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Where is Winter?

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Figure 1 - Worst Case (Big Snow Storm!) Figure 1 - Worst Case (Big Snow Storm!)
Figure 2 - Whiff of Winter Figure 2 - Whiff of Winter
Arctic Oscillation Arctic Oscillation
Sea Surface Temperatures Neutral Sea Surface Temperatures Neutral
Slight Risk of Winter Weather Slight Risk of Winter Weather

Where in the world is our Oklahoma winter? Remember all those days with frigid cold, fierce northerly winds, snow, ice and slick roads? Well, at the moment, such times exist only in our past and certainly not in the next few days. However, could a winter storm be coming to our fair state by Sunday or Monday?

Our weather is affected, created and controlled by not only local conditions but possibly even by cosmic rays from deep space; energy from the Sun and the water temperatures of the various oceans to our west, south and north just to name a few teleconnections.

The jet stream (a core of the stronger winds in the upper level of the atmosphere) is created by a difference in temperature which causes a difference in pressure. The larger the differences in the atmospheric pressure between two points, the stronger the winds. The jet stream, and there is more than one, circles the hemisphere with speeds sometimes reaching over 200 mph. Storm systems on the surface of the earth are usually found near or just south of the upper atmosphere jet stream and are guided by those upper winds. So, in weather forecasting, the location and future positions of the jet stream are vital.

Now contrary to what many on air meteorologists and weather announcers say, models do not think, talk or decide to disagree or decide to agree with other models. Models are extremely complex math and physics equations that output weather data based on the input and which equations are used. Models should be used as forecast guidance, not as walking, talking and reasoning weather helping zombies.

Data does suggest that the polar jet stream may drive southeastward toward Oklahoma from the Arctic and Polar Regions bringing a risk of snow and bitter cold temperatures come Sunday and Monday (see figure 1). Well, at least that's what some data suggests. Other data would tend to support colder with a very slight chance of precipitation (see figure 2).

Based on the weather pattern so far this fall, a big winter storm for Oklahoma this weekend would represent a significant change in the total weather pattern, at least for a while. Such a change is entirely possible but as of yet the factors that have created our warm and dry conditions have not changed. The PDO-Pacific Decadal Oscillation; the lack of an El Nino or La Nina and a negative Arctic Oscillation have been fairly stable in their behavior. Interestingly, the present Arctic Oscillation would usually mean frequent and strong outbreaks of cold air. That has not happened yet for us.

So here is my approach to the situation: Turning colder Sunday/Monday with strong northerly winds and a slight chance of some snow in Oklahoma, mainly north. At this time, the main impact of this potential storm will be north of Oklahoma. Keep in mind, this forecast is subject to immediate recall without refund! -Gary England

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