ARCTIC SEA ICE MAXIMUM —THE PEAK AT THE DEPTH—

This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was, https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/02/11/arctic-sea-ice-recovery-the-equipoise-of-battle/

This series of posts has wandered a long ways from its original intent, which was to discuss the view from the North Pole Camera.  That camera has been gone since September, and we still have roughly 45 days before the new one is set up in April.

April!  That word has a nice ring to it, after the long, hard winter we have been through in the USA, and the long hard winter it looks like we’ll continue to go through for at least the next ten days. In fact the “local view” sections of this post may predominate, as we get through the final weeks of cold and snow.  However eventually the warmth will return, and views from the North Pole Camera will be a refreshing break during hot summer days.

In the mean time views of the Pole are from the Satellites.

FEBRUARY 24 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

FEBRUARY 24  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

“Polo” has drifted off the Pole towards Canada, as an extension of the Icelandic low probes north of Scandinavia. It looks a little like an attempt to recreate the autumnal storm track along the Siberian coast, though of course the Kara and Laptev Seas are now frozen over.

A rather impressive slug of very cold air has been delivered into northern Canada.

A QUICK GLANCE AT THE UK MET MAP

UK Met Feb 24B 12561390 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Very cold air is coming south down the coast of Greenland as mild air heads north up the coast of Norway. The boundary between the two is unclear on this map, but clear if you look at the isotherms. Perhaps a better front should be drawn in. Nature is drawing it, with the string of low pressure systems from the Atlantic up into Barents Sea.  These lows are drawn as occluded remnant lows (that I had names for, “Kwik” and “Skwishzip,”) but are too persistent to be purely remnant.

The only new low is “Thotson,” which has scooted across the Atlantic south of the remnants, but now will stall and loop-de-loop west of Ireland, southeast of Iceland, in a position more like a “Britannic Low” than an “Icelandic Low”

“Thot” himself, which was a major North American Feature south of Hudson Bay and North of the Great Lakes, is now a weak low west of Greenland, but its tertiary low will appear at the lower left and become more of a Labrador Low than an Icelandic Low, perhaps held west by Thot’s  dent in the upper atmosphere. This new low, “Thotertiary,” will combine with the stalled “Thotson,” and beneath the two a long fetch of westerly winds will cross the Atlantic.  When these winds reach Europe they will be asked to do an abrupt, hairpin turn and join the south-to-north flow, but may not be able to make the sharp turn, and may go crashing through the guard rail,  creating a southern storm track into the Mediterranean.

In other words, some influences are trying to create a storm track north of Norway as others try to create a storm track through Spain. I doubt the two can coexist.

It is also interesting to note on these maps how often the southeast displacement of the Icelandic Low, creating the Britannic Low, create winds that blow across the Gulf Stream. This may push the warm surface waters south.  Or perhaps the storms that keep blowing up as they approach the British Isles suck the heat out of the water. Or perhaps both. In any case that water’s temperature has gone from being above normal to below normal, this winter.

LOCAL VIEW  —The bluster is back—

Today was one of those miserable Mondays that make men want to ban the day from calenders. Yesterday we had strong west winds, but it still was thawing, though you could feel the edge coming back to the wind.  The radar map showed a front which hadn’t existed had come into  existence right across the USA:

A battle 123 satsfc (3)A battle 123 rad_nat_640x480

(These maps can be clicked to enlarge them)

Towards the end of the day I headed over to the farm to tend to the goats, and noted the show-shedder roof had done its job, and shed the snow. This makes huge heaps in front of doorways, so I had to do yet more shoveling, to dig slots through the heaps of snow. However when I was done I felt confident I’d face a Monday when I didn’t have to shovel. Wrong.

The snow-shedder roof over the main entrance of the Childcare has such a shallow pitch that, rather than shed the snow all at once, like an avalanche, it tends to slowly ooze snow off the edge, like toothpaste from a tube, giving you plenty of time to carve it away as it overhangs the main entry, and giving the children much to be fascinated by, as it forms a slow curve, moving the speed of a glacier, beside the main entrance. Or that is what happened other years.

This morning,as I arrived at work, consciously vowing to stay serene even though it as a Monday, I was confronted by a three foot tall heap of snow in front of the main entrance, as the snow-shedder roof had waited until I departed the day before, and then dumped a winter’s worth of snow onto my nice, clean, dry walkway.  Nor was it fluffy, powder snow. It was compacted slush, frozen to a crust three inches thick at the top. I couldn’t dent it with a snowshovel, and had to go running for a round-nosed garden shovel. My vow to stay serene was utterly shot.

Then there followed an embarrassing and frantic time of hacking away at frozen crush, and digging at slush that stuck to my shovel, as early arrivals had to be escorted to the kitchen doorway, and the children had to be told to stand by the front window and watch me, so I could watch them as I shoveled.

And then the first snow squall hit.

A battle 124 satsfc (3)A battle 124 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

On the weather map you can see our nice westerly flow abruptly became northerly, as the low I dubbed “Thotertiary” started to blow up to our northeast. On the radar map you can see some decent lake-effect squalls blew south off the still unfrozen parts of Lake Ontario to out west, but doesn’t show our local squalls, as they were from low, tumbling clouds that flew beneath the radar like stealth bombers. Some were white clouds and the snow flew in the gusty wind even as a brilliant sun shone, but others were deep purple and the world would briefly look like the middle of a blizzard, and the roads were coated with white.

Ordinarily I enjoy intense flurries, but I had to drive to the last of a series of appointments at my dentist, and then had to drive back roughly a grand poorer.  Furthermore, smashing through a pothole did something to my exhaust pipe, and my old truck now sounded like a hot rod. It  all combined to make me less than appreciative of the winter wonderland I was a midst.

One thing I don’t understand is why visiting a dentist should be tiring. All you do is sit in a comfortable chair,  and my dentist is a good one, and practically painless. However I always wind up feeling like yawns could dislocate my Novocaine-numbed jaw, and I could sleep for a week. Instead I had to restock the porch with firewood and then get sand and spread it where the slush had refrozen and turned a path to the upstairs entry into a lawyer’s delight. I would have put that sanding off, but my wife was fighting the onset of cabin-fever by holding one of her wonderful dinners for staff and parents. So I had to attend that as well, and attempt to be charming as the Novocaine wore off. And then I had to tend to the goats, and my goats are in a bad mood about the weather turning colder.

But now at long last Monday is over, and I can sit back at my computer and have some fun, looking at maps and trying to guess the neck hay-maker life will deliver at me.

A battle 125 satsfc (3)A battle 125 rad_nat_640x480

You can see “Thotertiary” is getting deeper as it departs stage right, to appear on the UK Met maps, and the radar map shows another northern-track feature south of the Great Lakes, headed this way, though the north winds may push it south of us. However these northern-track features don’t scare me much, as even when they explode on the coast they are often heading away, like “Thotertiary,” and even if we get snow it is powdery fluff.  What worries me are the southern-track storms, especially  when they “phase” with the northern-track storms.  For example, that front-less low over Georgia may want to join up with the patch of snow south of the Great Lakes, and prove that the sum can be greater than the total of the two parts.  (Because both are so weak, I don’t expect much, but I’m keeping an eye on them.)

What concerns me is that low over Georgia looks like a harbinger of a whole series of southern-track storms of increasing size.  If you look west you can see another in north Texas, another in southern California, (with a lot of moisture to its south), and lastly an impressive swirl out in the Pacific.  These feaurures tend to crash into our west coast, giving California much needed rain, and to roll across the USA like bowling balls,  largely divorced from the northern storm track until, sometimes with astonishing speed, they “phase.”

If that should happen I’ll look back on this Monday, and with the rosy glasses of 20-20 hindsight, think of how lovely the white flakes were, swirling in the sun, and how nice it was I could drive all the way to the dentist and back without skidding once.  For I’ll be out behind my snow-blower in two feet of heavy wet snow. And, if I could look at this day that way then, I might as well do it now.

FEBRUARY 25 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

The Pole is starting to export cold down to Canada, and also down the east coast of Greenland,so I expect temperatures up there may rise a little, as the air is replaced by milder Atlantic and European Continantal air via the Barents Sea entrance region, and also  to a lesser degree by Pacific air via Bering Strait.

