ARCTIC SEA ICE MAXIMUM —MARCH MADNESS—

This is a continuation of a series of posts, the last of which was,  https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/02/23/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-the-peak-at-the-depth/

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 30!!! days before the new one is set up in April.

The wait through winter darkness has been long, but already the horizon at the Pole is brightening with twilight, and at 12:57 PM on March 20 the sun will blindingly streak light across the frozen waste, and we can go back to using our eyes (at least from the satellite viewing from miles above.)

I prefer using my eyes, as some of the reporting done about the ice at the Pole has been less than observant. Also there is a sense of wonder to be had from simply witnessing what goes on up there.

I try to post twice a day, with the updates added to the bottom of the post. When the post gets long and unwieldy I add a new post. I post the DMI polar maps of pressure and temperature, and maps of other areas of interest, attempting to avoid wandering too far afield and to keep polar sea-ice the main topic (and often failing.) Lastly, I have been describing how the arctic has been influencing my business in southern New Hampshire, in a segment called “Local View.”  (People of good breeding may wish to skip over these sections because, as a frustrated poet, I use them as an outlet for my propensity towards purple prose, including going so far as to hide sonnets in the prose.)

I am calling this post “March Madness” for two reasons.  First, the clash between increasing warmth in the south and residual winter in the north creates some of the greatest storms at this time, and second, people (including myself) go a bit nuts after a long winter. (Hopefully I will do so with charm and some degree of tact.)

MAR 6  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 6B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 6B temp_latest.big (1) (click to enlarge.)

The low I dubbed “Morphy” has pretty much engulfed Greenland, if you follow the 990 mb isobar right around the island. However the devil is in the details. Even this map, (which I like for its simplicity), shows the secondary I dubbed “Morpheven” has been swiveled around north of Iceland and now is deeper than Morphy. However if you really want to understand the complexity you should use your own eyes and scan the satellite view of the situation at http://www.arctic.io/explorer/ . (I’m still trying to figure out how to clip and paste these satellite shots; especially close ups.  No luck so far.)

It swiftly becomes apparent the reality is far more complex than the isobars would lead one to believe. There are whirls within the whirls, and so on. Also the winds don’t always follow the isobars. For example, though isobars suggest milder Atlantic air should cruise right across the top of the globe, it runs into a wall north of Greenland. Likely there is some sort of front there.

Now, should you want to dig deeper you can poke through the thousands of maps Dr. Ryan Maue offers at the WeatherBELL site, and perhaps, like me, wind up squinting at the Canadian “JEM” model’s initial run of “Precipitable Water.”  Then you can see the line of grey north of Greenland.

DMI Mar 6B cmc_pwat_mslp_arctic_1 (Double click to fully enlarge.)

If you would like that line in vivid red, you look at the GFS initial run of the anomalies of precipitable water. (Unfortunately GFS insists on being contrary, and prints its maps upside down, with Greenland at the top.)

DMI Mar 6B gfs_pwat_sig_arctic_1 (Double click to enlarge fully.)

You can see how the devil is in the details, and also how I could blow an entire day just delving into what exactly is occurring. I do exactly that on rare occasions, but usually I have too many other responsibilities, and prefer to skim.  That is why I like the simplicity of the DMI maps. However I urge others to dig deeper if they have the time and inclination, because as you come to comprehend the complexity you develop your sense of wonder, (and also can spot “news releases” that are basic balderdash.)

It is interesting to note that, despite being enveloped by low pressure, the icecap of Greenland persists in creating cold high pressure, which is like the center of a flower with the low like petals rotating around it. Away from that polar dance a clear cross-polar-flow is developing towards Bering Strait, and is likely to shove ice into the Beaufort Gyre.

So at this point I like to check the Navy map that shows which direction the ice is moving, and how fast :

DMI Mar 6B arcticicespddrfnowcast

This map shows that once again, rather than flushing sea-ice out of the Arctic Ocean via Fram Strait, the ice is being compressed into the Beaufort Gyre. This has happened so often over the past two years that there has been a considerable increase in thicker ice towards the arctic coasts of Canada and Alaska.  This shows as a dramatic (IE red) area of “multi-year-ice”, in another Navy map that portrays thickness:

DMI Mar 6B arcticictnowcast (click to enlarge)

It is really cool to animate this map, and watch the ice shift and pulsate with the weather patterns: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticict_nowcast_anim30d.gif

The best collection of such maps and graphs (that I know of) is at Anthony Watt’s “Sea Ice Page”:   http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/

In any case, we are entering March madness with a heck of a storm north of Iceland, which is unusual as storms have been passing well south of Iceland.  In fact their winter, (as opposed to Ireland’s and England’s,) has been remarkably sunny and windless, though I imagine Morphy has brought things back to normal.

A QUICK GLANCE AT THE UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 6B 12825081 (click to enlarge)

With Morphy and Morpheven heading north so far west of Ireland, the best the Atlantic can hit them with is weakening fronts. However they will be utterly baffled if models are correct and a large high pressure area moves up over the British Isles at the start of next week. I wish I was there to see the looks on winter-dazed faces. After so much rain, a truly sunny spell will have smiles stretching the cheeks of even cantankerous grouches, on a Monday, of all things.

I’m not sure how long the pattern will last, but it will be interesting to watch it develop.

LOCAL VIEW  —THREAT #9 SLIPPING SOUTH—

A battle 147 satsfc (3)A battle 147 rad_nat_640x480

That is an impressive storm clouting North Carolina and Virginia, especially for March, and the moisture is surging north.  I’d be worried, but too weary to bother with that. It looks like the arctic high over us is going to deflect that storm south, though it might clip Cape Cod.

It was a gorgeous day, as long as you stayed in the sunshine. As soon as you stepped into the shade you could feel the cold creeping. We might even get down to zero again tonight, for as soon as the sun slips behind the hills you can tell the dry air over us had arctic origins.

Tomorrow it will slide east, and we’ll start to get southerly winds from the high pressure’s warmer side.  Hopefully the warmth won’t breed too many clouds.

MARCH 7  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Morphy” has definitely changed the flow. Quite the Atlantic surge invading Barents Sea.

One thing you can see from this pattern is how a more traditionally placed Icelandic low assists the Gulf Stream, helping it flow up north of Norway.  For most of this winter the assistance was lacking, as the isobars suggested winds were more from the north, behind the low I called the “Britannic Low,” and blew across the Gulf Stream, perhaps deflecting surface waters more to the south.

LOCAL VIEW —Starry dawn—

A battle 148 satsfc (3)A battle 148 rad_nat_640x480

One more sub-zero morning, though the cold air is very shallow. It is -7 in the valley here but +7 atop a hill about three miles away.

Of you get up before the sun it is worth checking out the sky to the south. Venus is brilliant and silver to the southeast, as Mars is brilliant and red to the southwest.  (Mars only gets bright every 2 years or so, as our orbit catches up to it and we pass it.)

MARCH 7  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

As “Morpheven” gets stronger and “Morphy” weakens it will be interesting to see if Morpheven moves up towards the Pole, or over towards the coast of Siberia. Currently the mild air (-15 Celsius) has made it to the Pole. Siberia to Alaska cross-polar flow continuing.

UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mat 7 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 7B 12850445 (CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE)

LOCAL VIEW 

A battle 149 satsfc (3)A battle 149 rad_nat_640x480

Hope to comment later, but it is my Grandson’s birthday. First things first, y’know.

MARCH 8  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Morphy” has weakened down at the bottom of Greenland as “Morpheven” occludes up by Svalbard, and kicks a secondary, “Morphevenson,” into the Norwegian northwest coast, with a final pulse of milder air in its warm sector, but colder air being drawn inland over Scandinavia south of it.  I think this will end the current invasion of the Arctic by Atlantic air, as a new storm is brewing off this map, south of Iceland. (It is “Thretate,” which is short for what was Threat #8 on this side of the Atlantic.) The high pressure at the very bottom of this map will deflect that storm straight north to Iceland along the new storm track, replacing the west winds over Iceland with east winds, and interupting the surge from the south.

On the other side of the arctic the Siberia-to-Alaska cross-polar-flow continues, which does not bode well for North America.

