Button Up Your Overcoat

The Weather Channel is predicting a colder than average winter for Texas and most of the Southern U.S.

For the first three months of 2016, WSI says the best chance of colder-than-normal temperatures lies in roughly the southern half of the Lower 48 states, from Southern California into the Southern Plains, Deep South, Florida and the Carolinas.

However, there’s a January catch.

“We expect a ‘tale of two months’, with a cold-West, warm-East first half of the month, followed by a reversal during the back half of the month towards potentially much colder eastern U.S. temperatures,” wrote Dr. Todd Crawford, WSI chief meteorologist, in their outlook released Friday.

Interestingly, one factor in this pattern reversal may have been brought about by an Icelandic storm that tugged above-freezing air to the North Pole between Christmas and New Year’s Eve. 

“The rapid and unexpected destruction of the tropospheric polar vortex, via the historically strong North Atlantic storm this week, has thrown a significant monkey wrench into the January forecast,” said Crawford.

Specifically, the more “blocked up” the upper-level flow is in the higher latitudes, the more likely cold air is going to be forced south into the U.S. The stronger and more persistent the blocking, the longer the cold air will stick around.

Crawford said whether the colder East pattern relents later in January is uncertain, as upper-atmospheric blocking, such as is forecast for mid-January, often lasts longer than numerical models suggest.

Red isn’t exactly sure what upper-atmospheric blocking entails, but it sounds bad and he is stocking up on fire wood.

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