While the stripe of high pressure across the Pole does have its own circulation, it also represents blobs of heavy Siberian air pressing down as it moves from Siberia across to North America.  Europe and China can breath easier to see this air head away, and can sit back and snicker at Canada and the USA and even northern Mexico, as this year is their turn to shiver.

“BLACK HOLE” SWIFTLY SHRINKING

I checked out the True Color Arctic Satellite Image and was surprised to see how swiftly the circle of darkness is shrinking over the Pole. It makes sense, when you think that in only 26 days the sun will peek over the horizon at the Pole, and for six months there will be no circle of darkness at the Pole at all.

Despite the fact areas are often obscured by clouds, I highly recommend returning to look at the sea-ice from above on a regular basis. There is nothing like using your own eyes.

One thing I noticed right away was that the parts of the Beaufort Gyre now reappearing show signs they were stressed and did fracture, last winter. While it was not as dramatic as last year, you can see the signs. The old cracks have refrozen, and are various shades of milky white, while the fresh cracks are much darker, nearly black. Each crack represents a patch of sea water that was dramatically cooled for a while, until the ice reformed.

What you can’t see are the smaller features, such as whether the ice is smooth or jumbled slabs. I really wish I could fly around up there in an airplane, (preferably in a heated cabin.)

It remains cold for a while even as the sun peeks above the horizon. It takes a while for the real summer warming to set in.

LOCAL VIEW —Pressing cold—

A battle 126 satsfc (3)A battle 126 rad_nat_640x480

It sure was nice to open our Childcare this morning, and to look east, and see the sun above the horizon.  True, the sun did look like it was shivering in the blustering winds and single digit temperatures, but it wasn’t that long ago I was opening in the dark.

The map shows the first  “threat” is moving out to sea to our south. At worst we’ll get a few flurries, which is fine with me.  The next “threat” is that snow over Nebraska, and the moisture coming across Mexico into Texas from the Pacific. I don’t really see how that can come north, when I look towards the top of the map and see isobars showing north winds from Labrador to Montana. It looks like the entire North Pole is flooding down this way.

Oh well. Take it one day at a time, I suppose.  And today I see what I can do about my ridiculous junker of a truck. I hit a pothole and knocked the exhaust-pipe from the muffler. I wake half the town now, driving to work. Not that I mid that; I’m paying many back for times they hit potholes and suffered the same embarrassment.

What really gets to me is look of reproach I get from my dog, as it sits beside me in the cab. That dog has a most expressive face. Usually it likes the music on the radio, though classical violin music makes it look very sad. This new noise makes it wince, though it still wants to come along for the ride.

I could go on about my experiences with junkers, but I don’t want to be one of those old men who repeats himself. I wrote about hitting “One Pothole Two Many” nearly a year ago: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/one-pothole-too-many/

FEBRUARY 25 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Feb 25B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 25B temp_latest.big (1) (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The Icelandic Low seems to be separating from what we could call the Barents Sea Low, which could lead to an interesting shot of cold from Svalbard to Norway. Also it looks like the pool of cold over the Pole is heading towards Canada as one huge blob..

A RAPID APPRAISAL OF THE UK MET MAP

UK Met Feb 25B 12587197  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“”Thotson” has become ensconced in the position of the latest “Britannic Low.”  The high pressure bulging off Greenland to the north is deflecting cold air across the Atlantic towards Norway and the British Isles. Meanwhile cold air is trying to sneak west under the high in the upper right, over Siberia. However at this point it doesn’t look like these two cold thrusts will be able to penetrate the mild air between and link up.

“Thotertiary” to the lower left will stall and fall apart, and never make it across the Atlantic, but will kick its fronts east and they may stir up future storms which models show passing under England and crashing into France or even shooting tight into the Mediterranean.

LOCAL VIEW  —Second threat—

A battle 127 satsfc (3)A battle 127 rad_nat_640x480

The second “threat” is heading east. Though it is weak both in the northern and southern branch, it may “phase” as it moves off shore, and give us around an inch as it moves away. There could be a messy commute for people down in NYC tomorrow morning.

Bright sunshine with a few cumulus and stray snow flakes today. I beat down a path for the goats on Saturday, leading across the pasture to the edge of the woods, as the goats don’t like walking in deep snow. Today I led them up that path so I could chainsaw them down a birch tree, as they are sick of their diet of hay and grain, hay and grain. They crowded so close behind me I had to yell at them back off so I could start the chain saw. Then they panicked and started crowding back down the path, rudely pushing each other off the path. It was at this point they discovered the crust on the snow is so thick they can walk on top of it. They celebrated. I have seldom seen such prancing and cavorting, except when the grass is first green in the spring.  The deep snow has been cramping their style, and they apparently are euphoric about being able to do something besides trudge.  (They liked birch branches, as change in diet, as well.)

LOCAL VIEW  —Worry if you will—

A battle 128 satsfc (3)A battle 128 rad_nat_640x480

It makes me a bit nervous to see so much juice down on the coast of the Gulf of Mexico, with two innocent-looking lows approaching us, one in the northern branch north of Lake Ontario and one in the southern branch over Carolina. With the water so warm off the coast, it is as if a lid is taken off the convection as soon as the lows get off shore, and I’ve seen innocent-seeming lows get big very fast.

I peeked out at the pre-dawn darkness, not staying on the porch long as it was a frigid 2 degrees out, and was reassured to see the brilliant stars.  However when I poked my nose out later to see if I could see Mercury peeking over the horizon in the dusk, it has clouded over.

I like to stay down to earth, and note things such as smoke from chimneys, but it was fairly calm. Perhaps there is a slight drift from the southeast. However I decided to consult things that are above my head, and peeked at Dr Ryan Maue’s WeatherBELL map of the 500 mb level of the atmosphere:

A battle 128 gfs_z500_sig_noram_5  (Double click to fully enlarge.)

This is definitely above my head. At WeatherBELL Joe Bastardi states you should heed the “tilt” of the trough. If it leans to the northeast it is a “positive tilt”, and everything presses east out to sea, but if it leans back to the northwest it is a “negative tilt”, and storms can dig in and hug the coast and bomb out.  However my eyes can see both in these isobars. It depends which isobars you look at. The 940 mb is marked in red, and tends to be the focus of many, and to me that one looks indecisive. Like a politician it says, “Maybe positive; maybe negative; see me later.”

I don’t have time for that. I suppose I’ll just keep an eye to the sky and my ears to the forecast updates.

FEBRUARY 26  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

It is interesting how that Barents Sea low now has a life of its own.  Hope to find time to focus on what’s up with that, later today.

LOCAL VIEW  —A lunchtime look—

A battle 129 bsatsfc (3)A battle 129 rad_nat_640x480

Just a quick check to see if any “phasing is going on. It isn’t. The moisture is sliding out to sea well to the south, as a cold rain over the Carolina’s.  (Hmm. That might make a good title for a book: “A Cold Rain Over the Carolina’s.”  I’ll get right to work on it.) (As soon as I’m done my chores….which is basically never.)

It’s a cold and blustery day, with only a handful of snow thrown into the wind now and again like sparse confetti. It is keep-your-head-down weather, though there is something about the hint of brilliance in the March-like sunshine that gets you poking your head up just the slightest bit, like a turtle from its bomb shelter, before the all-clear.

FEBRUARY 26  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

The Barents Sea Low, which I suppose ought be dubbed “Kwik” as it seems to be the remains of that old storm, weakens but persists, it has built a weak ridge of high pressure between itself and the Labrador-Icelandic Low to the south. This creates a flow from Norway back towards Greenland, and through the Denmark Strait between Greenland and Iceland, to the south, while to the north there apparently is a reverse flow from Greenland east to Finland and western Siberia.  The ice in Fram Strait must be confused, and perhaps is moving east towards Svalbard rather than south.

It will be interesting to watch Kwik. It may be reinforsed by some pockets of mild moisture and become a low like “Polo” was, that wanders about the Pole and creates a sort of zonal flow, and allows temperatures to again drop up there.  This would give me a brief respite, down here in the northeast USA, from the amazing arctic flow we have witnessed, however if the pattern persists the next reservoir of cold air would again dump down over Canada and the USA.

Judging from this view the milder southerly flow over Europe diverges over northern Scandinavia, and doesn’t thrust towards the Pole with vigor. Rather half turns away east and then southeast, while the other swerves west and then southwest.

