Thaw Then The Cold...(1-11-13)

<B>(8:45 pm Friday January 11th)</B>We'll we will bask in mid April-like weather here in central New York there are still signs our weather will start to return to winter by the end of the upcoming week.
The weather has eased here in central New York over the past week.  We’ve had very little snow since the calendar switched from 2012 to 2013 and temperatures for the first third of January are running about 3 degrees above normal with even warmer weather in our immediate future.  More on that in a moment.

First, I do have to say it is a bit amazing that even though we are about 2 feet of snow ahead of last winter’s pace, we still haven’t had much winter. It really amounts to just 10 days or about a week and a half of time around the holidays.  Of course, during that time we ended up with about 32 inches of snow. When you consider that winter weather can sometimes get cranked up by mid November around here that means by mid next week we will have had just a week and a half of true winter weather out of a possible 8 weeks!

Now back to the warm weather for the weekend.  We’ve got 50s in the forecast for both Saturday and Sunday and it got me to thinking how frequently does that happen in Syracuse during January.  I looked all the way back to 1920 and of the 93 years in my sample 64 Januarys ended up with temperatures in the 50s at least once.  That’s about ⅔ of the sample and comes out to about two years with 50s for every 3 years.

Next, I tried to break down the number of days during January in the 50s by decade to see if there were any trends.  Since we are only 3 plus years in the decade of the 2010s, I only went through 2009. Here is the raw data that I found:

DecadeTotal Number of January 50 F+ Days

There is an upward trend in the number of total days since the 1980s but we have yet to reach or exceed the totals from the 1930s.

We won’t be talking about this January Thaw for too long, though.  A cold front will move through central New York later Sunday.  However, while this will bring an end to the 50s it really won’t usher in truly winter-like air.  Our temperatures are still likely to be at or above normal through the middle of the week.

In my blog earlier this week, I mentioned that the return to true winter would come in the Wednesday-Friday time frame.  We can now narrow that window down to Thursday or Thursday night.  Here is a map from the GFS for Thursday afternoon.  I’ve included my interpretation of where the arctic front should be.

The thing to keep in mind about the return to colder weather is it probably won’t come at us all at once.  It is likely going to tease us. It may take one or two cold fronts after Thursday’s to get into the core of the cold. The problem is we are trying to break down a ridge of high pressure off the Southeast coast.  That ridge is the reason we will be so warm this weekend. Once the ridge breaks down, the cold air will have an easier time moving and staying in the East.

What we would expect with this first shot of cold is a burst of snow when the front comes through later Thursday/Thursday night then a 12-18 hour window of lake effect flurries and squalls southeast of Lake Ontario before the winds go southwesterly pushing any lake effect well to the north. Since any bands of lake effect would be rather narrow it is pretty futile to get any more detailed than that this far out in time. We’ll have more details as we get closer. Until then, enjoy the January Thaw.

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