammering Ireland. Lord, they must be getting sick of these storms.
I guess that is “Lullerson” crossing the Atlantic to the lower left.
Igor looks less like an arctic high, and more benign, as south winds are over much of Europe.
THE VOLUME OF ARCTIC SEA ICE HAS INCREASED 50% IN ONE YEAR
There is an interesting post about this at WUWT. It actually seems to be focusing on data from last October, but we’ve been watching the ice recently go the “wrong way” in Fram Strait, and I assume that continues to pack up the ice, rather than allowing it to be dispersed. The thicker ice shows in the Navy map of thickness, curving north of Alaska in the Beaufort Gyre.
Another factor to watch is the open water in Barents Sea. Is this allowing warmer water to enter the Pole? Or is the open water more exposed to cooling and mixing, and is cooler water entering the Pole?
Here is the WUWT post on increasing ice-volume: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/05/cryosat-shows-arctic-sea-ice-volume-up-50-from-last-year/#more-102678
LOCAL VIEW —2:30 STORM UPDATE—
We are currently in that “hole” in the radar map, but it is still snowing. I suppose the snow is so fine that it is like drizzle, and doesn’t show on a radar. Occasionally we get a gang of bigger flakes falling, which I suppose would be a sprinkle of rain in the summer.
It was a relatively windless morning. In fact it was completely calm when the snow first began falling, and with the twigs and limbs of trees not hushing or roaring with wind, you could hear the actual sound of millions of flakes falling in the pre-dawn darkness. The barometer was in no mood to fall either, as the pressure remained up over 30.00 inches.
Recently the pressure has begun to fall fairly rapidly, (down to 29.71 at 2:00,) as the low approaches from the west and the coastal low develops to the south. The wind is also picking up a little. We could get a final burst of snow as that coastal low goes by, but everything is sliding along swiftly, and there is little sign of one of those storms that stalls and dumps feet of snow on us. We have roughly ten inches and might get a couple more. It is a fairly dry snow, and the roads haven’t been that bad, even when they were not plowed. It was like driving in sand. The treacherous snow is the sticky stuff. Besides packing into a good snowball, it packs down on streets and becomes a layer everyone slips and slides on.
My break is over. Back to work.
LOCAL VIEW —8:15 REPORT— Clean up
The coastal low is moving off, but one blob of snow, the remains of the original low, will pass over, making a mess of my clean up.
The barometer got down to 29.68 at 4:00, but has now risen to 29.75. It really was a small storm. (Ireland keeps getting pressures below 29.00 this winter.) Still, eleven inches of snow is more than they’ve had in most of England all winter.
Besides snow-blowing all the drives and the Childcare parking lot twice, I lumbered the snowblower across the pasture and blew off the farm pond. Usually I do this because if you don’t, the weight of the snow pushes the ice down, water wells up through cracks, and the snow on top of the ice turns to slush, and the pond is useless until the slush freezes. (I described this in greater detail last winter, in a post called ” A Surprising Zamboni,” https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/01/19/a-surprizing-zamboni/ )
However this year I actually think the ice is so thick the eleven inches of fluffy snow wouldn’t have pushed it down enough. Though it has been a yo-yo winter, the mild spells are measured in hours as the cold spells are measured in days. Also, since we had a decent snow in December, which was melted by a thawing rain, I doubt there has even been more than an inch or two on the ground at any one time. That means the Pond’s ice has never been insulated by an igloo-like cover of snow, and has constantly been thickening. The rains and thaws have only added ice to the top, because they were followed so swiftly by freezes. The ice is likely two feet thick. Cars were racing on a lake fifteen miles from here, last weekend.
(In fact a problem is starting to become apparent over a range of hills from here, in the Contoocook River Valley. I’ve never seen that big stream iced over as early as it was this year, and all the thaws and rains have done is create brief freshets that heap the ice up in a jumble in places, before the next big freeze. There is actually more ice, altogether, than there would have been if there hadn’t been thaws and rains, for the open water has refrozen so swiftly and thickly. Consequently there is concern about ice-jams [and the floods that result from ice damming-up rivers], when the next freshet happens.)