A RAPIDLY CROSS-EYED APPRAISAL OF THE UK MET MAP

UK Met Feb 26B 12614187  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

As Usual, the Icelandic Low refuses to establish itself in any sort of lasting manner. Thotson, which was in the best position to accept the crown, is weakening, and Thotertiary, which was in the best position to be a successor, is hanging back like a Labrador Low.  Thotertiary is kicking ahead its fronts to annoy the Irish and English, who have had what Anthony Holmes described as “six months of autumn.” (IE rain after rain, with very little snow.)

Below Thotertiary is a strong westerly flow, with a slight tilt to the south, which seems likely to sweep North American storms more towards France and Spain than towards Iceland. The little storm appearing in the lower left was Threat One in my “Local View,” so I’ll dub it “Thretwan.” It will be interesting to watch it, and see if it defies tradition and actually passes south of the British Isles.

The high to the upper right is not the “Snout of Igor” I expected, as it ingested and holds too much modifying air, and isn’t as cold as I thought it would be.

FEBRUARY 27 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

A QUICK LOOK AT THE UK MET

UK Met Feb 27 12626396

LOCAL VIEW  —Dry and cold—

A battle 130 satsfc (3)A battle 130 rad_nat_640x480

LOCAL VIEW  —snow squall line—

A battle 131 satsfc (3)A battle 131 rad_ec_640x480

LOCAL VIEW  — A brief whirl of white—

A battle 132 satsfc (3)A battle 132 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It was interesting how the arctic front faded after sunset, in some ways like a line of summer thunderstorms. It shows you that the sun is now high enough to stir up even an arctic air-mass.  We did get a brief squall as it came through, and a quarter of an inch dusting.

Built a fire for the children out by the skating pond. Lacing up skates in the cold wind does a number on my old hands.  Also I had to rush off to deal with a bank that does not seem to to care if it loses me as a customer. (They’ll be sorry when I’m rich.) However the day was redeemed by a country garage that fixed up my old truck’s starter and muffler for about a third of what a dealership would charge. I’ll take my small victories where I can find them.

The pines are roaring up on the hills tonight. There is a “wind chill warning” issued.

FEBRUARY 27 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

“Kwik” is weaker, northeast of Svalbard, but seems likely to be reinforsed by some mild air working up the west coast of Norway.  A Pacific Low I’ll call “Rongweh 7” is moving the wrong way along the Siberian coast. There is not the same joining of Pacific and Atlantic mildness across the Pole that there was 2 weeks ago,  though this does seem to be a meeker version of the same atmospheric stunt. The Pacific invading air is already chilled, even from what it was this morning, and a new wave of “Igor’s” cold seems to be moving off the coast of eastern Siberia.  My impression is that we might get a brief break from the arctic onslaught, here in North America, but then it will resume.

A SWIFT SCAN OF THE UK MET MAP

UK Met Feb 27B 12639897 (Click to enlarge)

“Thotertiary” continues to hang back like A Labrador Low, and now is weakening, as “Thotson” wobbles up towards Iceland, also weakening. In the westerly flow beneath the two occluded gales “Thretwan” is making a beeline towards the south coasts of Ireland and England. No surprise there, unless it is that the coast may just get clipped ratherbthan clobbered.  “Thretoo” is making an appearance at the lower left, and at this point looks like it will make a beeline in Thretwan’s wake. These storms are crossing far enough south to start pushing a storm tack into the Mediterranean.

Over Europe the winds continue from the south, but that stubborn high pressure east of Scandinavia is starting to push back, and introduce some east winds into the equation, especially in eastern Europe.

FEBRUARY 28  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Feb 28 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Feb 28 temp_latest.big (1) (click to enlarge)

LOCAL VIEW  —Zero at daybreak—

A battle 133 satsfc (3)A battle 133 rad_nat_640x480

The wind roared during the night, but is fading as the horizon brightens with orange. It is zero, (-17 Celsius,) and dry as a bone. Even when it “warms” to 20 this week the dew points are down near zero. However the real news is that the dust is finally getting dampened in Southern California.  That pulse of moisture will roll across the USA and may make headlines when it crashes into  the cold air.

LOCAL VIEW  —Snowman’s sunglasses—

A battle 134 satsfc (3)A battle 134 rad_nat_640x480

I tend to drive my wife crazy by living too close to the edge. She likes to arrive early, but to me that is wasted time.  I squeeze every last second from my dawdling, and then rocket out the door to do whatever it is I have to do. In terms of opening up the Childcare, I like to charge about and then pretend to be serene, as the first customer arrives and I unlock the front door.  Only occasionally does this efficient use of every available second come back to bite me, as it did last Monday when I arrived to find three feet of snow had slid off the roof and blocked the entry.  (Then I have to fall back on my charm.)

Lately I have become less efficient, as I keep arriving early. This inexplicably aberrant behavior is due to the dawn messing up my biorhythms. I tend to be checking out weather maps on my computer until a certain tint of the eastern sky rockets me out the door.  With the sun rising nearly two minutes earlier every day, in only five days I can go from being punctual to being ten minutes too early.

Twice a year daylight messes with your mind this way, and the confusion is heightened by the landscape being so utterly different.  Today the day is eleven hours and eleven minutes long here, the same as it is on October 13, but in October the trees are only starting to change, and the ponds are still unfrozen, and while frost may have killed the squash and tomatoes and corn and peppers, there are still beets and broccoli, kale and carrots and cabbages, parsnips and parsley and potatoes to pluck from the soil. Now the soil is rock hard beneath a sweeping stretch of white, and considering humans are creatures of habit, it is little wonder we feel perturbed, as if something isn’t quite right. Days don’t break the same.

Glittering stars, with bitter black breezes, are broken by a sudden streak of blue along the eastern rim, as Spring teases hope into hardened eyes, not because you feel any kindness in the stinging gale, but rather because morn taps your shoulder and you check your watch.

Deep darkness grows pale earlier each dawn: White page from dark folder, new day unwritten-upon arises earlier. Earlier ends dark brooding. The inevitable isn’t. Surprises shock the pessimist with hope’s mood-swing, and all of this unexpected delight smiles because more daylight’s in sight.

Even my cat gets crazy, as usually it winces and will not step out into sub-zero cold, but this morning it went out and just sat in the sun, despite the cold. It sensibly turned and came in after five minutes, but those five minutes hint at the start of March madness.

It is no coincidence that the two holidays we dedicate to pranks and tricks are situated when daylight is messing with our minds. The trick-or-treating of Halloween is a bookend to April fooling.

True, April first is still a long month away, but already I can see that the first sign of Spring is not a robin. Instead it is happy insanity.

FEBRUARY 28  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

“Kwik” has come back to life, after nearly fading away, and is rebuilding the weak ridge of high pressure between Norway and Greenland that to some degree walls the Atlantic influence away from the pole. The north winds between Kwik and Svalbard might even be cold enough to grow a swift skim of ice on the edges of Barents Sea, which doesn’t mean all that much as it will be melted away in days, or at most a few weeks, however in terms of the politics surrounding sea-ice it means a great deal and will cause all sorts of hoopla.

The past few years we have seen the ice keep expanding past the time when it usually hits its peak. This has been seen with great consternation by Alarmists, and as a reason to rejoice by Skeptics. Actually it is six inches of HTGT ice that matters little in terms of the big picture, and likely barely causes the slightest blip in terms of the stratification of seawater and its temperature. However it has happened, and it will be interesting to watch and see if it happens again.

Meanwhile I’ll be watching Kwik to see if it has the effect Polo had, and creates a semi-zonal flow around the Pole which causes temperatures to plummet at the very top of the globe, right when Siberia’s increased daylight is reducing its effectiveness as the Northern Hemisphere’s refrigerator.

A SPEEDY SQUINT AT TWO UK MET MAPS

UK Met Feb 28 FSXX00T_00UK Met Feb 28B 12667187 (CLICK THESE MAPS TO ENLARGE)

These maps show “Thotson” weakening while doing a poor impersonation of an Icelandic Low. Thretwan has scooted just south of England into France, somehow failing to bomb out and ruin the weekend for the British Isles with drenching rains and howling winds. :Thretoo and Thretree are weak in its wake, and are likely to pass too far south of the Isles to spoil the party.  Interestingly Thretfor, just appearing to the lower left, which was little more than a squall line when it passed my farm on this side of the Pond, may well be the next Britannic Low, but it won’t be able to spoil the weekend, as it likely won’t get across until Monday.

