January-Like Cold Targets U.S.
The calendar may read March, but Jan-like lows are set to dominate a large portion of the U.S. this week. AccuWeather forecasters say temperatures will plunge to levels more typical of mid-winter than meteorological spring.
Central and Western states copped a taste of what’s to come as accumulating snow hit areas from the Plains to the Great Lakes region Sunday and Monday. Next up is a full-blown invasion of polar cold, one eyeing the majority of the United States. Arctic air is forecast to settle into the northern Plains midweek sinking temperatures some 20F below the seasonal average by Thursday afternoon. A high of 19F is forecast Thursday in Minneapolis, where the normal high is 37F; while in Fargo, North Dakota, the daily max will struggle to 14F, where the norm is 33F. Temps have averaged well-below average in these cities so far in March — after the first six days of the month, Fargo was running 3.7F below normal.
This Arctic outbreak will be a shock to the system for most, particularly those regions coming off the back of anomalous warmth — Sioux Falls and Rapid City, South Dakota, for example, touched 20F above normal at the start of March, but temperatures are forecast to swing 20 degrees below normal by Thursday (see GSM and the Swing Between Extremes):
A storm is expected to ride along the southern extent of the cold front, spreading substantial snowfall from the Rockies into the Midwest. The highest totals are likely to occur across elevated regions of the Rockies, as you would expect; however, inches will extend across South Dakota and Nebraska into Iowa, southern Minnesota, Wisconsin, and elsewhere into Thursday, making for potential treacherous travel conditions:
Even colder conditions are forecast Friday and into the weekend, aided by the settled snow.
“Clearing skies will likely accompany the cold air moving in from Canada, further dropping temperatures on Thursday night. By Friday morning, some locales across the North Central states could be flirting with record low temperatures,” said AccuWeather Meteorologist Brandon Buckingham.
Temperatures Friday morning will be in the single digits for many regions; others, including Fargo, ND, will likely dip below zero; while across the northern High Plains, as well as just east of the front range, readings of as lows as -10F will hit — temperatures more typical of January.
“By early Saturday morning, freezing temperatures can reach northwest Texas, including Dallas,” said AccuWeather Lead Long-Range Meteorologist Paul Pastelok. Some cities like Amarillo, Texas, and Oklahoma City could dip down into the teens late in the week — wintry conditions the meteorologist says is caused by 1) the jet stream diving southward, and 2) a second storm system bringing snow to the eastern U.S. which, in turn, will assist in transporting the cold farther south and east.
It’s already been anomalously chilly in Texas this week. So cold in fact that several IndyCar drivers had to cancel test runs at Texas Motor Speedway on Monday, for safety reasons. Temperatures were in the 30s Monday morning, making the track too dangerous for laps. There is an ambient temperature formula that decides whether IndyCar tracks are safe to run. The combined reading of the air and track surface must total 100F, but it was 40F at noon Monday and is expected to be even colder Tuesday.
“I was a little shocked to see flurries this morning in Texas,” said driver Scott Dixon.
New Study Questions Explanation For Feb 2021’s Record Freeze
A new study challenges a commonly accepted explanation that a sudden stratospheric warming event (SSW) caused the exceptionally cold weather over the U.S. early last year–a view which was widely reported in the media and discussed among scientists at the time.
Instead, new research finds that the sudden warming high above the Arctic in early 2021 –and the accompanying disruption of the polar vortex– did not significantly impact the brutal cold snap that gripped Texas that followed. For the study, published last week in the journal Nature Communications, a team of scientists led by the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) used an Earth system model to analyze the SSW event that occurred on Feb 8, 2021 and its potential impacts. Using a new method to assess causality, they found that while the subsequent weather did indeed match the expected pattern, the sudden stratospheric warming itself was not the likely cause.
“The mechanisms for how these layers of the atmosphere interact are probably more nuanced than we’re giving them credit for, and that’s important for making better forecast models,” said NCAR scientist Nicholas Davis, who led the study.
