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Happy New Year & Stratospheric Vortex Split Day!
Welcome to 2019 which comes with the same pattern we finished 2018 with. However we are seeing the major split in the polar vortex in the stratosphere (where planes fly) and this is going to lead to changes in the overall pattern over the next couple of weeks. Remember that pattern changes are grinding processes that take time to play out. They are not instantaneous changes in the overall weather pattern. In fact it should be noted that the warmer pattern we are in now planted the seeds of its own destruction. This is how weather patterns changes work. They do not last forever. They run their course and then they wane and weaken to be taken over by a new weather pattern.
Instead of 1 polar vortex over the North Pole keeping cold air locked up there, the vortex split will now create a pathway for colder air to move back into the Eastern US. This is going to be occurring in the stratosphere 7 miles up over the coming days. In fact it has already started there. It takes time for this to translate at the bottom of the atmosphere where we are. While the pattern change is going to happen what we don’t know yet is the specific impact. We don’t know exactly where all the highs and lows are going to be, where the troughs and ridges set up, and other factors that are in play. Those are short term issues to be dealt with when we get there.
The loop above is the GFS model at the jet stream level from January 11-17. Watch how the jet stream pattern changes across the US with a deep trough and vortex that forms in the East while a strong ridge develops in the west. We take these as model clues at this point. The GFS has been steadily moving in this direction the last few days with support from the European and Canadian models as well as the new GFS parallel model. Again what this doesn’t tell us is the specifics. How cold? We don’t know. How stormy? Again we don’t know. These are shorter term issues. For those of you with short memory spans this stratospheric vortex split happened last mid February which led to the chaos of March. Back in early January 2015 we had a similar occurrence. December into mid January was quiet and milder than average before we had a radical pattern shift. This led to 8 weeks of brutal cold from Late January 2015 through the end of March. Nothing happens exactly the same way but I suspect that they will have a thread of similarity through them. It is all part of the fun.
We strongly recommend you follow Dr Judah Cohen who has been monitoring the progress of the splitof the polar vortex in the stratosphere and what it all means.
MANY THANKS TO TROPICAL TIDBITS FOR THE USE OF MAPS
Please note that with regards to any tropical storms or hurricanes, should a storm be threatening, please consult your local National Weather Service office or your local government officials about what action you should be taking to protect life and property.