The high pressure to the upper right, east of Finland, is forecast to gradually shift the winds over Europe from south to southeast and finally east, as it just sits there for the next five days.  A hugely simplified schematic would show, by Tuesday, a northern flow from the Black Sea to the Baltic and on to Baffin Bay, and a southern flow from  Newfoundland Island to France to Turkey.  (We are unlikely to see anything so simple develop.)

LOCAL VIEW  —Dry cold to end?—

A battle 135 satsfc (3)A battle 135 rad_nat_640x480

If you include yesterday’s arctic front and squalls of snow, we have had four “threats” pass us by with little more than a dusting, or a handful of flakes on a brisk breeze. Today we didn’t even get that; it was the first day without a flake in days. It was cold and amazingly dry. When dry air comes in your house, and you heat it from zero to sixty-five, it is parched air, air that is drier than most deserts. We have a pot of water on our wood stove to keep the air from withering us, and on days like today it is amazing how swiftly that pot empties without boiling. Evaporation is extreme when the relative humidity is five percent.

The above map shows that the fifth “threat” will likely also pass us by, with the northern branch failing to “phase” with the southern branch, and the snow over the Great lakes being little more than another dry, arctic front when it gets here. However by then the sixth “threat” will be hard on its heels, full of California rain-clouds, and it may ram its moisture into that arctic front.

Moisture.  What a nice word.  It’s been a while since we last heard the trickling of rain off the roof. Not that we’ll get rain. That arctic front all but guarantees us snow.

MARCH 1  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 1 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 1 temp_latest.big (1) (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“Kwik” continues to whirl up near the Pole, over Franz Josef Land, drawing a tendril of milder, moister air up to its east, but sweeping cold air down to its west past Svalbard and over Barents Sea. The Atlantic is being cut off from the Arctic by a weak ridge of high Pressure south of Svalbard, turning the winds around the weak “Thotson,” (between Iceland and Norway,) around so they blow east from Norway to Greenland, rather than up into Barents Sea. However the Pacific is invading to a greater degree through Bering Strait and north of Alaska.  The cross-polar-flow has been interrupted, at the surface at least.

A BRIEF BLINK AT UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 1 12680295  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

“Thretwan” has occluded and stalled across the Channel in Belgium, kicking its energy southeast to the Mediterranean. “Thretoo” and “Thretree” are weak in its wake, and are likely to be little more than occlusions as they pass over Ireland, also kicking energy southeast. “Thretfor” is brewing up a Labrador Low southwest of Greenland, which is likely to cross the Atlantic, again farther south, and to try to become the next Britannic Low.

To the north “Thotson” and “Thotertiary” continue to swirl weakly, doing a poor job of being an Icelandic Low. It appears more Atlantic moisture is heading southwest between Iceland and Greenland than is getting up to the Arctic past Norway.

What is most intriguing to me is the gradual tilt of the flow over mainland Europe to the southeast, due to the high east of Scandinavia. This should eventually import very dry air from the Steppes. Though cold, it won’t be true Siberian air.

TRANSPOLAR DRIFT NORMAL FOR A CHANGE

Drift mar 1 arcticicespddrfnowcast (click to enlarge)

This map shows ice moving across the Pole and through Fram Strait in the textbook manner. What is interesting to me is how often the flow has refused to take this route and do things by the book, over the past year.  If you watch the animation of the past 30 days you can see the ice often moved against the flow: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticicespddrf_nowcast_anim30d.gif

The current flow may bring about a spike in the extent maps by closing the open water north of Svalbard and clogging Fram Strait and the coast of Greenland south to Denmark Strait. (Also cold air may create HTGT ice on the edges of Barents Sea.)

Also the current flow may create a channel of open water along the arctic coasts of Alaska and Canada, which may inflame the aspirations of mad sailors to attempt the Northwest Passage this summer. It doesn’t seem like a good idea this year, as that channel along the coast is like the jaws of a crocodile. If the wind shifts to the north the ice returns south, and the jaws close.  The ice is far thicker and denser to the north than it has recently been.

LOCAL VIEW  —ANOTHER SUBZERO MORNING

A battle 136 satsfc (3)A battle 136 rad_nat_640x480

Five below zero, even though it is March.  When I went for my morning coffee neither the hot nor cold kitchen faucet worked. Therefore I started my day under the sink with my wife’s hair drier.

One good thing about old copper pipes is that they conduct heat well, and I don’t have to squirm around in the crawl-space beneath that kitchen floor. After a couple minutes I had the water running.  Still, it was noteable that those pipes froze, not only because it is Match, but also because the snow is deep around the house, and usually that insulates the crawl space. However perhaps the snow shrank down enough, on the south-facing side.

This winter hasn’t been all that bad, in terms of the worst cold. I can recall a cold wave (1994?) when it got down to minus-27 (-33 Celsius) and, even with three wood stoves burning, I had the kids sleep in the living room rather than their icebox bedrooms. That was one time that a 250-year-old house’s charm was lost on me. This winter the coldest it has been is minus-9 (-23 Celsius,) but the cold has had a persistence that stands out.  Even our yo-yo mild spells, which we got because we are on the eastern edge of the national cold, only thawed the top of the snow, which then quickly refroze.

One odd thing I noticed yesterday was that the surface of the farm pond was actually higher than the edge, in places.  Over and over the warm-ups created layers of wet slush atop the ice, which refroze. Meanwhile the ice grew down at the bottom of the ice, until it is now nearly three feet thick. And because a tenth of an iceberg floats above water, the ice has lifted three inches at the outlet, and is three inches higher than the outlet without flowing out.

Hmm. If the ice all melts at once in a warm rain, we could get quite a spring freshet this year, especially because the ground was frozen deeply early in the winter when there was little snow, and the water can’t be absorbed by the ground until that semi-permafrost melts. However we won’t cross that washed-out bridge until we come to it.

The above map still looks quite dry to me, despite everyone talking about a storm on Monday.  Another amazing mass of cold air is pressing south, and it wouldn’t surprise me if this next threat was shunted south of us.  That is fine with me.  Let Washington DC do a bit of shoveling, for a change.

MARCH 1 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 1B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 1B temp_latest.big (1)

MARCH 2   —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Kwik” has joined with low pressure pushing through Bering Strait to create a sort of backwash to recent cross-polar-flow, with isobars suggesting winds coming back from Canada.  This doesn’t show very well on the isotherm map because as soon as air gets over the open water of Barents Sea it is warmed at the low level the isotherms describe.  Only two meters above the open water the air is swiftly warmed, though the water is  swiftly cooled.

This backwash looks to be a brief event, with the flow again reversed by tomorrow, as Kwik weakens and the lobe of low pressure between Svalbard and Greenland strengthening into a new low, again separate from the Atlantic, which I guess I’ll call “Sval,” as it is developing right next to Svalbard. This will create isobars which suggest a flow again from Siberia to Canada. (Currently that flow is from far east Siberia across the Bering Strait to far west Alaska, but will rapidly expand as Kwik weakens and the flow on the Atlantic side of Kwik  vanishes, and reappears south of Sval.

Sval  looks to be the last of  these small polar lows that are independent of the Atlantic. Models now suggest a major flow will surge north up the coast of Norway from the Atlantic, as a storm comes up the coast of Greenland, to the west of Iceland. This is very different storm-track from the current pattern’s, which has storms heading east well south of Iceland. It will be interesting to watch.

LOCAL VIEW  —snow staying south?—

A battle 137 satsfc (3)A battle 137 rad_nat_640x480

Milder, with a dust of snow this morning. A very cold arctic front is approaching, likely with another dusting, however at this point it looks like the bulk of the following snow will be pushed south of us by the arctic front.

LOCAL VIEW  —Finding sweetness in bitter blasts—Scripture and squirrels

A battle 138 satsfc (3)A battle 138 rad_nat_640x480

A southern band of snow does seem to be increasing as the northern band decreases, which does suggest the storm will slide south of us.  Fine with me. If I don’t have to spend time cleaning up heaps of snow I have more time to entertain the kids at my Childcare, (and hopefully a few observers of this blog, as well.)

