Wednesday, September 17, 2014

New LRC Winter Pattern Projected To Be Snowy

Long range climate models are in agreement that the month of October may feature above-normal precipitation in the North and East US, which could play into a very snowy pattern later on in the winter LRC cycles.

What we'll do first is analyze four precipitation forecasts, each one slightly different from the other based on their initialization and model foundations, from the CFS model. Shown above is the first member of the CFS suite, showing precipitation accumulated over the next 45 days. The end of this forecast period puts us at the very end of October, on Halloween night.

In this forecast, we see a swath of substantial precipitation values extending from the Plains into the Upper Midwest, giving the Great Lakes some of those wet conditions as well. A very dry forecast is noted in the southern Midwest, Ohio Valley, and into the Gulf Coast. We then see somewhat-dry conditions into the Mid-Atlantic, with wet conditions again present in the Northeast.

The next 45-day precipitation forecast from the CFS ensemble members shows a pretty similar story across the board as the first forecast image. In this new projection, we see what appears to be a swath of wetter-than-normal conditions extending from the Southern Plains and into the Midwest, once again hitting the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes the hardest. In a twist, we now see the Eastern Seaboard receiving similarly-heavy precipitation totals, quite a difference from the first ensemble member. Overall, once again, it appears a wet end to September and most of October would be expected for the Upper Midwest.

This third ensemble member from the CFS once again retains a similar projection as the first two members for the next 45 days, but differs in the East. For the Central US, heavy precipitation values are displaced across most of the Midwest and west-central Great Lakes, extending back into the Plains. In this forecast, the Mid-Atlantic is dry, in a similarity to the first ensemble member. The Northeast then appears very wet, all in all looking like a combination of the dry scenario from the first member and wet scenario from the second member.

This fourth member I specifically saved for last, since it appears to be most radical with its forecast in the Midwest (that should be taken as a caveat as well). In this final forecast member, we see very heavy precipitation values over the month of October and late September in the entire Midwest and most of the Great Lakes, stretching down south into the Plains, and even hitting the Ohio Valley in the process. The Eastern Seaboard is forecasted to be predominantly dry, save for the New England region. This could mean that the wet-East projection from the second member we analyzed may be a false forecast, but that's not something we'll investigate right now.

So, why should we care what these four members say about precipitation in the next month and a half?

Because we could be staring right at our winter precipitation pattern.

Something I've discussed on here more than a few times is the concept of the Lezak Recurring Cycle, or LRC. The LRC was developed by meteorologist Gary Lezak, and discusses the idea that weather patterns which develop in October leave a 'footprint' of sorts that is repeated in a regular interval, between 40-60 days through the winter and following spring. In other words, the weather patterns that develop in October repeat themselves for the better chunk of the next year.

So, if we take the four members above to be true (which is NOT something I'd advise to do; I'm showing them in collaboration with additional forecasts below), the Upper Midwest, Midwest, Great Lakes, Plains, and other parts of the East could be in for a very snowy winter.

In the image above, we see an average of precipitation anomalies over the month of October, compiled from eight global forecasting models. In this graphic, we see a familiar trend. The Plains are projected to receive above normal precipitation, leading directly into the Midwest and Great Lakes, as well as the New England area. Does this look familiar? Because it's nearly identical to some of the projections we were viewing earlier in this post.

Based on the average of these eight global model projections, as well as the four CFS ensemble members we dissected earlier, it's safe to say the current trend favors a very wet October for the Midwest (particularly the Upper Midwest), portions of the Great Lakes, Plains, and Northeast. If these projections end up verifying (again, there are many long range caveats associated with this), then the aforementioned areas may want to prepare for a pretty snowy winter, so long as the LRC cooperates.

Since we don't have as many projections for temperature as we do for precipitation, I won't discuss temperature projections for the LRC in-depth right now. However, based on the average of the eight climate models, October could be a warm month, which might then transfer over into a warm winter. I personally don't agree with the diagnosis for now, but the possibility will be re-examined later on this fall.