UK MET MAP  —Western Europe to catch a break?—

UK Met Mar 8 12867015

What tends to catch your eye on the above map is the gale center “Thretate,” to the west of Ireland. If this was the old pattern that would head straight to the British Isles and stall there for the duration of the weekend, becoming what I called the “Britannic Low.” However a new pattern has appeared and the gale will be more well behaved, heading up to become an Icelandic Low as seen in textbooks, only kicking its cold front to the Brittish Isles.

The features that don’t catch your eye, but that should be watched, is the string of high pressures extending from western Siberia all the way down to the Azores.  Rather than being bumped to the east by changing Atlantic Gales they will stand their ground and even be pumped up, forming a wall against Atlantic attacks.

I likely should stay down to earth, and avoid talking about stuff that is over my head, but I do get curious about what is happening aloft that is causing the high pressure over Europe to stand its ground. So I check out D. Ryan Maue’s maps at WeatherBELL, to see what is happening up at the 500 mb level of  the atmosphere. (Red on these maps indicates pressures higher than normal.)

UK Met Mar 8 gfs_z500_sig_eur_1  (Double click to fully enlarge)

Hmm. It does look like a bit of a ridge is poking up over Spain and France. But what about that trough to the west? Will that ripple east and park over Dublin and London?  Let me see what Maue’s maps say the GFS says the situation looks like five days from now:

UK Met Mar 8 gfs_z500_sig_eur_21

Yowza!  That sure looks like the storm track is deflected far to the north, and Western Europe enjoys some fine weather.

Now, you may ask, does this make me happy?  No. I am green with envy, and wear the expression of a man eating garlic.

LOCAL VIEW  —Threat #10—

A battle 150 satsfc (3)A battle 150 rad_nat_640x480

It looks like we should be in a nice and mild southwest flow, judging from the above map, however the low out to sea, (Threat #9), pushed back just enough of a back-side north-flow to delay the southwest winds and keep things calm. We may be thirty degrees warmer this morning, but that is still below freezing.

I’ve got things to grouch about, however I’m going to try to see the sunny side. When I walk outside I see the drive is sheer ice, though it looks sandy. All the sand I spread was covered by around a half inch of melt-water that refroze. If this was December I’d hustle out to spread more sand. But it is March, and with the sun as high as it is at noon on December by mid-morning, I can just be lazy, and let the sun melt the ice.  In fact you notice everyone getting increasingly sloppy, when it comes to snow removal, at this time of year. In December walkways are cleanly shoveled with the edges ruler straight. Now there is more slush, and slumping sides, and less fussing, for all are winter-weary and have slumped into an attitude of, “It’ll melt.”

Threat #10 looked impressive on the long range maps, three days ago, but now it looks like the cold front will  slide by with nothing but snow showers. Of course, with the sun so much more powerful any one of those showers can boom up in the sky and dump a surprise six inches, but I’d be pessimistic if I thought that way. Instead I’m just going to make sure to keep my  snow shovel standing up where I can get at it (as opposed to laying flat on the ground where it gets buried and you scratch your head wondering where it is, under the surprise six inches.)

Now the talk is about Threat #11, arriving next Wednesday. So I should stock up the front porch with more firewood, and take care of a few other chores that are better done on a sunny day than midst heavy snow. Not that I’m pessimistic. Instead I’m working on my tan.

MARCH 8  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

“Thretate” has appeared at the bottom of the map, heading along the new pattern of south-to-north, and ignoring the old pattern of west-to-east. A high-pressure ridge has built between this new gale and the Morphy family, and likely is cutting the flow of Atlantic air up into the Arctic Sea.  Watch how quickly the mild air that is already up there cools down, remembering the sun will not rise at the Pole for another 12 days.

The Siberia to Alaska cross-polar-flow looks weaker, but is persisting.

LOCAL VIEW —Front passes quietly—

A battle 151 satsfc (3)A battle 151 rad_nat_640x480

It was a lovely, mild day, with true thawing and temperatures nudging above 40, (+4 Celsius). I relaxed in the morning and loaded up the porch with firewood in the afternoon, and also got some excersize repairing the igloo over at the Childcare. It has been so cold this winter there has been little snow that was sticky enough to build with, and the igloo I managed to put together included some blocks of dry, packed snow I cut with flat-headed shovel. That dry snow just vanishes in the warmth, and the igloo looked a bit like swiss cheese, or like someone had used it for target practice with a bazooka.

I only meant to patch the holes, but got carried away and build a front entryway. I’ll be feeling the excersize  in the morning, I’ wager. I can’t seem to limit myself, when it comes to building forts for the kids.  However with the front passing all the sticky snow in the igloo will freeze like rock, and on Monday the kids will have a hideout.

There were hardly any clouds in the sky, but as the front came through there were some strong gusts of wind.  Now it is calm again, and I’m looking southwest along the front, watching rippled run along the front towards us. We won’t get off without a bit of snow tomorrow, I’ll bet.

MARCH 9  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

Look at “Thretate.” Now, that’s an Icelandic low!  I don’t think we’ve seen a low right over Iceland like that since Autumn.  As high pressure builds to the south, it looks like it will follow “Morphevenson” over the top of Scandinavia, keeping most of Scandinavia in winds from the east. The question then becomes will they get any of the mildness from the southwest that the British Isles seems likely to enjoy, or will they be on the borders and get cooler air from the northwest.

Over the rest of the Pole the weak Siberia-to-Canada-and-Alaska cross-polar-flow persists.  A difference between the Pacific and Atlantic ice extents is apparent.

THE PACIFIC VERSUS THE ATLANTIC

Here is an interesting extent map from Anthony Watts “Sea Ice Page” at:  http://wattsupwiththat.com/reference-pages/sea-ice-page/

While this map has a weakness, because it shows neither how thick nor how concentrated the ice is, it does have an orange line which shows you where the “average” edge of the ice is, at this date. This is very helpful in terms of seeing whether the growth and shrinkage of the ice is doing anything unusual. (The map may take a while to load, and double-clicking it gives a huge version, which you can then shrink by re-clicking it.)

Extent Mar 9 N_bm_extent

What is apparent this March is that the Atlantic side has less ice than normal, especially in the Barents Sea, while over in Bering Strait the Pacific side is normal. This seems indicative of the fact thast the PDO has shifted to its “cold phase” while the AMO remains in its “warm phase.”

Here is a map I lifted from Thomas E. Downs blog at WeatherBELL showing the warm and cold phases of the PDO.

PDO warm and cold phase pdo_phases (click to enlarge)

What you notice is that, while the ocean as a whole likely doesn’t average out much colder or warmer, the location of warmth and coldness changes.  It is fairly clear the water is colder in Bering Strait and along the arctic coasts of Canada and Alaska.  So it would only be natural for ice to increase and persist more, and perhaps even increase year-to-year, as the PDO shifts to “cold phase.”

The PDO goes through all sorts of wobbles, and even can briefly revert to a “warm phase” look during the “cold phase.”  The warm pool of water shifted closer to the coast of Alaska last summer which did create a few “warm phase” reactions, however also it fueled a ridge of high pressure which drove the cold down the center of North America all winter.

My sense is that, because the Pacific is so much larger than the Atlantic, it forces the Atlantic to respond, until eventually the AMO shifts into a “warm phase” which is more in balance with the Pacific.  However perhaps, when this balance is achieved, it is out of balance in another way, which tips the Pacific towards its “cold phase.”  (Rinse and repeat.)  The entire process takes roughly sixty years.

Currently we are at a point where the Atlantic is in the process of responding to the Pacific, and the interactions create a sort of sloshing in the atmosphere, with many more cross-polar surges than would occur if things were in balance. When things are in balance the flow could be more orderly and zonal.

The devil is in the details, but this is my sense of what we have been witnessing.

LOCAL VIEW  —Birdsong beginning—

The maps show that the ripples of low pressure along the front that passed yesterday are staying south of us, so far.  It is a clear, crisp and cold dawn, with temperatures in the low twenties, (-6 Celsius.)  Winds are from the northwest, and temperatures are dripping to the teens and even single digits across the border in Vermont, not all that far upwind.

A battle 152 satsfc (3)A battle 152 rad_nat_640x480

Yesterday felt like a heat wave, with temperatures up in the low forties, (+6 Celsius,) but in fact that is only an average high temperature for early March. The winter has been so cold that normal seems warm.