I checked out the WeatherBELL site to see what Joe Bastardi and Joseph D’Aleo had to say about the coming cold, and they didn’t hold out much hope for warming. In fact some models suggest the core of the cold will shift east, and rather than Minneapolis and Chicago getting the core of the cold, it will be the northeast. In fact, as I squint at the maps, the exact center of the cold looks like it is located in my back pasture.

Oh well, I suppose things have to balance out. A couple of years ago the soil thawed early and  I actually got my peas planted around the first day of spring.  This year it looks like it is likely to be the more traditional time, which is “Patriots Day,” on April 19. (And I can remember planting peas midst whirling snowflakes, even on April 19.)

In any case, it will be a wait. Sometimes the waiting and waiting and waiting for spring gets people down, especially when the frozen ground gives way to “mud season,” where the top four inches thaws above frozen earth, and water cannot drain away, and life gets downright sloppy.  Even indoors-people get discouraged, because the mess sticks to feet and mud tracks indoors, despite the best efforts of housewives to battle it back at the front entry.

I try to be sensitive to my wife, and to remove my boots a tenth of an inch inside the front door, but so invasive is the mud that it uses that slender foothold to spread like butter over toast throughout the entire house.  I spread my palms in incredulous disbelief when my wife points to evidence in far corners of our abode that I was careless. I have no idea how mud got onto the ceiling of the bathroom. It is just one of those things that happens, during mud season.

And, as if a husband isn’t bad enough, my wife must also deal with a hoard of small children at our Childcare.  Seventeen small children translates to  thirty-four feet, all spreading mud like butter-knives over toast. This is not merely discouraging. It is tantamount to a spiritual crisis.

I should be able to handle a spiritual crisis, as I am a deacon at my church. True, I only became a deacon because, as Christianity has become politically incorrect in New England, membership declined to a degree where they had to employ me, even though I confess to being more focused on being a good cantankerous anachronism than on being a good Christian.

The way a cantankerous anachronism handles a spiritual crisis is through a wry sense of humor. While the Bible never actually comes out and states a wry sense of humor  is a spiritual gift, I see it in the scriptures. For example, in Galatians 5, verse 12, Paul is basically stating that if people think circumcision of the foreskin is so spiritual,  he wishes they would be even more spiritual and cut their entire penis off. If that isn’t a wry sense of humor, I don’t know what is.

Around these parts, when people are suffering from a long, long winter, one thing we have done in the past, to fight off the spiritual depression of a long, long winter giving way to a long, long mud-season, is to hold a “talent show”, where people can express a wry sense of humor. I think the last time we did this was in the last century, around 1996,  when we suffered a winter which simply refused to quit. That doesn’t seem so long ago to me, but time has flown, and, somewhat to my amazement, there are now very young mothers who were not even born, the last time we had a mud-season talent show.

The idea popped into my head that this winter was so hard and so prolonged that now was high time for another mud-season talent show.  My pragmatic side was screaming, “No, no, no!  That would be extra work!” However, in a most careless manner I “floated” the idea, as a deacon of a very small church. I didn’t think the idea would catch on.  It was just an old-fashioned idea of an old-fashioned, anachronistic geezer. However the idea did catch on, and now I’m stuck with it.

I was sort of hoping everyone would forget I ever mentioned the idea, but this morning, as I came dashing into the church at the last possible moment, despite the fact I am “deacon on duty” and obliged to stand at the pulpit and begin the service with the “announcements,” I glanced up towards a big screen I don’t much like, which my church has plastered up on the wall above the pulpit in an attempt to be “modern.”  (The most recent invention I, as an anachronism, approve of is the invention of stained glass.) On that screen was the blaring announcement: “Talent Show!”  Then, in the small print, it stated, “See Caleb Shaw for details.”

As I sauntered up to the pulpit to begin the service I was attempting to think fast. My brain did not comply. As I announced the other church activities I was troubled by a troublesome detail. That detail was that people could not “see me for details” about the Talent Show, for I hadn’t worked out any of the details. I had merely floated an idea. Now I suddenly found myself in charge of an event, and in some ways Master of Ceremonies of an event, which only moments before I had been hoping everyone would forget I ever mentioned.

In the end I was honest, and simply stated there were still “a few details to work out.” However, on the way to that honest confession, I babbled a bit. In fact I reminded myself of Calvin, in the old “Calvin and Hobbs” cartoons, when he was asked for homework, or an answer, by his battle-ax teacher, and was “buying time,” for if he procrastinated long enough the bell would ring and he could escape the classroom without answering or producing homework. Unfortunately no such escape was available to me, for, in a very small church, I, as the deacon who announces the announcements, am also the deacon who, just after that, rushes to the bell rope and rings the bell.

During the time I babbled a bit, my mouth produced some wonderful sidetracks, including the weather report.  I discussed the reasons for a talent show, avoiding the subject of the talent show itself. I discussed how cold and dreary and, in the end, muddy, the month of March could be. I found myself discussing ways the monotony and dreary boredom of waiting for April could be relieved, besides holding a talent show. Among other things, I babbled about snapping the twig of a maple tree to grow an icicle of maple sap.

I cannot say where that idea came from. Blame it on the Holy Spirit, if you will. In any case, as I looked out over the mostly empty pews, I could see the scattered congregation was looking at me with obvious interest, as I babbled. Apparently they had never heard of growing your own maple syrup Popsicle.

What happens is that, when you snap a maple’s twig in subfreezing temperatures, perhaps due to the power of the sun on the south-facing side of the maple’s bark, the sap flows even though it is below freezing. When you interrupt this flow on its way to a bud, by snapping a twig, the tree bleeds just as we bleed from a small cut, but as soon as the sap hits the air it freezes, forming an icicle. Then, because the air is so extremely dry, a process called “sublimation” occurs, where ice becomes water vapor without the bother of melting. (A bit like “dry ice”, which is CO2 and cannot exist as liquid at ordinary sea-level barometric pressures.) What this does is shrink the icicle, and reduce the amount of water in it, which increases the amount of maple sugar.  On occasion the icicles from a maple tree’s broken twig can be surprisingly sweet.

I’m not sure if this has anything to do with Christianity. Perhaps, in a symbolic sense, it may explain how an anachronistic old icicle like me wound up a deacon. Sweetness is found in unexpected places.

In any case, no one got mad at me for the fact I haven’t worked out the details of the talent show. But I’ll have to get busy.

After church I got curious about who first discovered the sweetness of maple icicles, and decided to research the subject.  Apparently the credit goes to a red squirrel:

Red-Squirrel-1

(credit also goes to the photographer Allan Oman, whose site is at:  http://allanoman.photoshelter.com/image/I0000yMZQ8Rsmf2w )

In conclusion, if you want to find sweetness in a World man has made more bitter and cold than it needs to be, there are two places to find sweetness: Scripture, and squirrels.

MARCH 2 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 2B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 2B temp_latest.big (1)  (click to enlarge)

“Sval” failed to develop, but right where models thought he would move, a weak low has swung around along the Canadian coast from the Bering Strait. I guess I’ll call it “Rietway,” because it came the right way rather than the wrong way. It may well be a fleeting feature, but it has allowed the cross-polar-flow to resume in its wake.

The wall of high pressure continues to segregate the Arctic from the Atlantic, and for the time being ice sxtent should be growing in Barents Sea. Models suggest the Atlantic will mount an invasion by midweek.

A GALLOPING GLIMPSE AT TWO UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mar 2 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 2B 12720117  (CLICK THESE MAPS TO ENLARGE)

“Thretfor” has become a powerful storm, and is not heading up to Iceland like a good Icelandic Low, but is following the pattern and is heading straight towards the British IsleS to give those poor, drenched people a blue Monday.  However at least they got a shred of a decent weekend, between showers.

Models are flip-flopping all over the place, concerning a coming change.  The most extreme “solutions” have the next trans-Atlantic storm completely breaking the pattern, and heading straight north rather than straight east, and rather than passing well south of Iceland passing well west, up the coast of Greenland. However that is only one of a number of different “solutions.”

Things have got to change, because the seasons are changing, however I have a “rule,” (though at times it seems more like a “superstition,”) that you can sometimes learn how the next winter will begin by how the last winter ended.  I am watching the current maps keenly, for clues.

Those who have visited this site during the duration of this winter know I have been on guard for the east winds from Siberia, and for situations to become like the map below.

