Long-Term U.S. Winter Forecast on Track: Rainy NW, Mild-ish NE, Tepid South

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ImpactWeather updates its 30-day outlooks by the 15th of each month. As that was yesterday, YourWeatherBlog asked ImpactWeather’s long-range meteorologist Fred Schmude for his thoughts.

The latest long-range data favors a continued elevated (more northerly) flow pattern as we move into February. Additionally, the faster flow pattern will not be on the same scale as compared to December and early January, though it should remain above normal — meaning the main flow pattern will be from the Pacific rather than from Canada with a lack of any feature that would drive the cold air significantly southward. Therefore, though the risk of a severe freeze along the Gulf Coast remains quite low, a large part of Canada will likely remain below normal for most of the month and only a brief buckle in the storm track could bring a significantly colder air mass southward.  Another factor that does not favor a severe Gulf Coast freeze is the lack of snow cover over the majority of the U.S.  A cold air mass moving across snow and/or ice will retain more of its coldest air for a longer period of time, whereas the same air mass moving across bare earth will lose more of its cold properties more quickly.

ImpactWeather's February temperature outlook. Click for larger image. Image: ImpactWeather

For the later part of January through February, the main areas of unsettled and potentially stormy weather will be across the Pacific NW due to the same elevated polar storm track over that region. From Arkansas to Ohio, where the collision of Gulf and Canadian air should be most prominent, enhanced rain and/or snow will result. Note that soil moisture remains well above normal over this region and this will again be a prime spot for spring flooding, especially if snow totals start to increase over the Ohio Valley.  It’s doubtful we’ll see anything like last year, but additional flooding over the Ohio and Mid-Mississippi River Basin is certainly possible.

ImpactWeather's February precipitation outlook. Click for larger image. Image: ImpactWeather

A weaker-than-normal storm track will result in a higher frequency of dry and tranquil weather, especially for southern states. This is typical, by the way, of a La Niña pattern which remains in place in a weak-to-moderate condition. Wind and sea conditions will remain below seasonal norms.  Additionally, we may see more of an enhanced low pressure trough developing over West Texas later in February which could result in stronger onshore breezes along the northwest Gulf/Texas Coast, as well as relatively warm Texas and Gulf Coast air being pushed farther north than usual.

As mentioned above, the main hazard for the month will be a risk of a strong Arctic front and northerly gales yet the chance of this remains quite low.

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