Besides me noticing the warmth, the winter birds noticed as well. Mostly they are small: Chickadees, titmice, juncos and goldfinches, with unspectacular peeping and trilling. They were silent during the sub-zero spell, but have decided its safe to come out now, and are filling the underbrush with their small music, so much more modest than the thrushes and warblers that will be arriving from the south. However there is nothing modest about the woodpeckers and sapsuckers, who have started drumming the trees.  (Once in a while one will decide the way to out-do a rival is to drum against a metallic surface such as a TV aerial, which can be downright annoying, but I heard none of that yesterday.)  There is something very stirring about the deep, hollow, thunder woodpeckers make, when you get several drumming against dead trees at intervals at various distances through the trees. It is definitely an announcement: “Things are going to be different around here.”

Woodpecker hairy_01

(Photo Credit: http://www.lookoutnow.com/feeder/hairy_01.htm)

MARCH 9 —DMI EVENING MAPS—

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

“Thretate” is breaking through the high pressure ridge separating it from the Morphy family of storms, but the surge of Atlantic mildness invading Scandinavia looks like it will head east rather than north.  The cross-polar-flow over the top of these lows seems to be closing the lid on Atlantic invasions for the time being.

Watch the temperatures over the Arctic Sea to see if they drop the next few days.

A SQUINT AT UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mar 9 FSXX00T_00

UK Met Mar 9B 12900996 (CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE)

“Thretate” continues wallowing north, as “Thretine” appears in the lower left and seems likely to also follow the new pattern up towards Iceland, rather than clobbering the British Isles. A sort of wall of high pressure extends from Siberia to the Azores, shunting storms north, and even keeping the storm’s cold fronts from pushing far to the east.

However, as people in Dublin and London are suffering from post-traumatic-stress-syndrome, due to being punch-drunk after so many winter gales, some may have a deep need for some new hazard to worry about. (Sunshine makes them uneasy.) Therefore I would like to point out a potential fly-in-the-ointment, in the form of that weak low to the west of Spain. I don’t recall seeing that in the forecast models. Nothing much is likely to come of it, but it is small features such as that one which escape the notice of big computers, (flying-under-the-radar, as it were).

Therefore, if you really need the security blanket of having something to worry about, you can keep an eye on that low. Perhaps it will run up the front and give a sunny day a sprinkle of rain, and even a roll of thumping thunder.

LOCAL VIEW  —The trickster sun—

A battle 153 satsfc (3)A battle 153 rad_nat_640x480

These maps show a couple of interesting things.

First, they show the Great Lakes still can produce snow even when ice-covered, if circumstances are right.

Second, isobars show the north winds over me are turning to west winds, and a hint of the west winds even got into the final north winds, coming around the corner of the high pressure.

The analyst who drew this map, “Fanning,” was aware something was up, and drew the orange dashed line over us, and divided the high pressure into one over Virginia and one over western New York State. What isn’t so obvious is that the southern high is colder than the northern high, and the southern is from north winds and the northern is from west winds.  The west winds are kinder, and slightly less stable, though clouds are few; I can see the stars tonight, and the planet Jupiter shining beside the half moon. The lack of stability is weak, and is a sort of ghost-front, and only shown by the snow over the Great Lakes.  The change in air-masses is subtle, unless you happen to spend time in a place some modern people are unacquainted with, called “the outdoors.”

The clear boundary is Threat #10’s, much further to the south. (You would think a system named Thretten could live up to his name and threaten,  but the only threat is that low pressure left behind in the Gulf of Mexico, “Threttenson.”) However there was a clear boundary, felt by skin, between the truly arctic discharge of the north wind and the more benign air of the west wind. However thermometers didn’t show it. Why? Because the coldest air passed when the March sunshine was highest and brightest. Temperatures stayed fairly flat all day, but did rise slightly as the coldest air moved through, and then fell slightly as the milder air arrived as the sun sank low. In other words, skin registered something the thermometer missed.

(There is a whole essay worth writing, which I hope to get to work on, regarding the difference between being-out-in-the-weather and being-removed-from-reality, but that will have to wait. My focus now is how cold it felt despite the bright sun.)

As the core of the cold passed over, the morning March sun had the power to produce puddles on the street, though the thermometer in the shade stated it was still below freezing. The sun was sort of a trickster, producing a scene that looked warm though it wasn’t.

I can recall when, as a little boy, the brilliant face of the jolly March sun beamed in at me, filled me with boyish joy, and called me out like a best friend to run without reason in happy rays, that as soon as I stepped out the door the bitter air told me to pause, and perhaps wait until noon for more warming.

Now I’m wise, and the glare of the old, trickster sun cannot fool me…or does it? I check the thermometer and sagely stay in, but what did I see that made me check? (Some distant, bright glitter is calling from between the snow-swept trees like an old best friend from a lost time’s ease.)

They say that people who win the lottery often end up incredibly miserable, despite their good fortune.  Perhaps they are miserable because they can afford to stay indoors and removed-from-reality, and miss the contact with what is real.

MARCH 10  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Marc 10 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 10 temp_latest.big (1)

COMMENT ON HIDDEN SONNETS

I hid a sonnet in last night’s purple prose.  Written in a more formal manner it would look like this:

I can recall when, as a little boy,
The brilliant face of the jolly March sun
Beamed in on me, filled me with boyish joy
And called me out like a best friend to run
Without reason in happy rays, that as soon
As I stepped out the door the bitter air
Told me to pause, and perhaps wait until noon
For more warming. Now I’m wise, and the glare
Of the old trickster sun cannot fool me…
Or does it? I check the thermometer
And sagely stay in, but what did I see
That made me check? Some distant, bright glitter
Is calling from between the snow-swept trees
Like an old best friend from a lost time’s ease.

Although I obey my own rules regarding rhythm, (and stricter poets might claim I abuse my iambs), I do obey a lot of constraining conventions, such as having ten syllables per line and a rhyme scheme of ABABCDCDEFEFGG.  Even as I obey all these restraints, I am suppose to make the result sound like ordinary speech, (albeit prose that is a bit purple.)  When I hide a sonnet in my ordinary prose it is to see how well I am doing. If I am doing well you shouldn’t know you are reading a sonnet, even as you do so.

In the same way, order is hidden in weather maps that seem very chaotic. In actual fact there is no such thing as chaos. When we think we see disorder, and call it “chaos,” it only demonstrates our incapacity to comprehend our Creator. Therefore it is sometimes better to stop frustrating our brains by trying to make sense of clouds that are far above our heads, and instead to sit back and enjoy the show.

LOCAL VIEW  —A dusting of snow—

I got a bit of a surprise this morning when I saw the blue daylight of dawn show light snow falling, and a radar map looking like this:

A battle 154 rad_ec_640x480_01

However the snow settled south and more or less evaporated in the strong March sunshine, and, though I had to rush off and sweep the walkways at the Childcare and spread sand, the situation now looks like this at noon:

A battle 154 satsfc (3)A battle 154 rad_nat_640x480

The snow was caused by those west winds I talked about last night moving milder air in. The only fronts they show are stationary, one down in the Carolinas and one up north of the Canadian border, but I figure that west wind deserves some sort of orange dashed line, considering I had to sweep it up, and also you can see the stream of clouds back all the way west to Nebraska.

However that is but a pettifogging detail, considering we now have a heavy snow watch for Wednesday onto Thursday.  I still have a hope the cold will come pressing back down from the north enough to push it all south of us, but I confess it is a slender hope.  It looks like our luck is about to run out.

I’ll post maps, but likely my comments will be brief. Besides making ready for the storm I have an essay brewing in the back of my mind, and likely will be working on that as well.

MAR 10  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

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

UKMET MAP

UK Met Mar 10B 12926977  (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

Storm track continues north, well west of Ireland.

A battle 155 satsfc (3)A battle 155 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

I’m just going to pretend that light snow isn’t headed our way. Why spoil a good night’s sleep?

MARCH 11  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

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

“Thretine” is taking the new storm track up Denmark Strait, on the west side of Iceland, about as far from the old storm track as you can get, as western Europe experiences this odd thing they can hardly remember called “high pressure.”  “Thretate” has merged with the Morphy family of storms, and is churning east along the Siberian coast, giving northern Scandinavia some polar winds in its wake, but pushing the ice away from the Siberian coast of the Kara Sea and even the Laptev sea, as can be seen in this animation of sea-ice thickness: http://www7320.nrlssc.navy.mil/hycomARC/navo/arcticict_nowcast_anim30d.gif  This may reduce sea-ice extent and open a channel along the coast, while crunching up and thickening the ice towards the Pole.  The air blowing off shore will form new ice quickly, but it will be thin.