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

In fact, if you look at the above UK Met maps you can see elements of the above “AO and NOA negative” map, with a storm track into the Mediterranean and the winds over Europe shifting to the east, however time and time again we would approach this “solution,” only to swing the other way. In fact the true pattern this winter has been to be between two patterns, neither here nor there, which is why I think we may have discovered a third pattern.  It is a sort of illegitimate bastard pattern, as it does not have an authorized and official name, but it sure does plunk a gale over the British Isles with annoying (to those people) regularity, which is why I decided to give the bastard legitimacy, and called it “The Britannic Low.”

My curiosity now wonders, “Will we begin next winter in this pattern, or will a new pattern evolve?” My hunch is: A new pattern. Therefore I am watching the end of this winter for hints.

LOCAL VIEW —The seventh threat—

A battle 139 satsfc (3)A battle 139 rad_nat_640x480

Last Friday some of the older kids at our Daycare confided to me that they expected their vacation would be extended a day by a snowstorm tomorrow, but it looks like they will be disappointed.  The amazing (for March) press of arctic air seems to be pushing everything south. Threat-number-six basically evaporated, the air was so cold and dry, (though a remnant storm “Thretix” may ripple onto my UK Met discussion tomorrow.)  The seventh threat may well also be squeezed south of tomorrow.  In fact I am planning on it.

However,until the storm moves out to sea, I’ll reserve judgement, and retain my option for worry.  (I learned how to worry from my mother, who had an amazing capacity for fretting about things happening to me that never happened.) (Also the American Prophet Yogi Berra is said to have once pronounced, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over,” which is especially applicable to the above maps.)

The worrisome aspect of the above maps is the warmth coming north in the east as the cold swivels south in the west.  This suggests the seventh storm could tilt the table, becoming bigger than expected.  The forecasts are based on things staying “flat,” but the radar shows the warmth has come north far enough for rain in the south of New Jersey, even as plunging cold amazes the northern panhandle of Texas. (In one north Texan town, where the average high temperature for this date in March is 67, the actual high was 7; a mere sixty degrees below normal!!!) (Meanwhile, on the southern coast of Texas, it was 87 degrees.  That is an eighty degree contrast, and able to dumbfound computer models built upon “averages.”)

In a worst-case-scenario this seventh threat, (which I dub “Threteven”), would become bigger, dig deeper, and move slower. This would then cause it to dig even more, deepen even more, and slow even more.  Rather than being a big but “flat” system, moving to our south and giving Washington DC snow, it would give them more rain, as it tilted the tables and rode a retreating arctic front north. I would wake tomorrow to winter weather advisories, which would become winter storm warnings around noon, resulting in local schools closing early, and our Childcare experiencing total chaos and confusion, and, all things considered, a typical Monday.

I prefer to imagine it will be an atypical Monday.  Nothing unexpected will happen. The day will break steely grey, with the storm passing south of us, and the winds will stay from the cold and dry northwest.  Temperatures will refuse to rise, even when the sun pokes through in the afternoon, and the high temperature will be seventeen.  In that cold I will thank the skies for dryness, and the fact I don’t need to remove snow. Instead I’ll focus on tapping maple trees, even though it will be so cold no sap will flow.

MARCH 3  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

LOCAL VIEW  —Storm slipping south— 

A battle 140 satsfc (3)A battle 140 rad_ec_640x480

MARCH 3  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

“Sval” has formed over Svalbard, and is drifting up towards the Pole, likely to absorb “Kwik” and “Riteway” and to create a very brief period of semi-zonal flow. It will be interesting to watch how much mild Atlantic air Sval brings north, and how quickly that air cools.

Some models are showing a huge area of low pressure completely surrounding Greenland by Thursday.  There can’t truly be a low center over the icecap, but the 996mb isobar will surround Greenland and also much of the north Atlantic.

UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 3B 12746096

“Thretfor” has parked over the British Isles and become the Britannic Low, as expected, while kicking low pressure down into the Mediterranean storm track.  “Thretix” is crossing and will likely take a southerly route, but is leaving energy behind as a Labrador Low which will be interesting to watch, as it is expected to grow and engulf Greenland. Talk about morphistication! In some ways, with shreds of the typical icecap high pressure at the center, it will be like the low is a whole bunch of lows around Greenland, like the petals of a daisy.  The lows moving up Greenland’s east coast could get pretty big and bring a surge of south winds up towards the Pole, with the southerly flow stretching clear across to Norway.

LOCAL VIEW  —grey day—

A battle 141 satsfc (3)A battle 141 rad_nat_640x480

The seventh threat was the biggest, and held the most potential and power, but it too slipped off the coast to our south, and all we got of it was a grey day.  Temperatures had dropped to twelve by dawn, and barely rose all day. The kids didn’t want to play outside much. The snow has all turned to a gritty crust, and I can walk atop a foot of snow as if I am as light as a squirrel.  I’m not.

It was a tedious sort of day, and I’m in the mood to turn in early.  I’ll let the maps speak for themselves.  (Get talking, maps.)

MARCH 4  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Sval” swirls up by the Pole, creating a bent flow from Finland east along the Siberian coast to the laptev Sea, where it takes a left turn and is a cross-polar-flow to Canada. This creates a flow with a split personality, as it has two source regions. Milder air comes from north of Europe, while Siberian air is pulled up from central Asia. I wonder if the clash between these two stripes of air will make Sval stronger, or influence his track.

No sign of the flood of air up from the Atlantic yet.

LOCAL VIEW  —SKIES GONE MILKY—(The Medusa Effect)

A battle 142 satsfc (3)A battle 142 rad_nat_640x480

It was another bitterly cold morning. As I opened the door at the Childcare for a parent loaded down with her child’s supplies, I saw her glace at the thermometer,  which read three degrees.  (-15 Celsius.)  Brightly and cheerfully I stated, “Well, at least it is above zero. That’s a sign of spring for sure!”  She managed a chuckle, just barely.

However as soon as the March sun got up in the spotlessly blue sky, you could feel the warmth in the rays.  Temperatures fought up towards twenty, however if you got on the south side of a building out of the wind you could bask, and even see the snow soften and slump a little.  But then the slightest overcast came over, and immediately the world turned back to stone.

This is an amazing start to March. In March hot and humid air usually comes north from the Gulf of Mexico, and we get our first tornadoes in the Midwest as it clashes with polar cold. The above radar map shows snow down on the Gulf Coast. Unbelievable!

That southern snow is a southern-branch feature hardly getting notice on the map, and the snow over the Great lakes is a northern-branch feature equally undignified with attention. Together they represent “threat eight,” which is not much of a threat, though it does turn our blue skies milky, and our landscape back to stone, like a wink from Medusa.

MARCH 4  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

This is a very interesting couple of maps. (To me, at least.)

For one thing, as “Sval” has gobbled up “Rietway” and “Kwik” he has become a decently strong low on the Pole.  Imagine that!  With all the talk of Polar Vortexes, in an attempt to explain every arctic outbreak, we now have a vortex on the Pole, which likely will get no press whatsoever. True, compared to what is brewing down around Cape Farewell at the southern tip of Greenland, it is a small low, but the isobars are tightly packed on the Suberian side of the Pole, and you can bet winds are strong and the sea-ice is getting crammed into the Beaufort Gyre, rather than down towards Fram Strait.

Second, look back at the maps for the past few days, and contemplate what has become of the mild Pacific air associated with “Rietway.”  Unless a little got sucked into the top of Baffin Bay, it has all been ingested by the development of “Sval.”  Just compare the isotherms from the morning map of two days ago with today’s afternoon map:

DMI Mar 2 temp_latest.big (1)DMI Mar 4B temp_latest.big (1)

That entire pool of mild air has been transformed into cold air.  Magic?  We are talking the green hues turning to deep blue, or -8 degree air changing to -25 degree and even -30 degree air.  Not magic, but fact. (Likely the warm air rose, lost heat to outer space, and showered down snow.)

Third, notice the tongue of “warm” air “Sval” is now sucking up into its core from Barents Sea. (This contains a lot of air from the Steppes, and isn’t true Atlantic juice.) Will the same “magic” aflict this mild air, dropping its temperature 20 degrees in sixty hours? STAY TUNED!!!