Actually I blew off the pond because it creates a place for the kids at the Childcare to play. I suppose I could have blown off the pasture, but the pond is more fun. Also there is a secret strategy involved. When kids run on ice, they can’t get much traction, and their feet are a blur of energy even as they don’t travel very far. This makes it easier for me to keep up with them, (and to catch them if need be), and also they are exhausted by lunch and sleep soundly during “quiet time.”
So you see, I’m not as dumb as I look.
(I forgot to name the storm that just passed over. Although it did involve a Pacific storm that came inland over Washington State and headed southeast, it also involved low pressure and moisture from the very end of Luller’s cold front down on the Gulf of Mexico coast of Texas, so I guess it might as well be “Lullerthird.”) (It will soon appear on the UK Met maps.)
(I don’t like the looks of the isobars in Canada. The Pole exporting cold this way.)
FEBRUARY 5 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
The cold air associated with the cross-polar-flow is very apparent.
Rongwe 2 has made it to the Kara Sea and is in touch with Altantic air. Rongwe 3 is fading into general low pressure west of Greenland. A new low, Rongwe 4, is appearing over East Siberia, but looks like ti will be blocked by the cross-polar high pressure, and head across to Alaska.
Icelandic Low is actually double barreled, with a long fetch of east winds north of Iceland and a long fetch of west winds far to the south. Over on WUWT the blogger “Richard111” brought up an interesting idea, saying the long fetch from the west might defect the Gulf Stream more to the east, and towards Spain rather than Norway.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
The double-barreled Icelandic Low I mentioned above is very apparent on this map, as is the long westerly fetch across the Atlantic. Usually the western low (“Whifflab”) would be weaker and the eastern low (Whiffson) would be stronger, but some of Whiffson’s energy has kicked ahead to the south coast of France, forming “Whiffthird,” which will take the southern track and hit Italy tomorrow. Behind Whiffthird is Lullerson, on a southern track, however it seems likely to come up the English Channel.
This is a hybrid pattern, and can’t decide if the Icelandic Low is established, or the Southern storm track through the Mediterranean is established, and tries to do both. Ordinarily a storm track through the Mediterranean would have east winds to its north, however for the moment there are south winds to the north, as if the Icelandic Low ruled. However ordinarily south winds would prevent the southern storm track from being so persistent.
The very fact storms keep taking a southerly route suggests Igor’s retreat to the east may only be temporary, and the Icelandic Low may fade. It may turn out that just when England is expecting spring, they will get bitter east winds and snow. (The English blogger Anthony Holmes wryly suggested as much, when some branches of his cherry tree bloomed in the mild spells last December.)
LITTLE OPEN WATER LEFT ON THE GREAT LAKES
Hat tip again to Joseph D’Aleo at WeatherBELL, who included this map with many others in his weekly “Great Lakes Update.”
Compare this map with the map of a week ago, (above, in this post,) and consider the fact we did have a thaw and a warm-up, and you can see how ineffectual the thaws have been. The ice is increasing rapidly. Then consider the fact it is more likely to be below zero (-17 Celsius) than above freezing (0 Celsius) over the next week, and it seems fairly certain the ice will nearly completely cover the lakes by Joseph D;Aleo’s next weekly update.
For me it means my west winds will be meaner and colder right into April.
FEBRUARY 6 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
The Siberian air continues across the Pole towards Canada.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
If you follow the 996 mb around, you can see a triangle (or, if the winter dark has made you morbid, a skull,) with three long fetches. One is from the Azores up through the English Channel, one from the North Sea across Iceland to Greenland, and one from Baffin Bay down to the Azores.
As “Lullerson” heads up towards the English Channel it will be interesting to see how much southern warmth gets pulled north, or whether it gets kicked east into the southern storm tack.
“Lullerthird’s” warm front is just peeking into the map’s lower left corner.