The air over the the Pole is cooling fairly quickly.

A GLANCE AT THE MORNING UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mar 11 12939617 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

The people of Dublin and London must be looking about, blinking in disbelief and wondering if they are on the same planet as they were during the winter, as high pressure settles over them. The weak cold front that pushed east into the channel is stronger up in Scandinavia, where it is closer to the storm track.  It will be a battle to get the nice weather up there, especially to the east in Finland, as “Thretine’s” fronts will be closer as it passes north of Norway, however southern Scandinavia may get in on the glory days.

“Thretten”,  appearing to the lower left, will take the same path as “Thretine”, but a little further east, and as the lovely pattern starts to break down it’s fronts will start to nudge into Scotland by Friday as it stalls northwest of Norway, and a secondary forms northwest of Scotland.  Here is the forecast map for late Friday:

UK Met Mar 11 friday forecast 12943734

The above map is only a forecast, and reality may be different, but if I was in Ireland or England I’d make sure to get out and take long lunches during the week, for by the weekend it may be windier and showery.

LOCAL VIEW  —Forecast turns gloppy—

A battle 156 satsfc (3)A battle 156 rad_nat_640x480

Just before I went to sleep I glanced out the bedroom window, and saw snowflakes swirling around the streetlight by the street, as that small feature you can see departing northern Maine passed through. It didn’t keep me awake, as I got plenty of exercise moving firewood yesterday. I slept like a brick, and this morning I’m about as flexible as a brick, but refreshed.

All eyes are on Threat #11, now gathering strength out in Nebraska. Henseforth I’ll call it “Thretelve.” A lot depends on how far south the cold front of its parent-low rippling weakly to our north comes, and how quickly the arctic front further north is brought into play.  (A interesting factor is the weak “Thretenson” in the western Gulf of Mexico.  It may be able to tug the storm further south.)

Currently we still have a winter storm watch, but now the forecast includes rain and freezing rain at the heart of the storm, before it turns back to snow at the end.  That would be a mess, especially as all the slush would freeze to rock in the storm’s cold aftermath.

MARCH 11 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 11B pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mat 11B temp_latest.big (1)

“Thretine” is much weaker north of Iceland, but isobars between it and strong high pressure to the south is shifting northwest winds over Scandinavia to the southwest.

The cross-polar-flow is weakening and starting to meander, as the air over the Pole gets colder.

UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 11B 12951796 (CLICK TO ENLARGE)

All those fronts in the Atlantic will be swept north, and the beautiful weather will last, even getting into southern Scandinavia. Soak it up.  It doesn’t look so lovely in the long range, with a deep low pressure trough over Europe in ten days.

LOCAL VIEW  —False echoes—

A battle 157 satsfc (3)A battle 157 rad_nat_640x480

With the Analyst “King” drawing so many lows on the map, and the radar producing so many false echoes, I’m not even going to attempt to guess if we’ll get rain or snow. (My hunch is more snow than they now forecast, which is 1-3 inches.)

It’s been a beautiful day, with a warm sun and temperatures up to 51.  I’m just going to enjoy the sunburn. Let tomorrow bring what it will.

MARCH 12  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 12 pressure mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 12 temp_latest.big (1)

“Thretine” is slightly stronger as it moves north of Norway towards the Morphy family of storms, retaining surprising strength in the Kara Sea.  Most of the Atlantic input of relative mildness is pumped south of these two storms, part of a larger flow of relatively mild air (only slightly below freezing) that holds sway over western Siberia and the western and central Russian steppes. There is a turn to much colder (below zero [F]) air to the south and east of the Morphy family, and Morphy is pulling that colder air north into the Arctic Sea. All in all the two storms are cooling the Pole more than warming it, at this point.

“Threten” is getting its act together west of Iceland in Denmark Strait, and looks likely to start out on the northern storm-track, but then veer more to the south, crashing into northern Scandinavia from the northwest.  “Thretelve,” which is effecting my neighborhood today, looks like it will scoot across the Atlantic even further to the south, passing over Iceland and then hitting more southern parts of Scandinavia, winding up in the Baltic next weekend. The southward progression of the storm-track suggests the Pole will be exporting air down into the north Atlantic, rather than the flow being up from the Atlantic to the Pole.

The cross-polar flow continues, but is weak. It curves around Greenland into Hudson Bay. Meanwhile a counter flow is developing from Alaska back to eastern Siberia, as a low in southern Alaska generates low pressure in the Bering Strait.  Between the two flows is a ridge of high pressure bisecting the Pole.

UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 12 12965767  (Click to enlarge)

Looks like lovely weather for most of Europe today.

Low pressure is going to stop heading north of Norway, and start attacking down into Scandinavia. By Saturday a storm could be cutting southeast right where the high pressure is now located, and the high pressure will be nudged down to the Azores.  This Azores high could keep things pleasant in the south of the British Isles, even as the Scotland gets the front and edges of that storm passing to its north. The North Sea and Baltic Sea will become the battle-line between a counter-attack of winter, and sweet springtime over France.

LOCAL VIEW  —I burned the sap—

A battle 158 satsfc (3)A battle 158 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It looks like the rain-snow line is setting up just north of me, and the storm will begin as rain. The trouble will start in the evening, as the cold presses south and the rain turns to snow.

However I burned the sap, so trouble has already started for me. Rather than delicous maple syrup, I have only charcoal to offer the children.  That will not go over well, nor will the way the pot looks go over well with my wife.  It is one of those mornings where I wish there was a rock I could go crawl under and hide like a worm.

LOCAL VIEW  —At noon—Nothing—(except aching joints)—

A battle 159 satsfc (3)A battle 159 rad_ec_640x480

I’ve been watching this storm rush towards us without enthusiasm. I’ve got better things to do than deal with snow. (Such as clean a burned pot.) When I’m rich, and can afford hiring some strong young fellow to do my work, my attitude may switch back to the way it was when I was younger, and relished storms.

The wind was light and from the north all morning, which suggests the cold air is sneaking south “under the radar.” The pressure was falling to 29.50 fairly swiftly. The clouds were high and from the west (and from the west-north-west at sunset yesterday). We even had a bit of milky sunshine this morning through thick high clouds. The clouds abruptly came up from the south, which gave me more hope of rain. However down here on earth the wind was still from the north.

Another hope is this storm might zoom by so fast it hasn’t the time to cloud us.  It isn’t the sort of storm that gets blocked and just sits off Cape Cod dumping on us.  Instead it is surging northeast at top speed. I think it has an appointment to be across the Atlantic and in the Baltic Sea by Saturday.

Fine with me. I’m promoted to chief pot scrubber for a while.

LOCAL VIEW  —Storm speeding past—6:00 and pressure down to 29.15

A battle 160 satsfc (3)A battle 160 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Dry slot headed up our way. We could escape with little more than a dusting, if we are lucky. (Surprisingly, even the kids are starting to seem sick of the snow.)

MARCH 12 —AFTERNOON DMI MAPS—

DMI Mar 12B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 12B temp_latest.big (1)

Pole is colder. It has “reloaded.”

MARCH 13  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 13 mslp_latest.bigDMI March 13 temp_latest.big (1)

LOCAL VIEW  —Just an inch—

A battle 161 satsfc (3)A battle 161 rad_ec_640x480

Barometer 29.15 and rising, with light snow. Time to go clean the walkways at the childcare.

LOCAL VIEW  —Lunchtime Report—2 inches in snow squalls—

A battle 162 satsfc (3)A battle 162 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Temperatures were around 20 when I got to work, but had dropped to 13 by 9:30 AM. There is a roaring wind and drifting snow, and squalls that often don’t show up on the weather radar. They must be low scud having its moisture squeezed out by the cold.  We have actually had more snow after the storm than during the storm.

The good side of the cold is that it will slow the run-off and keep the streams and rivers at a lower level. There is an amazing amount of water stored in our foot of snow cover.

MARCH 13 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 13B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 13B temp_latest.big (1)

“Morphy” is stalled and weakening on the Siberian coast in the Kara Sea, however its east-side winds pushed ice away from the shores of both the Kara Sea and the Eastern Laptev Sea. This exposed warer swiftly freezes over, but may lead to a swift ice-melt this spring in coastal areas, and slower ice-melt further off shore, where the ice piled up.