Lastly, watch that low south of Greenland. It may engulf all of Greenland, and then even grow bigger.  Indeed it may become this thing called “A Grand Planetary Wave,” wherein the polar, sub-polar and sub-tropical waves all match up, and you can get a gigantic plunge in the isobars forming a trough from west of Greenland to the Gulf of Mexico. Such events are rare, and likely won’t happen, but tend to happen this time of year when they do happen. If it happened people in Europe could sit back and munch popcorn, watching the USA cuss and tantrum and shovel feet of snow.

Even if that doesn’t happen, you can see a decent cross-polar-flow is redeveloping, which makes warm spells highly unlikely on this side of the Pond.

LIGHTNING-LIKE PEERINGS AT UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mar 4 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 4B 12773405  (Click these maps to enlarge them.)

These maps show the mixed muddle of switching patterns. “Thretix” is taking the old patterns southerly route towards the Mediterranean track, as “Threteven” appears and seems hesitant, and even divided, with part following along behind on Thretix’s cold front, as a northern part has independent fronts and is getting sucked into a deepening of isobars at the southern tip of Greenland.

This sort of confused map messes with the virtual mind of models, (and the very real minds of true meteorologists as well.)  Until a new pattern becomes clear you are likely to get a wide variety of “solutions” from the models, (and a variety of forecasts from true meteorologists as well.)

One very interesting solution has the deepening south of Greenland becoming a major feature, even to the degree where it may suck some warm air way down at the bottom right of the map from the Azores right up towards England. (Such a visit of balmy temperatures would likely be part of a showery pattern, if not yet another gale, but balmy is still nice, even if it is brief.)

However until such a Greenland-engulfing feature actually manifests, other solutions are still on the table. In any case, I wish I had the time to really study these maps, rather than watching from afar. Some intriguing stuff is going on.

AN UNEXPECTED THANK-YOU

This is pretty neat, for me at least.

I likely sound like an advertisement for WeatherBELL, but I do get all sorts of wonderful information for the price of a cup of coffee each day from their “Premium Site.”  So I headed over there this evening to see what was new, and got my socks knocked off by this headline on Joe Bastardi’s blog: THANKS CALEB, FOR AT LEAST LISTENING

So of course I wondered, “What the heck?”  Then I read on. (I would link you to his site, but you may not have the price of a cup of coffee.) Joe wrote:

“March 4 04:06 PM

I was glancing through WUWT at an article about Dr Jeff Masters and his comments on how this winter is a sign of global warming. I came upon this letter and I want to say thank you to Caleb for remembering the theory behind all this. Essentially if the oceans caused warming and they started turning colder, there would be some climatic hardship, nothing too terrible in relation to what has happened before, but something that was at least there to consider.

“Caleb says:March 4, 2014 at 7:44 am 

Back when I first started paying attention to Joe Bastardi, nearly a decade ago, he was warning we should expect to face what he called “a time of climatic hardship.” His warning was based upon prior weather, and what occurred the last time the “warm” PDOand AMO flipped over to the “cold” phases. His warning didn’t involve Global Warming one bit. It only needed history to repeat itself.

I imagine he got laughed at a bit, as back then the talk was all warming followed by more warming, and how our children weren’t going to know what snow looked like.

Now the PDO has flipped to the “cold” phase, and we are waiting for the AMO to also flip in the next few years. So far Mr. Bastardi looks wise and the Alarmists look like….well, unwise.

At this point the Alarmists are flip-flopping like a trout on hot tar. They need to be reminded, over and over and over, of what they said in the past. Not that they will ever say the three very difficult words, “I was wrong.” Being able to say those three words is the sign of a true adult. Flip-flopping, on the other hand, means you’re up to something fishy.”

I took alot of heat over this, alot of ridicule. And by the way there is no way to say if its truly right or wrong as far as a provable point. The main message is that as long as there were clashes , the weather was likely to produce extreme events. It seemed to me that with the PDO flipping and the amo warm, and then flipping later, we should look to what happened before.

If there was no clash, if one side overran the other, there would be LESS extreme weather. That is a fact of nature.. When one side overwhelms the other, be it the weather or a wrestling match, the weather goes from chaos to lack of chaos.. in the case of wrestling, the match ends.

I realize such things are a threat to people who want others to believe that this is so complex, you have no chance to understand it. But I have found, through watching all of you, whether you like me or not, its the opposite. I have found there alot of very talented people out there that if their path was different, their love of the weather and the talent they have would have them on the same path I am on. This does not threaten me, it makes me grateful that I had the chance. A letter like this makes me understand what a blessed man I am .

So Caleb and all of you, thanks.

Now, is that not a fairly nice thing to blunder across? (I should note that when I wrote that comment on WUWT I had no inkling Mr. Bastardi would ever see it.)

What was even better was to look through his next post, and to see he had examples of “Grand Planetary Waves.”  The first is from March 13, 1993, and is from a situation I fondly remember, because I was younger and stronger, and the resultant storm created so much shoveling I made a quick hundred dollars at a time I sorely needed it.

Grand Planetary Wave compday_J5CFf_N3Nq (click to enlarge)

The second map is from a computer model, for the exact same day, 21 years later:

Grand Planetary Wave gefs_z500a_noram_37(1)  (Click map to enlarge.)

Considering I am 21 years older, I doubt I would be as fond of the same situation, if it reoccurred.  (By the way, which map is superior? The old one, or the Dr. Ryan Maue WeatherBELL map?)

As a final example of sounding like a WeatherBELL commercial, I’ll steal something from Joseph D’Aleo’s blog at WeatherBELL, however this one deserves its own headline:

GREAT LAKES ICE SETS MODERN (SINCE 1980) RECORD

I could hunt down this map and the pictures of Niagara Falls for myself, but why do that work when Joseph D’Aleo works so hard to make it available to me?

Great Lakes March 4 lice_00  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Great Lakes March 4 1960830_10201192157760688_23307115_o  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

‘UNPRECEDENTED?’ NOT SO FAST.  NIAGARA IN 1911

Great Lakes March 4 1911  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

I am sorry if this post seems like some sort of mushy mutual-admiration-society. However the reason is that I admired both Joseph D’Aleo and Joe Bastardi even before “WeatherBELL” existed, back when I made Bastardi my professor at “Accuweather” and heeded D’Aleo through his site at “Icecap.”  I’ve been thanking them for a decade, and even if I didn’t get tonight’s return thank-you, I’d go right on telling everyone I know that their site, and Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps, are worthy, because the simple fact of the matter is: That’s the truth.

Now let me toot my own horn. If you look way back in these posts you will see I had what I called a “hunch” this winter would be a bad one, and backed up my statement by buying several truckloads of firewood. Now it seems, with propane prices above $4.00 a gallon at times, I was not as dumb as I look (and often behave.)

The Great Lakes are not a small body of water, yet are not included in the “Sea-Ice extent graphs,” for the obvious reason they are not salt water.  However, if you include them in the surface area of the planet, they make a blip in the data as big as the Baltic Sea. The Baltic Sea is below average this winter, but if you included the Great Lakes in the sea-ice data, it might more than make up for that deficiency.

In other words, even if it is mild in Europe, this is no slouch, as winters go. And it isn’t over.

LOCAL VIEW  —We duck another bullet?—

A battle 143 satsfc (3)A battle 143 rad_nat_640x480

As an old geezer, this map makes me nervous, however when I check my weather-radio I learn we have a 40% chance of snow-showers tomorrow.  No prediction for snow amounts is made, which suggests a dusting at best.

Why am I nervous? Because the ingredients for worse are there. You have a northern-branch low with a big arctic high sitting over it, and a low in the Gulf of Mexico with plenty of juice.

Even if threat-eight slips harmlessly out to sea, I can’t help but wonder, “How many times can we duck the bullet?”

My hunch is that we will get at least one, big, storm-to-remember, before this winter quits.

MARCH 5  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Sval” is becoming the northern appendage of low pressure engulfing the entire island of Greenland.

LOCAL VIEW  —Another gray day—

A battlke 144 satsfc (3)A battle 144 rad_nat_640x480

We were at seventeen (-8 Celsius) this morning, which felt surprisingly warm.  Gray overcast sliding over from the west, as low gray scud came in from the east, with light snow falling. Even the snow looked a bit gray to me.

Temperatures are suppose to get down to five below (-20 Celsius) tonight, which doesn’t have my mood very spring-like.  We might make it up to freezing by Friday.

