Photo Credit: Alistair Grant
I'm actually taking a class that discusses the current weather over the world once every week, so I thought I'd go ahead and post my notes on my blog! Of course, it will be more of a summary/story of my notes, because my notes are pretty boring. Three major events occurred over the past week.
First of all, there was a gigantic storm in Scotland over the past week. The picture above is one of the most incredible pictures I have ever seen. A wind turbine spun so fast from the howling winds that it caught fire. I've never seen anything like that. Winds gusted up to 165 miles per hour during this storm, and while that reading was most likely taken at an exposed coastal headland, it is nonetheless extraordinary.
Second, there was a HUGE heat wave over the upper Midwest! A large ridge of high pressure centerred itself over the Midwest during the middle of last week, pushing the arctic air that normally invades the region far north and allowing warmer, southerly winds to push into the area. Certain places got into the 70s!
Take a look at the model below... it shows the forecast as it was initialized on 00z Thursday, January 5th. A massive ridge
Valid 04:00 pm PST Wed, 04 Jan 2012 - GFS 500mb heights, SLP
Now, on to snow in Alaska!
The huge ridge that has dominated the Eastern Pacific for most of this winter has left us with fairly boring weather. However, there are still storms, and these storms have been directed northward into Alaska. One particular town named Cordova has seen over 10 feet of snow, with some people being snowed into their homes, unable to open their doors. The U.S. National Guard has been called to assist the town in recovering from the snowstorms. Mother Nature will help out too, and although there will be snow, it won't necessarily be directed into Alaska.
Remember how I blogged yesterday about inconsistencies in the models? While the models aren't in complete agreement yet, the cold models (Canadian and ECMWF) have become colder, and the warm, boring model (GFS) has become pretty chilly. As an added bonus, the Canadian is generally a better model than the GFS, and the ECMWF puts the GFS to shame.
Take a look at the current ECMWF model from 12z this morning!
Valid 04:00 am PST Sun, 15 Jan 2012 - GFS 500mb heights, SLP
See the huge ridge in the Eastern Pacific and a huge trough over us? That is a classic scenario for frigid air to invade our region. If this scenario came true, we'd see some very, very cold air with snow to boot.
King5 is already forecasting snow for the weekend. http://www.king5.com/news/local/Snow-at-sea-level-expected-this-weekend-137030773.html. Normally, I wouldn't jump on a snow scenario this quickly, but it is looking like we will get some snow over the weekend into early next week at this point.