Igor is backing off the map.
LOCAL VIEW —HERE COMES THE COLD—
As Lullerthird heads off to the northeast, there seems to be nothing but northwest flow left behind, right across to the Rockies. No signs of a Chinook.
Here it is a beautiful starry dawn-twilight, with the fresh snow glittering stars of its own. In the dark sky Venus is brilliant, low to the southeast, the red stinger of Scorpio is to the south, with pale yellow Saturn higher above it. And to the southeast and high is red Mars. It is cold, down around ten degrees.
I have a dentist appointment this morning, and likely will not be a happy camper this afternoon.
LOCAL VIEW —Rumors of storm— Frigid Evening
This is a great example of a feature that might not be apparent on a model’s map, and which a model might not even see. I am always looking south for brewing trouble, but didn’t see much on the weather map. The radar tells another story. Not that it won’t all slide out to sea far south of me, but I’m sure people in North Carolina know snow when they see it. And I’m going to keep an eye on what is left behind, on the tail end of Lullerthird’s cold front.
It is very cold here tonight. Temperatures were up in the mid-twenties (-4 Celsius) in the bright sunshine, but as soon as old Sol slid behind the the hills you could feel the cold was strong. (Likely it was the low dew points, though I sometimes think there is some quality air has that we haven’t invented an instrument to measure, yet.) Now it is five hours later and down around 4 degrees. (-16 Celsius.) That is the sort of sunset-drop-in-temperatures you see in the dry air of a desert, and stirs a bit of hope in me, because it shows the sun is higher and stronger.
There was a lot of gossip and hoopla about some big storm that was suppose to hit us over the weekend. I heard talk of us getting two feet of snow. I was not thrilled by the prospect of more snow-blowing to do, but not overly concerned, because when the models see a storm seven days in the future the storms more often than not are altered, if they exist at all, when the seven days have passed. Sure enough, the forecast for the weekend now only is for scattered snow-showers.
Being something of an alarmist myself, I won’t rub it in when I next see the guy who was trumpeting his dire prophecy of two feet of snow. He’s likely sucking lemons and laying low. I know how bad it feels to have made such a moron of yourself. I think I learned my lesson when I was thirteen.
Besides the fresh and new wonder of long-range-forecasts, I was also clobbered by hormones and infatuated by a girl who stood waiting for the bus with me and around five other teenagers, every morning. She had a way of tossing her hair when she spoke that I deemed indicative of a great many admirable things. To impress her I said, on a Monday, “No school, next Thursday.” She tossed her hair.
I then suffered hour upon hour of agony, as I waited for the next long-range-forecast, and learned for the very first time that such things, like women, can change.
When Thursday dawned sunny, I hoped the girl had forgotten. She hadn’t. She looked at me, tossed her hair, and said, “So? Where’s your big storm?” The other five teenagers found her wit humorous, but I sucked lemons and then concluded that hair-tossing is likely a sign of immaturity and a low IQ.
Ever since I have been slow to trumpet a dire prophecy, and tend to be more reserved, and to say non-committal things such as, “Keep an eye on that rain down over Florida.”
There is currently not a single storm in our ten-day-forecast. To that I will non-committally say, “Humbug.” (Not that such a drought wouldn’t please me.)
FEBRUARY 6 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
We tend to think of an arctic outbreak as heading south into the subarctic, however this one is heading across the Arctic Sea. Because it is bumping against Altantic air on one side and Pacific air on the other, I would not be all that surprised to see a storm form on either edge, as it crosses. That might wrap the cold around and keep it from coming down through Canada to freeze my socks off.
Obviously, with this cold crossing so near the Pole, the DMI graph of temperatures north of eighty degrees latitude will plunge, however it is interesting to notr arctic temperatures are still above normal:
One might wonder if “Igor” in Siberia has exhausted his supply of cold air, sending this shot towards Canada. So I look to Dr Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL map (GFS initial run) to see if Siberia is depleted, in terms of cold:
Hmm. It looks like Igor is saying, “Take that! And there’s more where that came from!”