MARCH 5  —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

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

“Sval” has weakened while drifting towards Canada from the Pole, pulling a tendril of mildness with him, as a part of a cross-polar-flow which continues strong even as Sval weakens, due to the powerful low developing at the southern tip of Greenland.  I cam going to dub this low “Morphy” because it involves so much of what I call “morphistication.” (Basically morphistication is what occurs to low pressure areas as they transit high ranges of mountains.)

There tends to be a semi-permanent high pressure parked over the cold ice-cap of Greenland, but Morphy is erasing it. Atlantic air is slamming into Greenland, being hoisted over 10,000 feet as it crosses the icecap, having lots of moisture condense and crystallize and produce available heat from latent heat as the snow snows out, and then a sort of Greenland Chinook occurs as this air sinks more than 10,000 feet from the icecap to sea level on the Baffin Bay side.  Although the Chinook has “warmed” air, a lot of heat is lost to outer space as well, and my guess would be the process represents a loss of heat, even though the Baffin Bay coast may experience a short term warming of sorts. (This would be a neat thing to study more deeply. When I’m filthy rich I’ll hire some brilliant young student to study what happens to winds transiting Greenland.)

For the time being the milder Atlantic air is hitting Greenland rather than invading the Arctic, but it does look like an invasion is immanent.  It will be interesting to watch this invasion, and see how it mixes with the cross polar flow.  It looks like Morphy will dominate the Atlantic side, and high pressure dominate the Pacific side.

A RAPID SCAN OF THE UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mar 5 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 5B 12798082

I’m tired, and am mostly popping these maps in here hoping I have the time to study them later. You can see the old storm track continuing to feed weak trans-Atlantic lows into the Mediterranean, even as Morphy grows and takes over the show. O guess I’ll call that appendage of Morphy getting wheeled past Iceland “Morpheven”, as it took over the cold front belonging to “Threteven.”

Watch the Azores High at the bottom center to see if some really balmy air can make it north, and watch the lobe of Siberian high pressure over Finland to see if it can bring cool and dry air from the Steppes west on its south side. Some sort of conflict between the two high pressure areas seems likely.

LOCAL VIEW  —2 inches of fluff—

A battle 145 satsfc (3)A battle 145 rad_nat_640x480

Even as the cold, dry air moved in all day, just enough of a easterly drift continued at the surface to give us light snow all day, with the flakes getting large and thick just before it ended at dark. I wasn’t feeling very inspired, but did manage to get the kids at the Childcare involved with catching snowflakes on there tongues.  As I showed them how the thought occurred to me, “Dang. It’s been years since I’ve done this.”

I’d also forgotten how white flakes look like black ashes, when you look up into a grey sky, and how the flakes expand towards you as they fall, and how the farthest flakes look like a thick swarm of the smallest black gnats.

That low lurking in the Western Gulf of Mexico is Threat Nine.

MARCH 6 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Morphy” is impressive as it engulfs Greenland, with “Morpheven” being swung past Iceland. Strong southerly flow developing over Norway. The Scandinavia-to-Canada cross-polar flow should create a milder stripe than the Siberia-to-Alaska flow.

A HASTY HEEDING OF THE UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 6 12811230 (Click to enlarge)

The Azores High has actually linked with the Siberian High, forming a weak wall of high pressure between the old pattern, with lows in the Mediterranean, and the new pattern, with “Morphy” creating a Icelandic High that is displaced northwest rather than southeast over England. In fact it looks like southeast England might even be close enough the high pressure over France to see a thing called sunshine.

The front touching northeast Ireland and Scotland will not move east greatly, becoming a feature on the maps that undulates back and forth over the British Isles and the coast of Norway over the next few days, separating a milder southwesterly flow from a colder southwesterly flow.

LOCAL VIEW —The last sub-zero daybreak of the winter?—

A battle 146 satsfc (3)A battle 146 rad_nat_640x480

Fresh snow-cover bred a pocket of nasty cold in our area, especially down in valleys.It was seven below (-22 Celsius) at the foot of our hill, as I stumbled about in the dark getting going. When I went out to start my wife’s truck for her the east was just starting to get light, but even that was annoying because, just when we are starting to have a glimmer of daylight to work with, the dolts in Washington DC decree that the clocks should spring forward to Daylight Savings Time, an hour earlier than they used to, which means we’ll be working in the dark again next Monday.

I didn’t think I needed gloves just to walk to the truck and back, but the cold stung the back of my hands immediately. It wouldn’t do to start the day crabbing about everything, so I stuck my hands deep into my pockets and looked around for something inspiring.

The east blushes blue. A cardinal tweets, insanely loud in the subzero hush.  Jaunty red plumage black against dawn, he greets winter’s conquest with counter-claims, a rush of twitters, and then, “Tweet! Tweet! Tweet!” he yells: A winced headache to all with hangovers and a plague to sleep. “Tweet! Tweet!” It compels curses from virgin lips; even pushovers push back against the madness of claiming a white waste of tundra for a dull spouse who likely thinks he’s mad, and is shaming him by basking in Florida.  What house can he claim for her when the odds are so low?  “Tweet! Tweet!” screams the cardinal at seven below.

I decided I likely needed a second cup of coffee.

Cardinal images

***********

The sun has risen in a cloudless sky, and by 9:00 AM its beaming face is as high as it is at noon in December. Temperatures have risen 30 degrees, which is still ten below freezing, but feels kindly in the calm. Despite some murmuring about a big storm next week, last night felt like the peak of ice in the depth of winter, and so this seems like a good place to end this post.  However I should add an ice-extent graph, to show its peak as well.

DMI Mar 6 icecover_current_new (Click graph to enlarge.)

I imagine this is the peak of the ice extent because late season increases are largely HTGT ice along the edges, especially in the Barents Sea, and that sea is likely to see a decrease in strong southerly winds, the next week.

Barents Sea is the main reason the extent looks low this year.  It has less ice this winter than any time in recent history:

DMI Mar 6 region.all.anom.region.6 (click graph to enlarge)

My assumption is that this is typical of the situations that develop when the AMO is about to switch.  It may even be a cause of the AMO switching.  It will be interesting to see if having this water unprotected by ice all winter speeds the ice-melt or retards it. (It will make no difference to the minimum, because Barents Sea nearly always melts completely.)  I wrote more about this wondering in an essay called, “Author Of Its Own Demise.”  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/01/07/author-of-its-own-demise/

This series of posts will continue at:

https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/03/06/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-march-madness/

6 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE MAXIMUM —THE PEAK AT THE DEPTH—

  1. We in the UK are still enduring a six month Autumn , if our winter starts in the Spring there will be hell to pay , if i want snow i have to come and read your wonderful discriptions , all the plastic snow shovels in our supermarket are just gathering dust – because our highly paid met office experts said we were to have a colder and snowy winter , their multi million pound new supercomputer told them that , tens of trillions of calculations a second – all wrong it seems !! Please please let them tell us this coming summer is going to be wet and cool – warm and dry is going to be just perfect for us and will dry out the soggy fields nicely !!

    • You might try sending those snow shovels over here, but what we are really running short of are those plastic sleds children use these days. The plastic doesn’t handle extreme cold very well, and the children tend to keep sledding interesting by doing more and more dramatic stunts, until the sleds shatter. It is getting hard to find any at stores.

      I’ve been watching in amazement as gale after gale has headed across the Atlantic to park over you, rather than heading up to Iceland. You must be utterly sick of it.

      Keep the faith. The one thing I recall about the winter and spring I spent in England and Scotland was how the gloom and short,dark days gave way so swiftly to longer and longer days. It was like I was bipolar, and moving from deep, dark depression to a giddy euphoria. For me the summer days were a wonder, they were so long.

      Winter wont last forever.

  2. Thank you so much for your blog. I have learned a considerable amount in the past two weeks.I’m following your posts from Brampton,Ontario.. Keep up the good work.

    • I am very pleased you found pleasure in my rambling. My blog has become a sort of notebook I doodle and scrawl into, more like a garrulous old man than a dignified teacher. The fact you learn from my scribbling is a bonus, as mostly I’m trying to get people to chuckle.

      When I was a boy (1950’s and 1960’s) I used to vacation with family friends on a chicken farm in Castleton, Ontario, and sometimes was driven northwest to fish on Rice Lake. So I have some pleasant memories of your Province. However that was during the summer. I was told winters were a whole different story.

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