It doesn’t seem all that long ago that the sun was still high enough to make Siberia warmer than the Arctic Ocean. Those days are done, and now Siberia is a monster, a sort of dragon with a breath of ice rather than fire. It is a huge expanse of snow, bigger than the lower 48 of the USA, and a large amount of Siberia’s north is above the arctic circle.
Between now and early February the parts north of the Arctic Circle experience no sunshine, right down to the circle on the Solstice, and even south of the circle the sun is so low at noon it has nearly no warming effect, unless a slope faces south. It is a situation where the land is constantly losing heat to outer space. With no warmth coming from the sun, all warmth must be imported. If warmth isn’t imported, temperatures fall continuously, reaching the coldest levels seen north of Antarctica. -40 is quite common, and -70 is reached most winters.
Snow-cover greatly increases the ability of this landscape to get cold. This year it was established early, and although it has melted back in the very west of Russia, to the east it has increased south of Russia’s borders.
At this point the constantly building cold over Siberia becomes a sort of pulsating, undulating amoeba, a blob throwing out huge globules of deadly chill. It pays to keep an eye on this monster, to see where it is aiming its empty-eyed gaze.
Here is the current cold, from the GFS initial run. (These maps can be clicked or opened to a new tab for better clarity and enlargement.)
Storms running along the southern boundary of the monster attempt to punch warmth north, as huge storms in the North Pacific sometimes drive milder air up through Bering Strait and attack the northeast. This pressure doesn’t much bother the monster, who merely retracts north and exhales cold over the “warm” ice of the Arctic Sea. Also the blob-monster can simply undulate west. Look at the map 30 hours from now.
When the blob-monster bulges west, Europe gets nervous. 60 hours from now a sort of counter attack from the west tries to halt the westward expansion.
When the blob-monster is halted, attacked from the west and punched in the gut from the south, he just smiles an icy smile and gets colder. The pink area in the above map in central Siberia shows temperatures dropping below minus 40 (which is a great temperature, as it is the same in Fahrenheit and Celsius).
The final map is 90 hours from now (after which the GFS model has been no good, lately.)
This map shows a victory for Europe, as it shoves the blob-monster east. However the victory is selfish, and shows they don’t think much of the USA, as a lot of cold pours north over the Pole. However look to the upper left. Some of the cold is curling around the top to the west, and is thinking of sneaking down on Europe from the north.
Various analog years show a pattern where Europe holds winter off for a while, but later in the winter the blob-monster comes oozing west on cruel east winds. I’m wondering if its first attack might be one of these sneak attacks, curling around from the north.