WARNING: “We are on the cusp or teetering towards a troposphere-stratosphere-troposphere coupling event that includes both a strong stratospheric polar vortex and a positive Arctic oscillation.”
This on Monday from Dr. Judah Cohen.
Cohen is an atmospheric scientist who spends his time looking not for specters from space but at the movements of the air high above the earth in an effort to forecast the coming winter weather for a company called Atmospheric and Environmental Research (AER).
And what he is and has been warning about with all this atmospheric mumbo-jumbo is a possible replay of the winter of 2011/2012 though he is careful to couch his observations with the note that although “comparisons with 2020 keep popping up, not least of which is that it preceded a La Niña winter….the winter 2011/12 was highly unusual and a repeat should not be expected.”
Anchorage residents can only hope the planet doesn’t hit the repeat button. Highly unusual would be something of an understatement for 2011/2012.
Those who were resident in the state’s largest city at the time remember winter snows of near biblical proportions,– a cold, white version of the Great Flood before which “the Lord said to Noah….I will cause it to rain on the earth forty days and forty nights, and I will destroy from the face of the earth all living things that I have made.”
Only the Great Snowpocalypse went on for a lot more than 40 days and 40 nights, and Anchorage residents were given no warning.
The winter started off normal enough with significant but by no means startling amounts of moisture in November (sound familiar to this week?), and then it began snowing and snowing and snowing.
By the time the snow finally stopped falling in April, a record 134.5 inches – or more than 11 feet – had fallen.
Suffice to say, there was a lot of snow. Plow companies ran out of places to store it. Some roofs caved in under the weight of it. Homeowners exhausted themselves shoveling it.
“Nevertheless it has been a boom season for snow removal contractors and auto body repair shops. Skiers enjoyed a season of plenty when it wasn’t windy, rainy or locked in a deep freeze of sub-zero temperatures.”
Strangely, he added, a considerable portion of the “season’s snow fell during cold stretches. As a rule of thumb, warm air – when the temperature near the ground is in the 20s to lower 30s – is more conducive to snowfall than chillier temperatures.”
That rule remained true in 2011/2012, but way more snow than normal came down on days with a mean temperature below 10 degrees. The amount was near twice as much as the record 16.5 inches of cold snow that fell in 1954-55.
Cohen’s prediction for midmonth this year calls for temperatures to cool, and “colder temperatures are predicted to support new snowfall across Alaska, much of Canada.”
Enjoy this warm spell while it lasts and go buy a snow shovel, or maybe a snowblower. Or not.
As Cohen readily admits, “there are no givens in weather forecasting.”
Still he adds, “the possibility of strong polar vortez/positive Arctic Oscillation seems increasingly likely, and it would likely last through much of December and possibly even into January.”
That usually portends mild weather for the U.S. East Coast and the opposite for Alaska where 2011/12 had resident joking about the coming of a new Ice Age.