Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Current Water Temperatures Support Southeast Ridge Next Winter

Current sea surface temperature anomalies are supportive of the dreaded Southeast Ridge making an appearance next winter.

The image above shows sea surface temperature anomalies from July 11, 2014 to July 18 2014, projected across North America. In this image, we want to focus on the anomalies around the Southeast United States and up through the East Coast.

We see a general presence of slightly to well above normal sea surface temperature anomalies when examining the waters to the west and east of Florida. In those regions, we can observe widespread anomalies over one degree K above normal. Looking up along the East Coast, we see these warmer than normal anomalies still present, though not as intense as those near Florida and the Bahamas.

While this feature may not be as significant when compared to those features in the Pacific, it does hold substantial weight when analyzing the expected climate of the United States this winter. Depending on a multitude of conditions in the atmosphere, there is the potential for a semi-permanent ridge of high pressure to form in the Southeastern United States during the cold season. The durability and strength of this ridge varies on a case-by-case basis, but its presence can never be overlooked when it appears. The ridge allows the storm track to be deflected northward, sometimes bringing winter storms into the Plains if the ridge is strong, and other times into the Midwest and Ohio Valley if the ridge is weaker. What is clear, however, is that this phenomenon spells bad news for winter weather fans residing along the East Coast. This ridge almost always delivers warm, quiet, snow-less weather to those in the East. Unfortunately, if the latter description sounds like you, the chances of these conditions arising this winter have been raised.

The winter weather fans in the East Coast may not want to hear this news, but those in the Plains and Midwest should thoroughly enjoy this latest news, even if it may just be a flash in the pan. We'll have to see how the El Nino situation evolves this fall, hence the flash in the pan reference.