It has been quite an active winter so far across North America. In particular, the southern and eastern U.S. have been hit the hardest with numerous rounds of heavy rain and snow. If you are familiar with a typical El Nino winter, then this may not come as a big surprise.
Just to review . . . El Nino winters occur when the waters in the equatorial Pacific warm to a higher temperature than normal. The result is a slight shift in the overall weather patterns which determine the position of the northern and southern jet streams, and consequently where winter storms end up developing and ultimately moving. There have been a few winter storms that have impacted the upper Midwest, but I would say that most of those situations have been marginal compared to the monstrous storms the southern and eastern U.S. have seen thus far. Here is a typical sequence for the development and movement of several winter storms this winter:
The setup for these storms is perfect! Perhaps, ‘ideal’ would be a better word to describe the situation created when an area of low pressure slides through the Gulf coast region, ingests that rich Gulf moisture, and then rolls up the eastern seaboard dumping that moisture in the form of heavy rain, snow, and ice. As I mentioned, we have seen our share of wintry systems here in the upper Midwest, but the numbers don’t lie. I would dare to say that we have had it easy compared to many other U.S. cities since early December. Here is just one comparison:
Those numbers were through February 10. Overall, I haven’t heard too many complaints other than the normal inquiry of “when is spring coming?”. I will admit that lately (since the holidays ended!) I have been longing for those milder days of April . . . the time when we can once again open windows and let in the fresh aroma of blossoming flowers, growing grass, and a gentle warm breeze in the evening. Alas, we are still five weeks – and perhaps a few winter storms – away from experiencing that, but be thankful that the winter hasn’t been more brutal than it certainly could’ve been. In the meantime, enjoy the sunshine and seasonable weather in the coming days, and a happy Valentine’s Day to everyone!
Chief Meteorologist Doug Michaels
Posted under Hometown Weather
This post was written by dmichaels on February 11, 2010