Also note the cold extends back west towards Europe. Igor may have backed away from the Icelandic High, but he remains a potent threat.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET
The Icelandic Low has become flabby. It needs to do some calisthenics. “Lullerson” seems a bit slow to obey the models and head up the English Channel and across the North Sea to Norway. Likely he will eventually get around to it, but the reluctance seems to suggest energy is being lost, crossing Spain to join the southern Mediterranean storm track.
Across the Atlantic “Lullerthird” is starting his cross-Atlantic voyage. Models suggest that rather than up to Iceland, the storm will head directly for (Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!) Ireland and England. I think those people may be united for the first time in a century. If that storm had a neck, they would wring it.
Perhaps we should rename the Icelandic Low the “Britannic Low”.
FEBRUARY 7 —DMI MORNING MAPS— Impressive high pressure
That is an impressively strong high pressure area moving across from Siberia to Canada. It indicates cold, heavy air sinking and pressing down, yet at the same time its Canadian side is drawing some milder Pacific air east along the Alaskan coast. Try to wrap your mind around that. Is it colder or is it warmer?
Another interesting development is the joining of two flows, one from central Siberia to Canada, and one from Finland to Canada. It looks like the flow from Finland will take over and predominate over the next few days, creating a cross-polar-flow from the lower right to the upper left. I am unsure whether the air in this flow will be Atlantic or Continental, or a mixture, but it seems unlikely to be as cold as the pure, unadulterated, 100 proof Siberian air in the current flow.
These flows are not contributing to the flow of ice out of the Arctic Sea through Fram Strait, and seem likely to jam ice into the Beaufort Gyre instead.
The minus-thirty isotherm island above the Pole on the temperature map is is the shape of a sideways heart. This is convincing proof someone is going to need warmth on Valentine’s Day.
FEBRUARY 7 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
The heart is gone, just above the Pole on the map. (To reassure hopeless romantics, I’ll point out a new little heart has appeared up towards Bering Strait.) The heart I refer to was formed by the minus thirty isotherm. It looks like that air has warmed to around minus twenty-seven.
I always point out when Atlantic air around freezing comes north and swiftly cools to minus ten or even minus twenty, so it would be unfair of me not to point out this cold pool warmed. What warmed it?
My own view is that, though ice itself is an excellent insulator, there are enough cracks in the ice to allow seawater to warm the air passing only a meter or two above it. However others suggest the CO2 in the atmosphere above bounces down infrared radiation, even when the physical sun isn’t shining. Usually they speak in terms of tenths of a degree, not three or four degrees, but it gives you something to think about.
Some discussion of this subject can be read here: http://wattsupwiththat.com/2014/02/03/arctic-layer-cake/
My own view, as a person who simply watches what happens, is that truly frigid Siberian air is indeed warmed as it crosses the Arctic Sea. I think the warming, when the water isn’t open, is a very shallow layer, close to the surface, and that a map of temperatures 100 meters up, rather than only 2 meters up, would show less warming. It certainly does seem that, as soon as such air gets over land again, the 2 meter temperature plumits more than it would drop if the layer of warmed air was deep.
In any case these maps are interesting. Very high pressure towards the Pacific, low pressure towards the Atlantic, and between the two a stream made of isobars heading from Siberia to Canada.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET
“Lullerson” managed the left turn and headed up the English Channel to the North Sea, but at 975 mb is no big deal. In fact this counts as good weather in Jolly Old England, even as they look west to a 946 mb “Lullerthird” bearing down on them.
Another interesting feature on this map is the low pressure kicking back from the Icelandic Low to the wrong side of Greenland. (It actually was more obvious earlier, and may be fading away.) It is sort of like the Icelandic Low is having an identity crisis, and in part wants to become the Labrador Low.
