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Mark Clifford

Winter 2018/19 Early Thoughts

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There's been quite a lotta chat on social media about winter already mentioning the QBO, Solar Minimum, El Nino’ in the Pacific and Sea Surface Temperatures (SST) in the Atlantic. Most, if not all look like they are going to contribute to favourable conditions. Of course it is far too early to be confident about anything and signals could, and probably will change between now and then. 

So, what are YOUR thoughts for Winter 2018/19? ⛄ ❄️ 🌨️

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3 hours ago, Joel Smith said:

Cold is pretty much guaranteed, right? 🤔

Well, colder than Summer alright 😂

There is a lot of conflict and interest in Winter 2018-19 to be had. One thing so far that decreases our chances of a cold Winter is the Atlantic sea surface temperature profile.

First, let's look at the current state of the north Atlantic. This is the latest global sea surface temperature anomaly from NOAA for 16 August 2018. I have divided the North Atlantic into three because this is how we see if the profile is favourable to negative NAO which is the key to cold and snow in our country - though there can be cold and snowy months with positive NAO such as January 1984 but those kind of months are few and far between. The North Atlantic is in a positive NAO state with bands of cold-warm-average. In May, this was cold generally though warm over to the eastern seaboard of America and the cold anomalies were in the shape of a horseshoe which led to the hot Summer as it promoted blocking over Scandinavia and from the Azores to us, 1976 featured a very similar profile. This is a clear sign of cold AMO. However, since May, the tropical Atlantic has warmed up significantly but still only average by this stage of August and the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season is just around the corner - usually mid September - so expect some hurricanes to form if the Atlantic continues to warm up and vertical wind shear dies down. If an El Nino does take off, do not expect this to happen as vertical wind shear continues to increase with El Nino which in turn leads to a decrease in hurricanes.

An active Atlantic hurricane season is one of the things we look at for Winter as it dumps a lot of warm water in the North Atlantic Ocean which can then be advected into the North Pole and promote northern blocking. 2010 was an active hurricane season. 1995 was an active hurricane season. 1887 was an active hurricane season. These are three examples of years that had active hurricane seasons and were followed by cold winters. However, it's not impossible to receive a cold Winter with an inactive hurricane season, 2009 was such an example and was followed of course by 2009-10. 2009-10 was an a moderate El Nino Modoki and as a result had increased vertical wind shear which led to the inactive hurricane season but as it was El Nino Modoki, we had a cold Winter. El Nino Modoki is very good for cold Winters in the UK and Ireland! The El Nino which is forecast by the models and agencies this year is a modoki and I expect it to be a modoki but there is uncertainty on if it will reach El Nino threshold which is 0.5c or more above average. 1990-91 was an El Nino Modoki but did not reach the threshold though it was a cold Winter with a notable cold and snowy spell in early February 1991. Anyway, I'm going off on a bit of a tangent, thought you'd might like that extra info with this post.

Another thing I'd like to point out is the Norwegian Sea - notice the significantly warmer than average SSTs there. Very similar to last year! Now look at the 500mb height anomaly reanalysis for 2017-18, there was plenty of northern blocking there which we theorised last year there to be as a result of the state of the Norwegian Sea, similar to come this year?
 

7hM5Tbh.gif

zd9xONC.png

The SST profile in the Atlantic we want to see is one like this from 14 December 2009, bands of warm-cold-warm. What is the least favourable for a negative NAO in our current SST profile is the cold anomalies to the south of Greenland, we would want to see them disappear by Winter time and not to mention, the warm anomalies off the coast of America. They are two problems with the current state of the North Atlantic which are not favourable for negative NAO especially with a more powerful Polar Vortex as Winter gives. Things can change like they have since May as the Atlantic is more favourable now than it was in May but it's getting kind of late especially as it takes quite a bit of time for the temperatures in the North Atlantic to change unlike say the Irish Sea or the North Sea. Nevertheless, in spite of 1976 being similar to 2018 in terms of the Atlantic SST profile, 1976-77 was a cold Winter with a cold December and January but mild February. 

The NAO forecast from May was for positive NAO in Winter 2018-19 using the UK Met Office's methodology but don't think this is the be all because the Atlantic was in a positive NAO state in May 2009 which led to the UKMO forecasting a mild Winter for 2009-10 - see SST chart below for May 21st 2009.

ydxZV6m.gif

The Atlantic SST profile was in a big mess in May 2009. It didn't know what it wanted to do.

xoPoCM4.gif

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As I said in my winter forecast back in July, likely to be colder than summer. 🙂 

On a serious note, I think it all will depend on the Modoki El Nino that is currently 'expected to form'. I'd expect an uptick in tropical cyclone activity by the end of 1st week of September which will be mainly due to the repositioning of the Azores high more North allowing pressure to rise; and at that time, it is forecast that there will be more rising motion and lowering of pressure across Western North Atlantic basin which should allow a breeding ground for more tropical cyclones. If these form then more heat will be transported in the upper latitudes allowing more of a blocking in winter months.

