Winter is pretty much over. That we can be certain of – even if we get a snowstorm. 

What climatologists and meteorologists (similar backgrounds but different areas of expertise) are focusing in on now is the reason for the past brutally cold and snowy winter in the East and the unrelenting warmth and drought in the West.

Many turn to the meanderings of the jet stream. With the Arctic Ocean warming at a faster and faster rate, sea ice is vanishing. And what used to be ice-covered and frozen is now open water much of the year, infusing the atmosphere with heat and perhaps altering the jet stream. A commonly held belief has been that this wildly out of phase jet stream pummels North America – and occasionally Europe – with cold, while allowing the Arctic and Alaska to have relatively mild winters. Essentially, exporting cold out of the Pole and sending it southbound. Seems like a plausible explanation. Heck, something’s going on, right?

Well, not everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid. 

Doubt has been cast on the “cold transport south” theory now as a series of reports against the argument hit weather/climate journals. The terminology in these reports is cautious. Words like “are” and “will” are being replace with “could” and “can”. Authors cite no clear consensus in the climate model forecasts that correlate wild jet stream behavior and bitterly cold winters in Eastern North America and Europe.

So you’re waiting for my take on it, right? Where does my allegiance lie? Who’s side do I take?

These are uncharted waters, so to speak. I don’t have an answer, nor do I take a side. What I do know (through simple observation) is that the jet stream has essentially been unchanged for about two years now. We’ve landed on the cold side with 1-3 month interludes of warmth. That’s a lot of cold on our side of the continent. And I don’t think it plops in our lap by itself. Something is driving it and perpetuating it. And that bodes well for one thing: seasonal forecasts. Once we get our hands around the source, 1-3 month forecasts will become more common and accurate – at least as accurate as they can be for seasonal forecasts. The implications of this are huge for commerce and industry. Weather forecasts have been the laughingstock of inaccuracy for as long as people have been forecasting, but with the advent of better long range forecasts, the laugh may be on the unprepared.

Forecast-wise, we’re facing a couple of mild days ahead. 50s tomorrow and around 60 on Friday. Sun is at a premium in the extended forecast, so soak in a few rays tomorrow afternoon. We’re in lock-down mode next week: clouds, showers, fog and drizzle. Pay it forward, folks. I’d rather have it now than in June.


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