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2011 Winter Not "Great, Yet!

Winter Lacks “Greatness”, So Far

It is with trepidation that I author tonight’s blog which challenges the “manhood” of this winter of 2011. You see to earn legendary status in my book, you have to go over and above the call of duty.

Take the Super Bowl this past weekend. Sure Aaron Rodgers had played in Pro-Bowls and thrown myriad TD passes. But until he torched the Steelers for 3 scores and won the big game, he was not entitled to claim “GREAT” QB status. Only in victory did Mr. Rodgers put to rest the ghost of Bret Favre.

(Editor’s note: not one of the sports journalists at the Super Bowl dared to mention Farve and how the Packers and Rodgers had finally exorcised the Favre demon).

The WEATHER analogy here is simple. You can have all the stats you want (30+ days with a dusting of snow, 35” of snow and counting this season, our second White Christmas of the 21st century), but to be remembered as a truly “great” winter 30 years from now (when we will be bouncing our grand/great-grand daughters on our laps), you have to do something extraordinary.

In a nutshell, this winter lacks a defining, memorable moment. No blizzards, no 20 below mornings, no Ohio and Kanawha Rivers freezing (Josh showed us a neat piece on First at Five today when in 1977 folks were walking across the river in Cincinnati). There has not been a crippling ice storm and not a scare as in the Rockefeller “false” blizzard of 1977. Nothing big this winter has happened, just a consistency of cold and snow. Boring, boring!

No, unless a big storm comes along in the next 7 weeks, this winter is doomed to go down as a “run-of-the mill” season of cold and snow.

But a look at this upper air pattern (20,000 foot chart) from Europe shows why there is still hope to earn greatness.

http://weather.unisys.com/gfsx/gfsx.php?inv=0&plot=500®ion=eu&t=10d

As you click on this wind map of Europe’s weather for late next week, you will notice three huge “bowling” balls or circles of intense weather, a triangle of storms to the meteorologist.

If you envision a baseball diamond, one ball of circular lines is at home plate (lower left) and two others are at first and third bases (upper right and left respectively).

Think of these circular blobs as areas of intense storminess. The home plate circle is located in North Africa and a sign of a likely rain and wet snowstorm for Mediterranean countries like Tunisia and Algeria.

The first base circle of lines that surrounds the yellow bull’s eye is sitting north of the Black Sea in Russia and will be responsible for heavy snows for 2 straight weeks in southern Russia.

The third web of lines is near Iceland and offers a huge tele-connection to our weather. While a potent North Atlantic storm will pound Iceland with winds and snows, the feedback into our climate will lead to a surge of spring-like air across much of the Eastern USA.

Now click on this second map and see how at the same time of the Europe-Africa map, this new chart across North America shows our area is far removed from the circular balls of storminess elsewhere in the hemisphere. In fact, if you can find our area on the map, you will see the lines form a kind of peak or ridge (versus a min or trough).

http://weather.unisys.com/gfsx/gfsx.php?inv=0&plot=500®ion=us&t=10d

This screams for our first prolonged mild spell since Thanksgiving. So the next 1-2 weeks beginning this weekend, should feature a long period of MAINLY benign winter weather.

Still, the number of bowling balls on the weather chart of Europe is a testimony to the active storm pattern in the northern hemisphere. And it is that hyper active Euro pattern that suggests the northern half of the world will continue to see big storms into March.

Like a huge slinky that circulates the hemisphere, when a wave is flicked into motion at point A in say Russia, it will incite a wave train in motion from Asia into North America. And that my friends leaves the door very much open to a Blockbuster late winter storm close by to our region. So if 2011 is to earn “GREAT WINTER” status, it will have to do it during March Madness.

Basketball anyone?

Special thanks to an anonymous reader for sending along the snowy winterscape shot pictured above.
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