LOCAL VIEW — Thirteen storms to ignore
Look west young man, Look west. “Ryan,” who drew this map, will never be accused of missing the “Big One.” There are twelve storms in the west. Of course, we are protected by a huge, dry, arctic High Pressure, but you never know, especially with even colder air dragging an arctic front down from the north. A ripple could come east. Stranger things have happened.
The thirteenth “storm” is over Northeast Georgia (I think that listed low pressure of 1032 inches is a mistake, and “Ryan” meant 1022 inches.) It has a ghost front trailing back to a wrinkle in the isobars over Louisiana, which is creating the snow you see over Arkansas. Likely this will all get shunted out to sea south of us by the enormous and frigid arctic high pressing down from the north.
The fourteenth low is the one I’m most wary of. Where is it? Way down in the Bay of Campeche, in the southern Gulf of Mexico, at the very end of Lullerthird’s cold front. It could make a mess of my plans, which are based on a period of snow-drought.
I’m pretty tired, having wrestled with the snow-blower a lot. I snow-blowed the inch that fell on the skating pond after I last snow-blowed it, and also expanded the edges of the rink a bit. The weight of the snow was pressing down on the ice, and as I expanded the rink I started running into slush, from water welling up through cracks. Likely I got the snow off in the nick of time, as slush doesn’t blow, and only clogs up my snow-blower.
After I got it unclogged I went to our Childcare playground and followed the chugging blower around in a small circle, blowing the snow into the middle. Then I spiraled slowly out, always blowing the snow into the middle, until I had created a considerable heap of snow. I have vague plans to carve an igloo out of it, (the snow is too dry and powdery to properly roll snowballs,) but even if I never get around to that I know kids will make a pile of snow be fun.
Anyway, that’s the Childcare agenda for next week. Skating on the pond and building a dry-snow igloo. (Sledding is not good when it is so cold the snow squeaks.) What could possibly go wrong?
A drenching rainstorm from the Bay of Campeche, perhaps? (That might surprise many, but not me.) (When you survive as long as I have you tend to become a bit pessimistic at times.)
I’m heading off to Boston tomorrow to visit family, so entries may be sparse. Have a great weekend!
FENRUARY 8 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
Nice sunny morning, with temperatures down around zero (-17 Celsius.) I’m just posting maps for the record. I’ll try to catch up later.
FEBRUARY 8 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
Cross-polar flow continues.
QUICK LOOK AT UK MET
Another gale hitting Ireland. The following gale at the very bottom of the map looks like it will stay further south and run into northern Spain and France.
LOCAL VIEW —GHOST FRONT ACROSS NATION—
Radar shows what the map doesn’t. I’ll comment more in the morning. (Just back from Boston late.)
FEBRUARY 9 —LOCAL VIEW— A ghost snow
It’s a dull grey dawn, with brilliant Venus barely able to penetrate the high haze, more of a smudge than a star. Though nothing shows on radar, the lightest snow is falling like dust. An insane cardinal is singing its fool head off in the cold, wan dusk, around two months early but definitely staking a claim on the snow-scape. Though no front shows on the map, snow south of the Great Lakes marks the prow of more cold air, bullying its way east, cold on top of cold, dry on top of dry, squeezing water from air you would swear was to dry to generate snow.
The map only shows the stub of a front north of Maine, and another stub crossing Florida, however it is fairly obvious a new boundary exists between the two. We are in an invisible warm sector, with temperatures “up” to fifteen. (-9 Celsius) An invisible storm is heading our way. I’ll be out there tomorrow morning shoveling invisible snow with my invisible shovel. Fortunately invisible snow isn’t heavy and wet. Perhaps I’ll be able to use my invisible broom.
The last snow may have been dry here, but it was sticky and wet near the ocean down in Boston. Driving along Storrow Drive the Charles River Park was full of snowmen. One was built around the trunk of a tree, so branches protruded like arms, creating a snow-ent Tolkien would have smiled at. However invisible snow will likely be dry and powdery even in Boston, where the Charles Rives is frozen shore to shore.