“Threten” has restrengthened and is diving towards the northwest coast of Norway, sucking some Atlantic air up the Norwegian coast, however this air for the most part seems likely to get wrapped around and will wind up wound-up occusions, rather than invading the Pole, which continues to get colder.

“Thretelve” is just appearing at the southern tip of Greenland.

UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mar 13 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 13B 13004741  (Click maps to enlarge)

Even as these maps show “Threten” bombing out off Norway, they show the high over Europe is so strong it keeps the cold front from penetrating farther south than the top of Scotland. This high pressure will sag south slightly as “Thretelve,” south of Greenland, rushes across the Atlantic and into the Baltic Sea on Saturday. Not even it, on a more southerly track, will be able to drive fronts far south.  Scandinavia will get all the weather, as most of the rest of Europe gets a sunny spell. Enjoy it while it lasts.  “Thretelvis,” who has given me a wild day over on this side of the Pond, is just appearing as warm fronts to the lower left, and it is likely to nudge the kindly high pressure a bit further south.

LOCAL VIEW  —Purple hands, purple nose, and purple prose—

A battle 163 satsfc (3)A battle 163 rad_nat_640x480

At the top right corner is “Thretelve” is rushing off to a date with Denmark on Saturday, and below it is the storm that gave us a better backlash than front-lash, which should be called “Thretelveson” but I’ve decided to call “Thretelvis,” because it made things sway.

Yesterday was so mild that even the packed paths in the snow got soggy, and each step plunged down knee deep, and just walking fifty yards up a hill to get a sap bucket was exhausting, and left me leaning against the tree catching my breath. This morning was so cold I walked right along the top of the same snow, but found new things to gripe about, due to a wind that blew snow in your eyes like a sandstorm and sometimes tried to butt you off your feet.

The kids at the Childcare did go out, likely because it looked wonderful out the window, and they clamored to go out, but once they were out they were clamoring to go back in, and wound up spending most of the day indoors. I would have stayed in, but had to make amends for burning the sap, though the trees swiftly stopped producing any sap when temperatures dropped to the teens. All in all I only gleaned about two gallons, which will make perhaps a cup of syrup for sugar-on-snow.  I said the heck with boiling it outside, which I usually do to avoid steaming up the house and making the ceiling sticky. The air was so dry I decided the house could use the humidity.  So I did manage to stay indoors more, but not entirely, and the time I was outside was murder.

I’ve confessed I’m no longer fond of winter, but when it gets really extreme the embers of my old heart get stirred, and even though I hardly curse at all any more, in ordinary circumstances, in the most vicious winds colorful curses spring to my purple lips. A veritable rainbow of blasphemy can pass through my mind, even if the children are about and I don’t speak. In the end the rainbow turns purple, as the best outlet for extremities upon extremities is purple prose. And purple prose is more satisfying than just cursing, in the same way that singing the blues is more fulfilling than cursing, when your love-life drives you to drink.

Therefore I suppose I should be thankful for awful weather. They say, “you’ve got to pay the dues if your going to play the blues,” and therefore the sandblasting wind was dues I was paying, for poetry.  And I must say it did approach some different level of consciousness at times, when the gusts made me stagger, and my life passed before my eyes. But my more pragmatic side just wanted to get out of the outside, knowing this cruel day is better seen through a pane than walked through.

The pain the wind blew, (nails and needles,) threw spears, drew tears, grew the mane of a wild white horse tossing flared contrails from mad nostrils, mad eyes and mad white teeth biting, wheeling, kicking, whirling, sinking, settling to just snow seething flat beneath slacked wind between surf roars in pines winking harsh light, swaying thick trunks, brandishing boughs like shaken fists, all lion-voiced but then howling up to a scream, as white swirling stings the distance pale, ’til it’s haze-hidden and I stagger inside.

Here I’ll remain, for this cruel day is best seen through a pane by a warm stove.  I watch the snow’s hard crust be polished to a glare by whistling powder’s drifting ripples.

Bending crows with their thrust, making all small birds hide from their powers, the winds roar onward, scoop falcon zephyrs towards uncertain dooms as the sun burns brass low between corridor shadows the firs and pines sway across a glossy canvass made of polished snow.

Brassy is the glare of of the snow and the sky and the sunk sun, and brassy is the taste of grim despair ending a day I wish hadn’t begun, though I must see it through, although I rue confessing this cruel day is best seen through a window made of art gallery frames, painted by an artist who knows the view for he once walked within the canvas creation I’m staggered by.

(OK. Enough of that purple profundity. Can you spot the hidden sonnet?)

MARCH 14  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 14 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 14 temp_latest.big (1)

“Threten” is stalled off the northwest coast of Norway, bringing strong east winds across Scandinavia and likely a lot of sea-ice south through Fram Strait.

Milder Pacific air is working towards the Pole across Alaska, though the Pole as a whole continues cold, nearly down to “normal.”

LOCAL VIEW  —Cold’s core out to sea; warm-up ahead—

A battle 164 satsfc (3) A battle 164 rad_nat_640x480

The worst cold passed during the daylight yesterday. Last night was not as cold as I expected, with the snow-cover fresh, as the winds didn’t slacken until dawn.  Winds slackened earlier to our west, and in the Connecticut River valley at the Vermont border they set some records with sub-zero readings, but most places around here were down around 10 (F).

Now the March sunshine is brilliant, and the map shows a nice southwest flow behind the arctic high, and the radar shows dryness.  I’m dubbing that low over the Great Lakes, (Threat #14,) “Marchair.”  I’ll hopefully explain my reasons later, but now I have to hurry over to the Childcare and hopefully redeem myself by treating the kids to a little maple sugar on snow. (My name has been mud, since I burned the sap earlier in the week.)

March 14 — DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 14B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 14B temp_latest.big (1)

UK Met Maps  —March 14 and 15—

UK Met Mar 14 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 14B 13030969UK Met Mar 15 13045649 (Click maps to enlarge)

“Thretelve” has rippled across the Atlantic into the Baltic as expected, but the kindly high pressure is fighting back and pushing its fronts back north, and even keeping “Thetelvis” bottled up back in Baffin Bay.  However this apparently is a last hurrah, as the kindly high will be flattened, and squeezed east by a reversal in the upper air flow.

This reversal can be seen in two of Dr. Ryan Maue’s maps from his WeatherBELL site,  the first showing the current situation, with the lovely upper air ridge over the British Isles, and a trough back over North America. The trough flattens out as it presses up and over the high, and then digs down to give us the second map, which forecasts a trough over the British Isles five days from now. (These maps show the 500 mb level.)

CURRENT MAP  UK Met Mar 15 gfs_z500_sig_natl_1

120 HOUR MAP UK Met Mar 15 gfs_z500_sig_natl_21 

This should be an interesting reversal to watch.  Care to make a guess at what sort of surface features such an upper air map will produce? (Double click the Maue maps to fully enlarge them.)

MARCH 15  —DMI Morning Maps—

DMI Mar 15 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 15 temp_latest.big (1)

“Threten” continues to occlude and be flattened northwest of Norway, even as some of its energy is kicked east into coastal Siberia, to be joined by “Thretelve” rushing through the Baltic. While sea-ice is still likely being flushed through Fram Strait, it is interesting that once again Iceland enjoys high pressure, and the isobars between Iceland and Norway suggest winds that are not helping the Gulf Stream warmth get north.

An interesting feature in this map involves the milder isotherms curving around Morphy, as Morphy is reinforced by a low coming up from the Steppes to the south.  Even a month ago south winds from Siberia would supply the coldest air, however the situation over Siberia is changing, as the days lengthen. Siberia is no longer the icebox it was, as the days soon will be longer than the nights.  While the sun is still low, and there are still some patches of sub-zero (-17 Celsius) air, we are transitioning into a time when south winds from Siberia will be warm.

It looks like the addition of the low from the south and Thretelve charging past the Baltic will make Morphy part of a general pool of low pressure bulging towards the Pole, recreating the Siberia-to-Canada cross-polar-flow.  Likely this this will be the last truly arctic blast delivered south into North America,  as conditions change in the source regions due the wonders of sunshine.

LOCAL VIEW  —Whiplash weather—

A battle 165 satsfc (3)A battle 165 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

It is above freezing this morning, with rain pattering lightly on the roof.  We are in the warm sector of “Marchair,” passing to our north. When its cold front, now over the Great lakes, swings by this evening temperatures will crash, and tomorrow morning it will be 15, just as it was 10 yesterday morning after being mild the morning before.