I'd expect quite a few surprises this winter, especially some that we may not expect.. signs for a potential cold winter are there, but it's only a ''WILL IT HAPPEN?''.

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Early signs look good, but then... They have done in the past. Hoping for a front loaded winter :)

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yep this is my winter checklist like i posted on twitter

My winter checklist: -Frosty nights ( atleast 50-60 )

 -Decent covering atleast 5 times

- Stratospheric warming - 960 MB or below depression

- Windstorm

- A BFTE

- Colder than average temps

- My twitter exploding

Retweet if yours is similar Like if it's different !

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12 minutes ago, KushPatel said:

yep this is my winter checklist like i posted on twitter

My winter checklist: -Frosty nights ( atleast 50-60 )

 -Decent covering atleast 5 times

- Stratospheric warming - 960 MB or below depression

- Windstorm

- A BFTE

- Colder than average temps

- My twitter exploding

Retweet if yours is similar Like if it's different !

Don't get excited about getting your Twitter exploding. That's already happened!

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Express back at it again. 🧐

Not expecting a significant impacts from this so called 'El Nino' which to Express seems very extraordinary - at least on the title.

DlJi6DRXgAAwTnD.jpg

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29 minutes ago, Jakemj84 said:

Early signs look good, but then... They have done in the past. Hoping for a front loaded winter 🙂

I'd like a full Winter 😂

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Woah! There's been a surge of people signing up tonight 🎉 

My winter checklist would be: 

- Frosty nights
- Stratospheric warming
- Thundersnow
- Blizzards
- Beast From The East 
- Colder than average temperatures
- Snow squalls (possible in the UK?) 
- Lake effect snow 

Ok, some of them might be unrealistic 😆

 

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1 minute ago, Joel Smith said:

Woah! There's been a surge of people signing up tonight 🎉 

My winter checklist would be: 

- Frosty nights
- Stratospheric warming
- Thundersnow
- Blizzards
- Beast From The East 
- Colder than average temperatures
- Snow squalls (possible in the UK?) 
- Lake effect snow 

Ok, some of them might be unrealistic 😆

 

I'm just kind of hoping for Thundersnow during Lake Effect Snow.

 

Which will probably never happen since I'm in Kent.

Nothing happens here. There's like a shield 🤣

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My desired winter checklist: 

  • A stream of North Sea snow showers
  • Sudden Stratospheric Warming
  • Thundersnow
  • Beast From The East
  • A couple of sub-zero day-time maximum temperatures
  • A storm producing widespread snowfall at some point during winter - without dislodging the cold air
  • Numerous blizzard-like conditions
  • A day off work...due to snow
  • A couple of night temperatures taking a dip below the -10C mark
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3 minutes ago, James Young said:

My desired winter checklist: 

  • A stream of North Sea snow showers
  • Sudden Stratospheric Warming
  • Thundersnow
  • Beast From The East
  • A couple of sub-zero day-time maximum temperatures
  • A storm producing widespread snowfall at some point during winter - without dislodging the cold air
  • Numerous blizzard-like conditions
  • A day off work...due to snow
  • A couple of night temperatures taking a dip below the -10C mark

That practically summaries everything I want. But, maybe not the sub-zero temperatures when it isn't snowing. Since, I don't really want a feeling of me getting frostbite slowly.

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5 minutes ago, hernebayphotos said:

That practically summaries everything I want. But, maybe not the sub-zero temperatures when it isn't snowing. Since, I don't really want a feeling of me getting frostbite slowly.

If it was like 2010 with light winds, it wouldn't feel too bad. That's one reason why 2010 was so enjoyable, the winds were light and calm which allowed for large cooling to occur overnight in clear skies over deep snow cover unlike 2018 which was disrupted by gusty easterly winds and a lot of cloud. However, 2018 felt colder due to windchill.

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1 minute ago, Sryan Bruen said:

If it was like 2010 with light winds, it wouldn't feel too bad. That's one reason why 2010 was so enjoyable, the winds were light and calm which allowed for large cooling to occur overnight in clear skies over deep snow cover unlike 2018 which was disrupted by gusty easterly winds and a lot of cloud.

Yeah. Even 3°C with heavy winds does my head in.

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