The Great Lakes are increasingly frozen, but enough water shows between floes to warm winds and create uplift, so an invisble low becomes barely visible, like a ghost in a sunbeam. This faint impression will “phase” with another faint impression made by uplift as winds hit the Appalachian Mountains, and give many a surprise tomorrow morning. Dare I say four inches of fluff?
Some are hoping the blessing of rain, now charging inland over parched California, will continue east and warm us by the end of the week, but I have my doubts. I’m too conscious of that cross-polar-flow coming down from the top of our map. Winter is settling south and will dig in its heels, I fear, when any warmth tries to dislodge it. (Sometimes that generates a storm, but we’ll wait and see about that.)
It is starting to dawn on some that this is a cold winter. Hmm. Where have they been? Indoors a lot, I suppose. I’m starting to notice articles about boats requiring icebreakers to free them, in the Great Lakes, and even about the Great Lakes having record amounts of ice. Again I wonder, where have these reporters been? We’ve been watching the lake’s ice since December.
FEBRUARY 9 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
You couldn’t ask for a better example of non-zonal polar circulation and cross-polar-flow.
THE WHOLE WEB IS WATCHING (You can’t correct without it being noticed.)
The ice extent in Lake Superior dropped from 92% to 85% in the middle of a sub-zero night, without a storm to rip apart the ice, which seems very odd. Perhaps it involves some sort of correction or adjustment being made to the data. However when such corrections are made they should be explained, especially when news items have come out about the 92% setting a new record.
Chris Beal, (AKA “N.J. Snow Fan”) immediately noticed and documented the drop in ice extent.
Actually this deserves a post of its own.
FEBRUARY 9 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—interesting arctic contortions
The interesting features (to me) on these maps is, first, the way the cross-polar-flow has shifted clockwise, and now is predominantly from Finland to the Canadian arctic archipelago, which seems bound to eventually press less cold Atlantic air north of Greenland and north of the archipelago. And, second, the new wrong-way storm which is moving in the wake of the strong high pressure that crossed north of Bering Strait last week. I’ll dub this weak low “Rongwe 5.” (“Rongwe 4” preceded that strong high pressure, but I failed to name it as I was dealing with a snowstorm in my neck of the woods., at that time.)
Rongwe 5 represents the last in a series of deliveries of Siberian air across to Canada. The new cross-polar-flow from Finland may represent a cutting-off of such deliveries, especially if the slot of Atlantic air pierces the arctic cold all the way to Alaska.
Far to the south a test of my pet theories is about to occur. All eyes way down south in the USA are fixed on west-to-east patterns, wondering if the flood of Pacific air giving California its first rain in a long, long time can charge right across the USA, wiping winter off the map. The cross-polar-flow is not considered. Perhaps it is not worthy, and I am wrong to consider it. We shall see, this week.
If you have any experience in brawling you know the blows that send you to la-la land are the ones you never see coming. You watch for the jabs, coming from straight ahead, and the left and right crosses coming from the sides, and the uppercut coming from below your chin. The one thing you never expect is an over-cut, coming down from the top. However that is what a cross-polar-flow delivers.
QUICK LOOK AT UK MET —a totally messed up map—
I am glad I am not a meteorologist in England. This map simply cannot make up its mind. I’m fairly certain it is teetering on the edge, and there are equal chances of it falling left or right. Likely every time they run their computer models they get a different “solution.” Even in the relative short-term, the GFS and European models have a divergence in their solutions.
It would be refreshing to see a TV weatherman appear, some night, and look at the camera, and confess, “To be honest, we don’t have a clue.”
However they have around a fifty percent chance of being right, so they might as well make a stab at a forecast.
“Lullerthird” is weakening north of Scotland, and the next gale, (which I suppose is “Lullerfourth,”) is stunning the people of the British Isles by actually not hitting them. Instead it is slamming into France and northern Spain.
In other words, the above map is teetering between the reestablishment of the Icelandic Low, and the establishment of a southern storm track through the Mediterranean.