You get a sort of whiplash if you allow your heart to surge with hope with each mild hint of spring.  You know it will be crushed by following cold, but you are made manic by the sunbeams just the same. It is so illogical I think the logical must be biological.

Yesterday I redeemed myself by serving the children at the Childcare sugar-on-snow.  In the process I demonstrated that after you burn the sap life isn’t over. Just because you may feel like a worm is no reason to behave like a worm. You pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start scrubbing the pots. When the pots are clean you start all over again, and wind up snatching success from the jaws of defeat, and also licking your lips, because the result tastes so good.

I salvaged some humor, (though I did not feel the sap-burning situation was funny at the time,) by showing the children how I behaved when I discovered I had left the outdoors burner on and burned the sap to a crisp.  I acted it out, stomping around kicking the snow and raging at the sky, and the kids found that was very funny, especially when I said, “How could I have been so stupid!” and slapped my forehead, continuing  “Dumb-dumb-dumb, duh-duh-duh, stooooopid!”  Then they looked very interested when I stopped, put my hands on my hips, and said, “There must be someone else I can blame for this. Who can I blame?”

The children looked thoughtful, and then one suggested, “The goats?”

I put on an enlightened and hopeful face, nodding, but then pretended doubt crept in, and finally concluded I couldn’t blame the goats as they were in the stable.  So we considered other options.  The dog? No, it was back at the other house.  The rabbit? The chickens? The rooster? Nope, they were caged. Then I allowed a eureka to escape my lips, raised an index finger, and said, “I’ve got it! I’ll blame you guys!”

The children did not think this was a very good idea. I said it probably wasn’t, because they had all gone home when I burned the sap, however I could always say that it didn’t matter if they weren’t around, because I burned the sap because they had driven me, (and here I dramatically paused, took a deep breath, and then waved my hands, bulged my eyes, made my voice shaky and high, and uttered the word) “crazy” (in a long, wailing, and drawn out manner.)

They all looked at me in delighted horror, and then one said, “Do it again!”

After “doing-it-again” around ten times, I got down to scrubbing the pots, conceding, as I did so, that I had no one to blame but myself, and that the thing to do, when you make a mistake, is to fix it.

I would like to be able to say I had this all planned out beforehand, and that I burned the sap on purpose, to demonstrate to small children how to handle emotions and how to recover from a debacle. However the entire thing was an example of flying by the seat of my pants. In actual fact, when I actually have a plan, more than half the time children swiftly make my “curriculum” mincemeat. They live in a world of spontaneity and appreciate spontaneous responses.

In order to be spontaneous, and not have the result be ruin, you need to be able to trust yourself, and to be fairly certain you are not prompted by subconscious demons, and this involves years of the trial-and-error called “life.” It is important to have elders who give you guidelines to go by, but the actual learning can be done by none but yourself, and there are times you feel very alone. You are never actually alone, because God is everywhere, but you sure can feel alone. However if you persist you can arrive at a point where spontaneity is something you can trust.

This is not to say it ever gets easy. Even at age sixty-one there are times the hardest thing to do is to get out of bed, especially when I’ve disappointed a bunch of small children by burning the sap.

LOCAL VIEW  —Hidden sonnets revealed—

A battle 166 satsfc (3)A battle 166 rad_nat_640x480

There’s plenty to worry about on this map, if one is so inclined, but I have been seduced by a beautiful day, and am not inclined.  Or, I should say, I am not currently inclining, though I have been in a lazy mood, and did incline a bit after lunch.

The rain rolled away early, and the sky cleared to a kindly blue with the sun wonderfully warm. I couldn’t do the weekly deposit at my desk, and did it sitting on the front porch in the sun. Of course, when I arrived at the bank a check was missing, but after a brief panic I found it behind the woodpile, where a stray breeze had blown it, and when I returned to the bank I was in a better mood than ever.  A brief panic is a sort of tonic to your system, I suppose, providing all works out well. Also it enhanced my reputation, at the bank, as a dreamy airhead and mad poet.

Speaking of poetry, I should give the solutions to the hidden sonnet parts of prior posts.

I cheated in the March 13th post, because I changed the punctuation in order to hide the sonnets. I say sonnets because there were two. It was what I call a sonnet-duo, [which is pronounced as if it was one word, (perhaps Italian?) “Sonneduo.”]  It went like this:

THE SEEN-THROUGH SONNET DUO
 
This cruel day is better seen through a pane
Than walked through. The pain the wind blew, (nails
And needles,) threw spears, drew tears, grew the mane
Of a wild white horse tossing flared contrails
From mad nostrils, mad eyes and mad white teeth
Biting, wheeling, kicking, whirling, sinking,
Settling to just snow seething flat beneath
Slacked wind between surf roars in pines winking
Harsh light, swaying thick trunks, brandishing
Boughs like shaken fists, all lion-voiced but then
Howling up to a scream, as white swirling
Stings the distance pale, ’til it’s haze-hidden
And I stagger inside. Here I’ll remain,
For this cruel day is best seen through a pane.
 
By a warm stove I watch the snow’s hard crust
Be polished to a glare by whistling powder’s
Drifting ripples. Bending crows with their thrust,
Making all small birds hide from their powers,
The winds roar onward, scoop falcon zephyrs
Towards uncertain dooms as the sun burns brass
Low between corridor shadows the firs
And pines sway across a glossy canvass
Made of polished snow. Brassy is the glare
Of the snow and the sky and the sunk sun,
And brassy is the taste of grim despair
Ending a day I wish hadn’t begun,
Though I must see it through, although I rue
Confessing this cruel day is best seen through.

I also hid a sonnet in my last post, on March 6, above the picture of the Cardinal

THE CARDINAL SONNET
 
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.

That will end my poetry for a while, for I must embark upon one of the most un-poetic voyages there is: Doing my taxes.  Not that I won’t be driven to write some spiteful doggerel.  It drives me half mad that I have to be responsible, and then the imbeciles in Washington take my money and are incredibly irresponsible with it.

But I’m not going to let it get to me, No, No, No.  This year will be different. I’m going to keep my cool and pretend it is a sort of crossword puzzle I’m doing while reading the paper, for my own pleasure, on a cozy Sunday afternoon.

It likely will get my brains working in a more down-to-earth wave-length, and then, after the taxes are done, I plan to use those pragmatic brain-cells to reorganize this blog-site.

That is another effect of spring sunshine. It makes you ambitious, even if you’re old enough to know better.

MARCH 15  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 15B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 15B temp_latest.big (1)

MARCH 16  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 16 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 16 temp_latest.big (1)

“Threten” remains as a general area of low pressure northwest of Norway, as what remains of “Thetelvis” moves over Iceland to join it, creating the sort of confused web of occlusions that makes forecasting in the North Atlantic more changing than areas further south.

“Thetelve” has moved beyond the Baltic and is east of Finland, moving towards a rejuvinated “Morphy.”  As these two lows swing around each other, (performing an arctic version of the Fujiwara effect,) they will create a situation where high pressure is on the Canadian side and low pressure on the Siberian side of the Pole. This may flush some ice towards the Atlantic and create a false peak in the arctic sea-ice extent.  (False because it is not due to freezing as much as it is due to flushing.)

UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 16 13067783 (click to enlarge)

The kindly high pressure is hanging tough, southwest of Ireland, but the squeeze has begun, and a strong westerly flow is developing across northern Europe, as “Threteven ” moves away east of Finland.  It looks like an east-west front, with ripples on it, will divide that westerly flow into polar air over Scandinavia and northern Germany, and milder air from the kindly high and the Azores to the south.  At this point the front is expected to sag south as the kindly high retreats, without any major storms appearing, however that only looks forward five days.  My antennae are twitching, sensing something is brewing.

The low in the lower left is not “Marchair,” which is just off the map. I think it is a secondary or tertiary storm on what is left of Thretelve’s cold front. I’ll dub it “Thretersh”. It is expected to stall where it is, and then be kicked ahead by Marchair, arriving over northern Scotland as a weak, dissolving occlusion-spiral on Tuesday, and drifting on in the westerly flow to the Baltic by Wedensday.  Meanwhile, rather than turning into a big gale, it seems Marchair will rest content to flatten into a bunch of ripples in a strong westerly flow.