During the Northern Hemisphere winter, when the North Pole tilts away from the Sun and remains shrouded in darkness, a mass of cold air forms in the stratosphere above the pole. This frigid air is locked into place by a jet stream called the stratospheric polar vortex. Occasionally, this vortex is disrupted by planetary-scale waves which propagate upward from the troposphere. When these planetary-scale waves break, they warm the vortex, which can weaken it and cause it to be displaced or split in two — an event known as a sudden stratospheric warming. And after a two-or-so week delay, this split can lead to Arctic air spilling out of the pole and into the likes of Siberia, Europe, and the U.S.. The polar vortex can also be impacted by events from above, by forcings like solar activity and cosmic radiation (e.g. cosmic rays), but such mechanisms are even less understood, and so are often completely excluded from the models.
For their new study, the researchers dug into the connections between the stratosphere and troposphere. To cut a long and rather tedious story as short as possible, after numerous model runs, with each giving different results, the scientists found that events in the stratosphere rarely had any impact on tropospheric weather (i.e. Arctic outbreaks). Instead, the initial state of the troposphere was the primary driver.
“I think everyone imagined that a pinball is shot up from the troposphere, hits the polar vortex, and breaks it apart,” said Davis. “And then another pinball shoots back down and changes the weather. But this study shows that it’s not so simple. I think it possible that the events in the troposphere and the stratosphere are feeding back on one another and reinforcing what’s happening.”
Scientists have long posited that a disturbed polar vortex can reflect planetary waves back down into the troposphere where they can intensify weather systems and create cold air outbreaks in the United States, but whether this mechanism is actually at work is now unclear. And specifically to the record-breaking cold that swept Texas and the central U.S. in mid-Feb 2021, this outbreak occurred six weeks after the SSW, meaning it was beyond the timeframe of predictability associated with that event. However, at just six weeks after, the vortex would not of yet fully recovered, it would of remained somewhat stretched, looped down over North America –a configuration often associated with cold air outbreaks in the U.S.– and so could of still played a role, only it wasn’t the dominant player that scientists/the MSM had previously concluded/reported. In conclusions, this new research suggests that the vortex stretching and wave reflection did not drive the cold air breakout of mid-Feb 2021, something else did (low solar activity weakening the jet stream?).
It stands that the same atmospheric elements that cause a sudden stratospheric warming event –and associated distortion in the polar vortex– may also be causing the tropospheric weather patterns, and that the SSW itself may be helping to sustain them over long periods. The only thing I can say with any certainty, however, is that these elements aren’t understood, and as is all too often the case when digging into a widely held scientific assumption, it turns out that its foundations are incredibly weak. Science does a very poor job at explaining our surroundings, but that’s not to say its endeavor is futile, far from it, it’s to say that we should treat its pronouncements less like the gospel and more with the original intent it had in mind: to deliver our best guess.
Ukraine Halts All Exports, Clears Farm Workers From Military Service
The Ukrainian government has banned the export of essential products and severely limited the export of grains, official documents have shown. This move comes as all Ukrainian exports, which mainly go through the country’s Black Sea ports, stopped due to the Russian invasion.
The measures restrict exports of essential goods such as buckwheat, rye, sugar, millet, oats, salt, live cattle, the meat of cattle, and other subproducts from cattle, as the country faces increased demand along with the possibility of lower supply amid the war. Along with that, the government has decided to put limits on grain exports, including wheat, corn, sunflower oil, poultry and eggs. As a result, this disruption has caused commodity markets to fire into record-breaking territory this week.
There are also reports that some cities within the Ukraine are already facing a humanitarian disaster as basic supplies are no longer available amid either occupation by the Russian army or active sieges and heavy fighting close by.
The Ukraine is known as the breadbasket of Europe. And with the conflict threatening to impact the country’s spring planting, which is now just around the corner, the government has imposed measures aimed at helping to manage planting and harvesting — it has been announced that key employees engaged in the agriculture sector will be excused from military operations: “In order to timely conduct a complex of spring-summer fieldwork, agricultural enterprises and food producers must submit lists of critical workers to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy who will be granted a deferment from military service during mobilization and wartime,” the official notice showed.
That’s one hurdle crossed, now Eastern Europe just needs the weather to hold:
The COLD TIMES are returning, the mid-latitudes are REFREEZING in line with historically low solar activity, cloud-nucleating Cosmic Rays, and a meridional jet stream flow (among many other forcings, including the impending release of the Beaufort Gyre).
Prepare accordingly — learn the facts, relocate if need be and grow your own.
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