Looking Toward February

Posted on: 11:01 am, January 23, 2013, by

January’s average temperature (highs & lows together) is running 3.6º F above the 30-year average. Muscle Shoals is 4.0º F above the 30-year average. That’s surprising when you think about the cold days we have had, but when you look at the numbers closely, it makes sense. The peaks and valleys of the recent temperature swings have proven one thing: it is rarely “normal” in January. Normal behavior for day-to-day and week-to-week weather is a back-and-forth struggle between warm air masses and cold air masses. Throw some rain or some snow in now and then, and that makes the numbers look even more strange. Such is life in the Tennessee Valley, The South, The Midwest, The Plains…really almost anywhere except the tropical and polar latitudes of the Earth!

Earlier this week, I wrote about January’s Ups and Downs, and there is more of that kind of roller coaster weather in our future.

Just today, we will likely see high temperatures warming into the upper 40s and lower 50s with a partly sunny sky; another cold front on Thursday will knock it back down into the 40s for the end of the week. It’ll stay chilly this weekend, then things really start to warm up for the final week of January. Temperatures will recover to the lower and middle 60s by Tuesday and Wednesday. Here’s the ensemble probability showing a good level of confidence that said warm-up is really coming!

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 10.40.23 AM

With that warm-up, some rain and even some thunderstorms are possible. The threat of severe weather is low here, but as always, this is an outlook that will need some fine-tuning. That is something we will watch; if it looks like a threat will arise, we’ll certainly let you know about it. If not, consider it a “no news is good news” deal.

One thing that doesn’t really stand out in the above chart is an indirect vision of another set of cold days in early February. Those probabilities of temperatures greater than 58º F are near zero from January 31st through the end of the period on February 8th.

The NAEFS Ensemble temperature projection is showing something similar on the North America temperature anomaly (difference from “normal”) map:

2013012300_054@007_E1_north@america_I_NAEFS@TEMPERATURE_anomaly@probability@combined@week2_198

The January cold was not quite as bad as advertised; part of that was due to the amount of rain and clouds we had while it was cold. An absence of clouds would have allowed overnight low temperatures to drop much farther than they really did.

In coming away from January’s forecast having over-done the cold expectations, the lessons learned can be applied to February’s pattern. While there is a chance it could get colder on any one specific day in early February, the message is that temperatures will generally be near or a little below normal on the whole through the first week of the month.

The confidence in another good cold snap in early February is pretty good right now; however, there is little confidence (or skill) in picking out any particular systems where snow would be more or less likely. The latest GFS run (12Z) is trying to be sneaky twice in the long-term period. This is a trend we are watching closely.

Screen Shot 2013-01-23 at 10.57.35 AM

The first impression is to say it probably will not be much of an event, but it’s got our interest piqued. We’ll keep tabs on it for you!

-Jason
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