What happened this winter
For snow lovers, the winter of 2013-14 was an old fashioned winter. All months (December-March) were below normal in temperature.
The average temperature for January was the coldest monthly average we’ve seen in Syracuse in the past decade (19.9°). March 2014 was the 4th coldest March in Syracuse since 1902.
The cold will long be remembered as the biggest play in the winter. I think not only the degree of cold, but the persistence of it, with nary a break from the arctic surges. It just dragged on.
As for snowfall, Syracuse ended up slightly above normal, with 132” of snow as of April 22. Lake effect snow was very productive north of Syracuse, with parts of the Tug Hill Plateau receiving over 300” of snow this past winter.
The image below shows the surface temperature anomaly for winter 2013-2014.
Two things should stand out. Of course the blue, which represents the reservoir of cold air across the eastern US.
Also, you can’t help but notice the yellow/warmer temperatures indicated from Alaska, eastward across the north pole into Europe.
The cold had to go somewhere, and the pool of unusually cold air found itself into the Great Lakes and upper Midwestern United States
Of course, this anomalous temperature pattern was driven by the jet stream. For the winter of 2013-2014, the jet stream anomalies looked like this:
Two things that stand out include the area of purple stretching from Canada east-northeastward through the North Atlantic.
This represents below normal jet stream heights. In other words, a persistent trough in the jet stream indicative of a semi permanent pocket of cold air.
The yellows/oranges off the west coast of Canada, through Alaska, eastward into the northern sections of Europe represents an area of higher than normal jet stream heights.
You can think of the jet stream layer being higher up in this area. It’s the reason for the warmer than normal wintertime temperatures in those areas.
It is this block in the atmosphere, which shunted the arctic airmasses southward through eastern Canada, and parts of the eastern US.
This is where I will begin the summer outlook.
Looking toward the summer
This block is not going to go away overnight. It’s not like a switch will be flipped. We’re dealing with it now in late April and early May.
I believe this block will lead to a slow start to summer. I feel that average temperatures through June and July will be below normal.
Some moderation in temperature is possible to where we should have above normal temperatures in August.
The one player that Dave Eichorn and I have discussed is the possible development of El Nino in the tropical Pacific Ocean.
There are present indications that an El Nino is starting to form.
NOAA puts the odds at greater than 50% that an El Nino will develop during the second half of this year.
If the El Nino develops, the atmosphere must adjust to shifting oceanic heat, and we believe this may help the high latitude block in the jet stream to break up.
This is why we’re leaning toward normal to even slightly above normal temperatures for August.
Given what we saw over the past winter, and the current cool and damp Spring, throw in the possibility of an El Nino developing during the next few months…here is my Summer Outlook.
For those of you wondering about 90 degree days, I’m thinking we’ll end up below the average number of 8.
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