Ladies and gentlemen, we are now at the coldest time of the year (late January) climatology across the Western Carolinas. So far the month of January has delivered anything but normal weather to the region. The entire Southeast US is still running several degrees below average thanks to a major arctic cold wave that impacted the region during the first 10 or so days.
An outbreak strong enough to provide temperatures of 20+ degrees below normal for several days. Many parts of the coverage area experienced sustained low teens and single digits at night with just marginal warming during the daylight hours close to the freezing mark.
The region also experienced its second winter storm of the 2017-18 season, a snow event that dumped anywhere from 3-5 inches in our Western Counties to 5-8 inches in eastern sections of the Foothills Weather Network coverage area.
The good thing for right now is that we should experience a fairly tranquil weather pattern over the next seven days or so…a pattern with some chances at precipitation and close to normal temperatures…really what we should be seeing this time of the year but given what was experienced about three weeks ago, it seems quite mild.
The main culprit to this is a fast, zonal Jetstream that is dominating the weather across the country. Given that it is late January afterall, seasonal cold is expected but can be quickly moderated by an airmass from a warmer origin. The net result in all of this is a fairly normal temperature regime through the current forecast period, as you can see on the current 7-Day for each of our counties.
However do not get too used to the current weather pattern as we are seeing the foundation being laid for another pattern change back to colder than normal weather just in time to flip the calendar into the month of February. The flow over the Pacific will buckle once again as we get to the later part of next week and could dislodge very cold air that is currently bottled up in Canada.
The Pacific has been a major player in the weather pattern so far in the winter season, this will make the fourth time that a major ridge develops in the Eastern Pacific or along the Western North America coastline, of course that’s dependent on current model data verifying…right now there seems to be good agreement and no real reason to believe it won’t happen.
By Day 10 in the process, next weekend roughly a familiar ridge pattern begins to lock in with a closed ridge over Alaska that eventually transforms into entire West Coast ridging. That will help create potential cross-polar flow again and likely a sizeable trough across the Central and Eastern US.
If you go back and look at the winter so far, each spike in West Coast ridging has eventually led to either a winter storm or impressive/sustained cold weather. Given how the coldest air in the Northern Hemisphere is currently located in Northern North America, the odds are pretty solid that the Eastern and Southeastern US could see another round of sustained cold and storminess.
The current Day 10-15 temperatures just off the surface already show impressive cold pressing into the Northern tier of the US with the lower edge of the cold getting into the Southern Plains eastward into the Southeast…this is a pretty good signal for cold at this range.
It will be very interesting to see if we can get active weather to work in tandem with the cold. Of course, some weather sources are already trying to decipher and promote possible snow chances 1-2 weeks out, which is impossible to do.
The moral of the story with this update is to raise awareness that we are likely not done with dealing with either cold or winter precipitation this season. The first half of February is climatologically the best time of the year for the Southeast due to the jet being at its furthest south location (on average). Meanwhile enjoy the next several days as conditions will be about as close to normal that you can get for this time of the year…