Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Montana Dreaming...But Cold Stranglehold Eases Grip on Lafayette

This is a picture more you think would be from Wisconsin, Minnesota, or say Montana but this month the ice fishing has been terrific in the Lafayette area. Chief Videographer Tom Harmeson snapped this great shot while fishing up in Newton County and apparently the blue gill were biting just as much as the cold air. Remember for good and safe ice fishing you need at least four inches of transparent ice. Apparently we are up to eight inches of ice in the most popular spots and that is not surprising. You know we have been in a cold pattern when we have had snow flurries 14 of the past 15 days. On average in Lafayette we normally only have snow flurries fly nine days during the month of January and we have a good chunk of January still remaining. Compare and contrast our below average temperatures here at home with Billings, Montana. Where has our true January thaw been? Here is your answer.
January High Low   Departure from normal
5      35   20       +5
6 37 29 +10
7 48 30 +16
8 53 40 +24
9 39 22 +8
10 47 29 +15
11 49 30 +17
12 34 28 +8
13 52 29 +18
14 39 10 +2
15 45 11 +5
16 54 33 +20
17 58 37 +24
18 62 33 +24
19 58 35 +23
20 55 36 +22
Here in Lafayette during this same period we have had only 3 days break the freezing mark while Billings is going for its 17th straight above freezing. That is right they have been basking in the 50s and 60s with some record highs being shattered. Normally I tell folks to go to Florida this time of year, not Montana! This is unusual for Billings and they have actually been running 11 degrees above average. It is no coincidence our temperatures were about 11 degrees below average last week. Nature likes to keep a balance and if Billings is going to be this warm somebody has had to pay the piper and that of course is us! The amazing part is that we are not the only ones feeling the effects of the Montana heat wave. Temperatures over the Eastern two-thirds of the country are running way below average including Washington, D.C. Our very own Laura Kirtley was in Washington for the Obama inauguration taking her own weather observations for us here on the blog.

You can see Laura on the right with her with a friend and they apparently were out in the cold watching history being made for about six hours with temperatures hovering in the middle to upper 20s. She said that there were so many people on the Mall (estimated near 2 million) that they had no choice but to be all huddled together which kept most folks warm. Also, Laura had so much adrenaline from all the excitement and did not have to worry about the sub-zero weather like she experienced last week in the Midwest. This meant that she was anything but cold! Someday I can see her in Washington working as a correspondent or White House Press Secretary. She would be brilliant!

Here is another good shot Laura sent us showing how everybody was packed in like sardines. It was a day Laura will never forget nor will the Prangley family. My daughters excitedly talked all about how they watched the inauguration at school and of course I made sure my daughter Lauren and I watched it from home so I could remind her and her kids of this when she gets older. Lauren had Spaghetti Os and extra potato chips with Daddy while BJ had a few turkey scraps. She is only four so luckily I will not have to worry about this for quite some time. It was a big moment in history where folks will remember where they were or what they were doing when it happened. Since I was born in Washington, D.C. I was probably a little more emotional than most folks. History is huge in the nation's capital and I visited those hallowed grounds and monuments dozens of times and could really feel how important the moment was and what it meant to our great country.

While all this was going on my goosebumps got even bigger when looking at some Florida conditions yesterday. There were cold air stratocumulus clouds not far from Tampa that had the potential to produce snow. Although there were no official reports of snow reaching the ground I am convinced there was snow virga or snow that evaporated not far from the ground. This was made possible by those cold northwest winds playing havoc with our weather making it down to Flordida and going over the much warmer Gulf of Mexico. This can create what I like to call Gulf-effect snow. We see this same concept in Indiana, although with Lake Michigan as the warmer body of wate
r we call it lake-effect snow. Check out the satellite pictures showing all the cold air stratocumulus off the East Coast of the U.S. and Florida. It makes for quite a silhouette.
The good news is you will not have to go to Montana to find warmer weather because the blocking high pressure that has brought the warm pattern out West and the cold pattern stuck over us like a big glacier from the Midwest to the East Coast is finally showing signs of breaking down. Huge Pacific storms will be crashing into the ridge leading to its demise. You can see the parade of storms lining up.
This means things will be getting awfully interesting. Niccole was trying to keep me calm on the set last night. But when you go from a blocking pattern to a progressive pattern it is hard for most meteorologists to contain themselves. Since we will have more of a zonal flow or West to East movement across the country again we will no longer call for cold weather and flurries almost every day. Get ready for plenty of ups and downs and big temperature contrasts to set up from north to south. Now all we need is a lot of energy to work with and I see that with the current Pacific set-up. Look for the southern jet stream to help mix things up and create a clash between the cold weather across the northern tier and the warm, moist air to the south. This should bring not one but two big storms across the U.S. next week and I still think Lafayette has a decent shot of being hit with at least one of the two systems. We would have the potential of seeing one of those classic 4 to 6 inch snows with either one of the two systems. We could hit the jackpot or nature's powerball if the storm track sets up right. I will keep a close eye on it along with meteorologist Stefanie Davis. Our first shot of heavy snow would be on Monday into Tuesday and another one late week.

Check back to see how far below average we are on snowfall and the latest model runs in here on Wednesday confirming those interesting stormy days ahead. For now though we are enjoying a couple of nice quiet days with temperatures close to where they should be for this time of year. Thursday still looks like the warmest day of the week with highs in the middle 30s. Have a great day and enjoy those milder southwest winds! I am going to go make sure my big snow shovels are in working order.



12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the update. I am originally from Culver, and I love to watch the Black Horse Troop march in the parade in D.C. What a majestic sight!!

I have been telling my students about the high pressure ridge out west, and eventually it will break down and change our weather pattern. Actually, I am looking forward to a break in this cold weather pattern. I only hope, we do not see any more freezing drizzle/rain. I really can't ever remember a year where we received so much of this freezing precipitation.

F/C

Anonymous said...

When I was younger my dad taught me a saying "red sky at night sailors delite red sky at morn sailors take warn." Which he told me ment if there is a red sky at night it will be a good day tomorrow weather wise. And a bad weather day if the red is in the morn. Well when I dropped my daughters off at school this morning and the sky was red and according to the forcast it is going to be nice. I have not had this saying fail me in the past.. So Mike and fellow bloggers have you heard this and think it works or not??

Amy

Anonymous said...

i will take this cold and consistant weather, over ups and downs, freezing and thawing, and ice anyday.

Anonymous said...

i am a Navy veteran and having spent many days at sea the saying tends to hold true.

Anonymous said...

Red Sky At Night... The origin of the saying is unknown, although a form of it appears in the bible (Matthew 16:2-3). It has some basis in science and is a fairly good predictor of-though no guarantee-of weather at the mid latitudes in the Northern Hemisphere, where storm systems generally follow the jet stream from west to east. A red sky in the morning indicates a sun rising in clear eastern skies casting its rays on storm clouds approaching from the west. At night the clear sight of the red setting sun would tell a sailor that no storms are to the west

Anonymous said...

This morning, I told that saying to my class and explained it to them.

F/C

Anonymous said...

My dad use to tell us kids when we growing up about the tale, of red sky..... not to sure if it does hold true....

Anonymous said...

It looks today like the snow the first of next week will be on the lighter side.

Anonymous said...

No one knows....thanks to a major pattern change...the models are not forecasting beyond 3 or 4 days very well....or consistently. I wish Mike would update us as to his thoughts....

Chris in Tipton

Anonymous said...

Mike...are the models now suggesting lighter snow for Mondayish timeframe...the week outlook on the site says this

Anonymous said...

Once again to all, Mike was giving us a heads up of what could happen! Not an absalute forcate

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