The north Atlantic is so prone to brew up big gales that it seems downright odd, especially in March, to have the flow be so flat.

LOCAL VIEW   —Bastardi baffled—(Me too)—

A battle 167 satsfc (3)A battle 167 rad_nat_640x480

This sure looks like the set-up for a storm to me: A big cold high pressure to the north and lots of juice to the south.  However rather than brewing anything up it seems the moisture will side meekly out to sea, well to my south.  When I went looking for an explanation I noted Joe Bastardi at WeatherBELL, who I respect for his genius and honesty, stated he too was “stumped” by the behavior of this pattern.

Not that I’m complaining.  I’m glad I don’t have to shovel and trudge around behind the snow-blower, though in actual fact I’d prefer doing that to doing my taxes.

MARCH 16  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 16B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 16B temp_latest.big (1)

I’m going to call that combination of lows netween Iceland and Norway “Elvis.” It is  blocking Atlantic air from getting into the Arctic, and instead strong westerlies are swooshing that air across Europe,  North of there a lobe of high pressure is poking down over Svalbard, and had stopped the flow of ice through Fram Strait.  It also is delivering north winds into northern Scandinavia, but interestingly those north winds are not especially cold, at this point.  The air over the Barents, Kara and Laptev Seas is actually relatively mild, despite the fact no Atlantic invasion is going on, and despite the fact “Morphy” is sucking air up from Siberia.  Siberia simply lacks the punch it once had.

However the Pole still has power, as the twilight hasn’t been broken by the sun. The minus-thirty air swirling around it is some of the coldest air we’ve seen up there this winter, and the cold is building at a time the DMI graph shows temperatures usually begin to rise.

DMI Mar 16B meanT_2014 (click graph to enlarge)

MARCH 17  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 17 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 17 temp_latest.big (1)

UK MET  MAP

UK Met Mar 17 13092956

The kindly high has fought back and reclaimed Scotland and denmarp from the polar flow.  A last hurrah?

LOCAL VIEW  —Another frigid morning—

A battle 168 satsfc (3)A battle 168 rad_nat_640x480

8 Degrees to start the day. ( -13 Celsius) Typical Monday gloom. Grey overcast from a storm down over Washington DC.  Good. Maybe it will slow their spending a little.

It cleared up later but stayed cold. The snow just fades away in the bright sunshine, seeming to evaporate more than melt. It was odd to think that on Saint Patricks Day two years ago it was eighty degrees (27 Celsius) and the soil was thawed enough to plant some peas.  We still have eight inches of snow and enough ice on the rivers to worry about ice jams.

MARCH 17  —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 17B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 17B temp_latest.big (1)

OCTOBER 18  —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 18 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 18 temp_latest.big (1)

“Morphy” continues to whirl, though weakening, over Barents Sea, bringing air up from Siberia over the Pole. Ordinarily this would be cold air, even with the sun now up on the Siberian coast, however central Siberia is enjoying a balmy spell with temperatures up near freezing, which is twenty degrees above normal. The real arctic cold has been displaced down into Canada, (which is a bit annoying for me, as I’ve had enough of winter.)

Because the air moving up over the Pole from Siberia has a source region down in the steppes around the Caspian, it is much drier than Atlantic air, and cools swiftly.  This may raise the “relative humidity” but doesn’t raise the amount of “precipitable water” in the air, and reduces the chance for any snow, and even reduces the amount of latent heat turned into available heat.  It is worth thinking about the differences this sort of air mass has, compared to an Atlantic one.

The Fram-Strait-flushing has resumed, with winds turning north there.

UK MET MAP  —The kindly high retreats—

UK Met Mar 18 13118132 (Click map to enlarge)

The kindly high is now west of Spain, and the gnawing of the colder Atlantic westerlies are chewing its edges southward. “Thretersh” has been booted ahead towards Scotland, as Marchair hangs back as a Labrador Low.  Europe is basically in a westerly flow, with colder Atlantic air to the north and milder air from the Azores to the south.

The kindly high is forecast to stage a final counter attack, but in effect will be caught up in the flow and move as a kindly blob into southern France, where its west-side warm winds will combine with “Marchair’s” east-side warm winds to bring a final surge of warmth north, though it will likely be spoiled by the strength of the wind and showers. Then we will watch to see if Marchair settles southeast as a final example of the Icelandic Low becoming the Britannic Low, before we can leave the wet winter in the past.

The recent flow of mild air into Europe rather than up to the Pole extended east into the Steppes and up to Siberia, where Siberians were likely overjoyed to see the intense cold break.  (The cold was all shipped across the Pole to freeze the socks off people in North America.) The departures from normal are now impressive.  If you want to get silly about proof of end-of-the-world Global Warming, it is best you ignore North America, and focus on Siberia. To help you find misery in the joy of Siberians, I’ll include a Dr. Ryan Maue WeatherBELL map showing the temperature anomalies over Asia, which makes the mildness over Siberia clear. (Remember, the map shows anomalies, not temperatures.  The highest anomalies still represent temperatures at freezing.)

UK Met Mar 18 gfs_t2m_anomf_asia_1 (Double click to fully enlarge)

LOCAL VIEW  —THE COLD HANGS ON—

A battle 169 satsfc (3)A battle 169 rad_nat_640x480

It was 6 degrees (-14 Celsius) when I drove the kids to kindergarten at 8:20 Am, after the sun had been up over an hour. This is getting ridiculous. However the snow is actually shrinking, sublimating into thin air in brilliant sunshine. Only in the most protected places is the sun able to produce actual puddles, which freeze as the sun sinks in the late afternoon. There are none of the melt-water rivulets that engrossed me as a boy, and got me in trouble because I could never manage to walk home from school without getting my school clothes muddy.

I’m going to be busy with an essay for a while.

MARCH 18 —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 18B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 18B temp_latest.big (1)

MARCH 19 —DMI MORNING MAPS—

DMI Mar 19 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 19 temp_latest.big (1)

We have to start paying to how daylight effects temperatures now. Roughly speaking, the bottom half of these maps are in night as the top half is in day. This will be reversed in the afternoon map.  Watch to see how much colder the upper half is at night.

Morphy continues to fade. I feel like fading a bit, myself.

UK MET MAP

UK Met Mar 19 13143028 CLICK TO ENLARGE

The kindly high is losing a fight with “Marchair” but some nice weather is nudging into France. That high pressure will be swept by the westerlies to the Black Sea by Friday, as Marchair stands victorious over the Atlantic and shifts the winds to the south over western Europe, but they will be cooler south winds, with a polar source region rather than coming from the Azores.

MARCH 19   —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 19B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 19B temp_latest.big (1)

LOCAL VIEW   —Warm front approaching; wet snow falling—

A battle 170 satsfc (3)A battle 170 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

I was up until 1:30 last night writing an essay, and now I’m paying the price. When I get a bee in my bonnet I just can’t rest until it is out and on the page.  It is great fun, but the next day I suffer a sort of hang-over, and the work looks like garbage.  But I’ll get over it.

It was clear at sunrise, and up to 16 degrees (-9 Celsius) which seemed warm, after what we’ve been through. By 9:00 AM  it was clouding up, as a warm front pushed towards us, and sleet began in the late afternoon, which has now changed to wet snow.  That is the price you pay for milder weather: Snow.

There is a lot of talk about another arctic blast coming on  Sunday night, and lasting well into next week.  People are definitely starting to grumble about the unrelenting cold.

MARCH 19 —DMI MORNING MAPS—Sunrise at the North Pole—

DMI Mar 20 mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 20 temp_latest.big (1)

The sun is rising at the North Pole, and it won’t set until September. It will take a while to warm enough for the ice to start melting, so the next 30 days or so will represent a window of opportunity. It will be light enough to see, and the ice will be hard enough to walk on without having to deal with slush or melt-water pools. My best wishes and prayer go to the fellows who head up that way now, and risk meetings with 1600 pound bears to set up the arrays of intruments I enjoy so much.

The map shows that even as Morph fades reinforcements are arriving from the south, while down in the Atlantic Marchair is gathering stray storms into a sizable entity.  Low pressure is staying to the Eurasian side, while high pressure owns the Canadian side, which will speed the Transpolar Drift and the exit of ice through Fram Strait. The open water northeast of Svalbard has closed up as the ice shifts, increasing the “extent” of the ice.

The isotherm maps now clearly shows the diurnal rise and fall of temperature, as noon swings around this map like the hand of a clock.

