Is There a Light at the End of This Frigid Tunnel

Is There a Light at the End of This Frigid Tunnel (Or Just the Headlight Of Another Siberian Express Coming)?

Written by: William R. Deedler, Weather Historian NWS White Lake
January 25th 2009

 

As most well know, this winter has been almost persistently cold and snowy across the Great Lakes and Southeast Lower Michigan. The only real thaw came between Christmas and New Years and since winter started earlier this year, it appears that will be our “January” thaw (came earlier too).

Thus far in January, there have been only a couple of days that the temperature rose above freezing and then bang, right back in the deep freeze! January, by nature, is not the most pleasant of months around these parts as it generally contains the coldest weather of the winter (by evidence of the normals , both monthly and daily). Just check out the average temperature thus far the first three weeks of the month (through the 24th) at all three stations. Below that, is the snowfall for January and the season with their respective departures. What’s really a bit scary is how much we are ahead of last winter’s snow totals (bottom of table) at this time. Detroit is close to 20” higher, Flint is close to 10” better and Saginaw is better than 20” over last year as of the 24th. And last year both seasonally and annually (more in annual write-ups due out soon) was very snowy.

 

 

                                                             Note where the biggest below normal departures are in January thus far (second map).

 

 
 

Analogue Data including the rest of the Winter into Early Spring

As mentioned in my earlier write up, our analogue winters chosen for this Winter Outlook have been very helpful and performed well. Just looking at the past temperature trends for December and January in the analogues was an excellent predictor this winter. Note the temperatures highlighted in blue averaged below the numerical normal number for December and January. Chances of one or both months being below normal were pretty substantial. There were only three Decembers and three Januarys out of 11 each that averaged above the numerical normal number.  The second chart shows seven of the eleven entire analogue winters averaged below normal (note just Detroit is displayed but all were similar)

DETROIT T E  
 A SEASON DEC JAN  
N 1876-77 17.8 19.2  
A 1887-88 23.9 23.0  
L 1894-95 32.4 20.0  
O 1904-05 25.8 17.9  
G 1939-40 33.5 19.0  
U 1951-52 28.4 29.3  
E 1956-57 34.9 21.1  
  1976-77 21.5 12.8  
N 1985-86 22.2 23.9  
E 1989-90 18.0 33.6  
U 2000-01 19.3 26.2  
T
Ave
25.2
22.4
 
R

NORM 30Y

29.6
24.5
 
A
Dep
-4.4
-2.1
 
L
 
25.2
22.4
 
DETROIT
T
E
M
P
S
 
SEASON
DEC
JAN
FEB
WNT AVE
WINTER
WINTERS
1876-77
17.8
19.2
33.6
23.5
1
 
1887-88
23.9
23.0
28.2
25.0
2
 
1894-95
32.4
20.0
17.9
23.4
3
 
1904-05
25.8
17.9
17.9
20.5
4
 
1939-40
33.5
19.0
26.7
26.4
1
 
1951-52
28.4
29.3
29.3
29.0
1
 
1956-57
34.9
21.1
30.6
28.9
2
2
1976-77
21.5
12.8
25.2
19.8
5
 
1985-86
22.2
23.9
24.6
23.6
6
 
1989-90
18.0
33.6
30.7
27.4
2
2
2000-01
19.3
26.2
29.7
25.1
7
7
Ave
25.2
22.4
26.8
24.8
 
 

NORM 30Y

29.6
24.5
27.2
27.1
 100YR -
26.7
Dep
-4.4
-2.1
-0.4
-2.3
 
-1.9

 

Looking ahead to February (above) shows more mixed temperature data with just as many warmer or mild Februaries as cold (as well as a few around normal). This is encouraging for the likelihood of milder (or more typical) weather in February relative to the winter thus far and if we are lucky, possibly above normal ;-).

 
 
Winter Outlook Update
Temperatures

There really will be only minor tweaks (as we say) in the original outlook. A temperature range was used for the winter outlook when combining the local analogue study of below normal temperatures with National Outlook (above normal temperatures). Therefore, a median of around normal was settled on (give or take 1.5 degrees of normal /or -1.5 to +1.5/) in the original outlook. The lower side of the projection has strongly out performed this winter thus far and has held us in good sted…therefore look for the winter average to come in two to four degrees below normal for all of Southeast Lower Michigan. 

Snowfall

In the Original Outlook, an active winter was once again projected with above normal snows expected from the Ann arbor area to Detroit northward across the remainder of Southeast Lower Michigan. South of that line, closer to normal snow was expected due to more mixed precipitation. Since it has been stormy but colder, mostly snow has been seen by one and all with the most to the north. However, above normal amounts of snow are now expected over all of Southeast Lower Michigan.

 Late Winter-Early Spring

A glance into spring for temperatures/snow is quite mixed but there is a colder than normal trend seen early spring (what else is new) with better chances of warmer conditions later. Snow averaged about normal when lumped together. It must be remembered these are not the Spring analogues that will be used, they are just a continuation of weak La Nina-Neutral conditions set up for the winter months and not a resurgence of la Nina.

March
April
 26.0
45.4
28.6
43.2
28.5
48.7
37.5
44.4
28.7
42.8
34.3
49.6
36.9
49.1
41.5
52.4
38.4
51.0
39.5
49.0
44.0
48.0
34.9
48.1
36.9
47.6
-2.0
0.5
 
March
April
13.2
0.1
0.2
0.3
9.3
3.4
7.0
T
3.9
2.8
12.3
0.7
7.4
1.3
7.8
2.0
5.4
0.9
7.7
1.4
7.0
1.7
-0.7
-0.3

 

 



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