In the lower left corner of the map you can see yet another low poking out into the Atlantic. According to the dubious models, this one (“Lullerfifth”) will once again split the difference, and again clobber the British Isles. (The GFS says on Wednesday, and the European on on Thursday.)
This has happened so often that perhaps it is wrong to speak of “teetering” between two patterns. Perhaps we can chalk it down as a third pattern. Not the “Icelandic Low Pattern”, and not the “Mediterranean Storm Track Pattern”, but the “Britannic Low Pattern.”
The storms are suppressed far enough south to start giving Scotland and Wales some snow in higher ground, and some snow in Scandinavia as well, but most of Europe remains in a southerly flow.
LOCAL VIEW —A puff of snow—
It is nice to see my “ghost-storm” get some sort of recognition, on the maps.
It has been a good weekend, with weather only a side detail. If you obsess too much about the weather, this time of year, it can contribute to becoming “shack-whacky,” (once known as “cabin fever”). Therefore my wife and I got the heck out of our house, going to Boston yesterday, and today I helped another get the heck out of their house, as they drove an hour-plus to visit us.
Sometimes it is the little things that keep you sane. Besides making the effort to meet with friends who are more than an hour away, I also made sure to simply sit in the sun, when there was sun, and observe. Last weekend I observed a swarm of midwinter crane flies. This week I observed an icicle.
You might not think an icicle is interesting, however actually it was two icicles, growing side by side, one fat and with lots of drops dripping, and one slender and shorter, but with few drops dripping. I made it into a race, and placed my bets.
It turned out the longer icicle, despite the sub-freezing temperature, was growing shorter and moire stubby. The sun against the south-facing shingles could melt snow and generate a flow of above-freezing water that flooded down the longer icicle, melting its tip. However the occasional drip down the shorter icicle was so cooled that, by the time it reached the tip, it was already clouding with slush, and swiftly froze, lengthening the tip.
That was just the beginning. When the wind blew, the shorter icicle suddenly had an increased flow, and grew shorter, while the fat stubby icicle’s flow shrank, and it resumed growing.
Then, even though the wind stopped, the sun ducked beneath a cloud. Everything changed. No water at all dripped from the slender icicle, as the thick one started growing two separate tips.
Ha! And they say we country folk have no excitement in our lives!
That was just the microcosm. In the macrocosm the dawn began grey, with the lightest possible snow falling from an overcast so thin I could see the brighter stars, and then the clouds grew brassy, and then briefly peach, and then the brilliant sun evaporated every cloud and the sky was brilliant blue. By the time I went to church I could feel the sun’s warmth, as maples do, though I don’t share the maple’s odd habit of sprouting buckets that hang from their skin.
By the time I left church a few high mare’s tails were appearing, along with some low, grey wolf-cumulus. They thickened as I had lunch and afternoon coffee with old friends, and as I waved good-bye a few fine flakes were again falling. By the time I put the goats in their stables at nightfall we had an inch.
Winter is still winning, but the sun is starting to be a force to be reckoned with.
FEBRUARY 10 —DMI MORNING MAPS—
The weak low Rongwe 5 continues to drift across the pole, and now is sort of a mockery of a zonal flow in the midst of a very non-zonal flow. All the low pressure is in the Atlantic and all the high pressure is in the Pacific, with cross-polar-flow between the two. In theory all the cold air in Eurasia should be sucked across the Pole and wind up down in the USA, likely in my back pasture. However perhaps I am just taking a gloomy view, it being a Monday.
QUICK GLANCE AT UK MET MAP
“Lullerthird continues to flounder about north of Scotland, cut off and occluded but still a healthy 965 mb gale, as “Lullerfourth” clips Spain and eumbles across the Bay of Biscay to the French coast. Though only a 983 mb low is has strong winds on its west side hitting the Spanish coast.