LOCAL VIEW   —A tale of two seasons—

A battle 171 satsfc (3)A battle 171 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

A battle 172 satsfc (3)A battle 172 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

Spring came in a little after noon, but the change in mood came around 8:30 AM, when the sun popped out after a gloomy dawn greeted all with a solid inch of heavy slush to plod through, remove from windshields, and shovel from walkways when you had to, though many opted to ignore it and hope it would melt away.

I couldn’t get around shoveling the walkway of the entrance and the steep part of the Childcare entrance, and the slop weighed a ton, putting me in a sour mood. As I drove the kids to kindergarten I saw faces through windshields of on coming caes, and everyone looked in the mood to bite the heads off nails. Then the sun poked through. The transformation on the faces in oncoming cars was amazing and instantaneous. Everyone was smiling, car after car. It would have been laughable, if it wasn’t also strangely touching.

MARCH 20   —DMI AFTERNOON MAPS—

DMI Mar 20B mslp_latest.bigDMI Mar 20B temp_latest.big (1)

The reinforcements have arrived, and rather than fading away “Morphy” has a second life. I likely should call it “Morphy2,” but can’t be bothered. It is created because the warm air drawn north from the Steppes is unusually warm, and lashing with polar air typically cold, so of course this brew up a storm.

“Marchair” is over Iceland, an actual Icelandic Low, which has been rare this past winter.

I am curious about the switch from Siberia being a land that generates cold, to Siberia being a land that generates heat. I think that is the only reason I’ll continue these posts, for March Madness has me in its sway. There are other things I am much more interested in.

UK MET MAPS

UK Met Mar 20 FSXX00T_00UK Met Mar 20B 13182445 CLICK MAPS TO ENLARGE

The kindly high has been defeated, and a final gasp is kind to France in the first map, and kind to Greece in the second, as the low “Marchair” triumphs over western Europe, though he is hanging back over Iceland. This is a fine example of a strong westerly flow becoming a strong southerly flow.

In the same manner I sense winds are changing in the USA. They are changing in a way making me profoundly uneasy.  They are political winds, and therefore the focus of this blog upon beautiful clouds and weather patterns may be forced back down to earth.

I hope I am wrong, which is unusual in a fellow who likes to forecast correctly.

LOCAL VIEW  —THE FRAUD OF WARMING—

A battle 173 satsfc (3)A battle 173 rad_ne_640x480 (1)

The maps show the low that passed north of us and its coastal sidekicj (which I dub “Springer and Springerson” ) now have me in a colder northwest flow. We got a bit of their warm sector today, which was lovely as temperatures were actually up to normal, and slush was thawing, but now snowflakes are whirling again around the streetlight  at the foot of the drive.  Worse, much colder air is coming south from Canada, and even though this air is way up in the top center of the above map, I expect it will give us a snow event as it plunges south.  That nest of lows out by Montana will scoot along the front trailing from Hudson Bay, and, because they will kill the spring, I’ll dub them “Sprinkle.”

I’ll try to keep up my posts about local events, however this blog is likely to see a change, due to a government map which just came out which states the past winter, which I have attempted to portray in colorful detail on this site, was a near-normal-winter.

This makes it apparent to me my government is deranged.  Who in their right mind could call the past winter, “near normal?”  If you who visit this blog have been watching with any sort of care, you know this is a hard winter. For crying out loud!  The ice on my farm pond is not melting away atthe advent of spring; it is between two and three feet thick!

It is quite obvious the government doesn’t care a hoot about me or my “colorful details.”   If they did, they couldn’t make such ignorant proclamations,   The fact they ignore all evidence in favor of some unspoken agenda is causing me to face issues much less lovely than “colorful details.”

I hope you will forgive me if this blog becomes less colorful, because the thing I seem to see staring me in the face is written in black and white.

Hopefully this is only a case of March Madness, but I do feel like I’m stepping ahead into a taxing time.

END OF POST  — this series of posts will be continued at: https://sunriseswansong.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/arctic-sea-ice-maximum-a-taxing-time/

4 thoughts on “ARCTIC SEA ICE MAXIMUM —MARCH MADNESS—

  1. Hi Caleb .Plenty to digest here..On the GFS initial run precipitable water chart are those isobars SLP?I noticed I missed some of your posts on the Great Lakes.looks like we may hit 92% tonight probably last chance as we expect to go up to zero this weekend. Take care. David

    • Yes, the isobars are for sea-level pressure. However the thing that makes brain-cells ache is that so much of Greenland is the icecap, and a large part of that is above 2000 meters. That not only makes sea-level pressure charts a bit unreal, it even makes 850 mb pressure charts unreal, for 850 mb charts show the pressure at roughly an altitude of 1500 meters, (5000 feet) Considering a large part of the Green icecap’s summit is over 3000 meters, you are getting up towards the levels of the 500 mb “upper air charts,” (which portray the pressures at 5500 meters, [18,000 feet]).

      In other words, they make some sort of calculation to show the pressures at higher altitudes be what they would be if they down at sea-level. But they are not. When winds go uphill they cool and dump a lot of snow on the rise, and a lot of latent energy is released and put into that air. If that air awiftly descends the released latent heat makes the air be warmer than it was before it rose, and you get the “Chinook effect.” However if that air dawdles over the icecap it is in a prime location to lose heat to outer space, and even though the air warms as it descends it is colder than it was when it started.

      I’ve watched gales crash into one side of Greenland, and seem to disappear, in terms of isobars, yet reappear (or perhaps reform) on the other side. It’s obvious all sorts of stuff is happening, but I don’t claim to comprehend what it is. I jokingly coined the word “morphistication” to describe what such lows do. (You see it in the USA when a low heading up the west side of the Appalachian mountains sort of fades away and a new “coastal” low forms on the east side of the mountains, yet those mountains are nowhere near as high as the Greenland icecap.)

      I’d like to study these processes more. I’d like it even more if someone else did the studying and just gave me the results.

      Joe Bastardi suggests the Great Lake’s ice, and the cold water left behind when the ice melts late (if it actually does melt late,) could lead to a lot of June frosts in Ontario and make growing things difficult. I hope not.

  2. Caleb: I’m not sure where you are located in NH, but based on your stated forecast, you will likely miss out on the last great blast of a memorable winter. Key the disappointment. The Conway region should receive 18-20″ with progressively less toward the border with MA. The forecast map most reminds me of a similar storm in March 1956 that buried southern New England and left the Boston area with the greatest March snowdepth (till that time) on record.
    Strangely my wife is astounded that I recall synoptic maps from the 1950s (and 60s and 70s) with ease, but struggle with what Netflix movie we watched last week.

    Quite frankly, the guys at WeatherBell deserve a gold medal for this winter forecast made in October, especially the recognition that the warm pool of water in the Northeast Pacific and the cool waters along the equator best matched the 1917-18 pattern and winter with the same western ridge/eastern trough pattern that produced this bitter and snowy winter. Their forecast is even more remarkable when you consider that the long range forecast from NOAA was for equal chances of a slightly warmer/colder winter in the nation’s heartland. Rather useless for planning purposes.

    • We’ll see. The rain-snow line is incredibly hard to forecast, and I’m amazed they do as well as they do. However I’ve seen plenty of badly blown forecasts, which were blown because they thought the temperature would be a half degree higher than it was. In one case I saw 2-inches-changing-to-rain be adjusted to 4-inches-changing-to-rain to 8-inches-changing-to-rain to 14-inches-changing-to-rain and finally to 18-inches-ending-as-rain. On that occation the precipitation fell harder than expected, and dragged cold air down from aloft.

      Other times cold air sneaks “under the radar,” and exist where computer models don’t see it.

      Yes, I think Bastardi and D’Aleo did a superb job of spotting the “drivers” that would control the course of last winter. I myself had a “hunch,” mostly because the winds were not zonal around the Pole during the summer, and seemed to push down into Canada more. Then the snow fell early in Siberia and the snow-cover there was creating “Siberian cold”, (which is legendary), ahead of normal. However I didn’t foresee the warm flow up into Europe.

      We are forecast to get 2-5 inches of snow from this March 12-13 storm, but I think we’ll get more. The computers have failed to predict the press of the cold a lot this winter, so I’m guessing this one will also be dented south. However there’s some real heat involved. Up around 70 in New Jersey but only 34 here in southern New Hampshire.

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