Further west “Lullerfifth” is disorginized, (as is the entire Icelandic Low,) and now seems to involve a northern extrention which seemingly was kicked off a vauge shadow of a Labrador Low. That Labrador feature comes and goes as if it is part of this pattern-that-can’t-make-up-its-mind. The GFS has Lullerfifth become a respectable Icelandic Low, and kick a strong secondary storm across Scotland and into Norway on Wednesday.. Other models make it look like Lullerfifth is just going to mill around, and the next split-the-difference gale to clobber the British Isles will be a weak low now departing my area, which I am dubbing “Ghost.” It ought appear on the UK Met map tonight, weak at first but getting stronger as it crosses the Atlantic, and crashing into England on Friday night, just in time to spoil the weekend. Of course, the way things are going over there they may get hit by both storms.
The rest of Europe looks more benign, though the folk vacationing in the Mediterranean likely are griping about less than perfect sunbathing. It must be rough.
There is a languid southerly flow up through much of Europe, which is interesting because it seems likely this air will be the source region for the cross-polar-flow, and make the cross-polar-flow milder.
LOCAL VIEW —The southbound freight meets the eastbound express—
A strong flow of Pacific air is bringing California needed rain, and some think that air will stream east across the USA and warm us by the weekend. That air is the “eastbound express.” Meanwhile I’ve been watching Siberian air get shunted across the Pole and dumped into Canada. My own pet theory is that air has to surge south. That air is the “southbound freight.” I figure the crash ought make some storms, and my home and business are likely to be on the cold and snowy side.
The map doesn’t show much now. My “ghost storm” is drifting away in the Gulf of Maine, and has been legitimized to non-ghost status by a cold front trailing to a secondary, “Ghostson,” down in Georgia. The radar shows a little snow and rain, but I imagine most will slip out to sea. What I’m focusing more on is that little low down on the southern tip of Texas, able to tap into Gulf of Mexico moisture, and also that ripple of low pressure descending south through Colorado with just a bit of snow. They are liable to link up. The GFS has a weak low sliding out to sea, but my guard is up.
In February the warmth starts to come back, though the winter is still powerful. This is what breeds some of our biggest storms.
I’ve got to get the porch reloaded with firewood, and also fix the snow-blower.
One thing about running a Childcare is that you are always running over toys with your snow-blower. Or sticks. Or stones where you never would expect a stone to be. Last storm it was a big wad of twine used for baling hay. It bound up the blades and broke three sheer pins. I always stock up on sheer pins, but replacing them is hard on your fingers in the cold. So I put it off, but now I figure I’ve got to do the dratted job.
We really haven’t had all that much snow this winter, but it would not at all surprise me if it started to mount up now.
FEBRUARY 10 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—
“Rongwe 5” continues across the Pole, now more a part of the Atlantic low pressure than a separate identity. While he is pulling a plume of milder Pacific air in behind, he is going to slam that door shut by swinging a slug of Siberian cold right up into that plume, and then on into Alaska and Canada. The real invasion of mildness is likely to be from the Atlantic, over the top of Greenland, and actually oppose the circulation of Rongwe 5 for a while.
The isobars diverge north and northwest of Svalbard, pushing some ice down through Fram Strait while pushing ice further north away into the Beaufort Gyre, and keeping it from entering Fram Strait. It seems only logical that when ice moves in a way that diverges an area of open water should appear. Perhaps this explains the open water northeast of Svalbard, which keeps attempting to freeze over only to reappear.
Even odder is the fact that the open water is “below normal,” in terms of sea-surface temperature, while ice-covered areas around it are “above normal,” according to this map:
The divergent flow can be seen in the map below. Some ice is being sucked down through Fram strait by the winds on the northwest side of the Icelandic Low, but a lot more ice is drifting straight into the Beaufort Gyre.
There. I have actually ended this post talking about sea-ice. I figured I’d better do so because we may be in for a stormy spell where I live in New Hampshire, and that deserves a post of its own. (I think I may repeat the above maps at the start of the next post, as it seems something I should keep in mind.)
This series of posts will be continued at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-equipoise-of-battle/