Snow Totals and The Pattern Ahead

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Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 Blog!  Light snow swept through southeastern Wisconsin Monday evening into early Tuesday.  This snow was more of a ‘nuisance’ than anything.  Thank you to everyone who posted totals to our Facebook page at WeatherWatch 12!  Don’t forget you can always leave totals in the comments section of the blog too. 

Here is a look at totals around our area!

  • Burlington  2.9″
  • Brookfield  2.8″
  • New Berlin  2.0″
  • Franksville  2.0″
  • Glendale  2.0″
  • Fort Atkinson  1.9″
  • Racine  1.5″
  • Random Lake  1.0″
  • Milwaukee  1.0″
  • Slinger  1.0″
  • Sheboygan(Lakeshore) <1″


For the rest of Tuesday a few flurries or pockets of drizzle are possible as this weak storm departs.  The question now turns to what lies ahead moving into the Christmas holiday.

If you follow the blog you know that I use a weather pattern theory called the LRC, or Lezak’s Recurring Cycle.  This weather pattern theory states that once the weather pattern sets up in the Fall, it begins to cycle.  The pattern is unique each year, and once again the pattern is cycling!  This year’s cycle length is around 46-48 days.

Last week in the blog we took a look at the long range forecast thru the end of January, just scroll down a few blog entries and check it out!

One of the big stories around the country right now is the heavy rain and snow in the West.  The rain and snow in that part of the country will likely hang arond another day or two.  Below is the 500mb forecast map from the NAM computer model, just click to enlarge.  Keep in mind the 500mb level is the middle of the atmosphere.


Now let’s look back roughly 46 days to November 6.  Again an upper low is present near southern California.  Also present is a ridge in the Plains, and a trough in the East.  The main features in this cycling weather pattern line up very close to the forecast map above for December 22. 

Now a few people may be wondering about what the pattern looks like around Christmas.  When I did the long range forecast last week based on the LRC, I said that I do not expect a major storm for our area on the 24th or 25th.  That is something I still believe.  But could there be light snow?

Below is the 500mb forecast map from the NAM for December 24.  The main feature on this map to focus on is the small upper low over the Plains.  If we are going to see snow on Christmas Eve, this would be the feature that would produce it. 

If we look back 46 days to November 8, this feature tracked from southern California into the northern Plains.  The feature on the map below from November 8 I’m referring to is over the eastern Dakotas and western Minnesota.  The rest of the features are also present.  The trough in the West was farther east back in November due to the ridge being stronger in the Pacific.  Overall though this is another great example of this year’s cycling weather pattern. 

We’ll keep an eye on that chance of light snow around the 24th, but certainly the models are trending this lower each day.

As discussed in the long range foreast I issued last week, I’m still expecting a larger storm to take shape to close the month, and that will be followed by another blast of cold air!  If you love wintry weather, get ready for a pretty exciting January!

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


15 Responses

  1. Brookfield has 2.8″ of snow.

    • Chris,

      Thanks for the report!


  2. My daughter is coming in from Madison. She can either come today (Tues) or tomorrow (Wed). I see Madison has a snow emergency and parts of I-94 are slippery.

    Do you have any recommendation on whether travel from Madison to Milw is better today or tomorrow (times?). I’m worried about the drizzle.


    • George,

      Interstates should just be wet, now that the precip. is pretty much done and temperatures are around 32 the main roads look good. Wednesday could have some flurries around. I think either day should be fine traveling on the interstate between Madison and Milwaukee.


  3. Up here in northern Dodge County near Lomira we had barely an inch of snow. We didn’t have any of the freezing drizzle. Glad this was a minor weather event, we have enough snow.

    • Cliff,

      Glad to hear you are happy with the results of the mini-storm. Thanks for the report.


  4. Jeremy,

    Great lesson on the LRC today. I will admit, comparing the Nov 6 and Dec 22 500mb plots would have thrown me for a loop had you not described them as being similar. But analyzing things now, the north winds that will drop the temps tomorrow wraps my mind around the pattern once again. The low back on Nov 6 dug deeper into the southeast states…

    Measured 2.2″ up here in Oshkosh this morning for what it’s worth. I mention my totals on this blog only because Oshkosh is very close to the forecasting border between NWS offices. 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • Josh,

      The amazing thing is the upper low over southern California! As always, I encourage people to follow along for a year before making an opinion either way. Your snow totals are always welcomed!


      • I wasn’t doubting the LRC, just my ability to see the pattern correctly for those dates discussed.

        3.2″ the past two days at my location, but my Mother up in Suamico, WI (nw greenbay) got 8.3″ the past two days.

        Her website with webcam images for anyone interested.

      • Josh,

        I’m always looking at the pattern and trying to figure out where we are at. Keep in mind that a lot of what we are looking back to in late October or early November has only occurred 1 time so far in the pattern. Sometimes some things look like they line up, and then it turns out to be something else. When I first learned of the LRC we really didn’t have a good handle on the cycle duration until around or after Christmas. As each day passes and we get to look back at the previous parts of the pattern and learn more. I encourage you to keep looking back at past maps and then to our current weather. I try to do that everyday.


      • @Brian/Josh – The LRC is not easy to really see or use unless you live and breath it. You have to be looking at the data with a cycle in mind each day. It is not something that can be numerically run at this point, so for many the manual analysis is too time consuming to try to explain or use for many of the mainstream meteorologists.

        That said, where there is a signature storm, it looks so obvious. However, as regular as we would love the pattern and duration to be, there is variability. There is variability in the pattern itself and within the cycle. The cycle WILL NOT always be exact. This year has averaged near 47 days, but it will flex and shrink at times, which is why the day to day analysis is critical!

        It is a great tool but requires a great deal of time and analysis to stay on track. I myself have made the mistakes at times of letting it go for awhile and trying to catch up to find I missed something and was off track. More often than not, I have found the pattern/cycle is intact but my analysis gets skewed.

        It is a great theory and discovery, but it requires a lot of work to keep up with it. Ongoing as time permits, we will keep developing the backend where someday perhaps it could be modeled rather than map to map comparison. We have already experimented using numerical data and the results have been very promising, though extremely limited in scope.

        Just some food for thought…


  5. The LRC is the real deal folks. I’m suprised no one picked up on this pattern sooner then Gary did a few years back, a lot of smart people in the weather industry.

  6. Reeseville — Dodge County — received 1.8″ of snow. Spot on with your snowfall total forecast! Keep up the good work!


  7. LRC is the best system I’ve seen for predicting the potential for storm systems in the long term. Also, knowing about the existence of the “signature storm” really adds some anticipation down the road as to what will happen with it the next time through the cycle.

    However, I’ve followed this theory since early last winter and will never be convinced that it is useful in predicting temp profiles because I’ve seen way too much variation in cycle to cycle results. The position of the ever changing jet-stream, the on again / off again Greenland block, and the NAO oscillation index have complete influence over that.

    • Daniel – fair point, but I will just add some of my thoughts.

      Re: temps – For day to day temps, no it isn’t going to give you that, but for long range trends, it IS quite useful. The reason lies in the strength of the LRC in knowing where the long term long wave troughs/ridges are going to be. If you are forecasting long range in an area dominated by a particular feature, you will gain skill beyond climatology using the LRC for the long range. As the pattern flows, there will be some peaks and valleys, but over time it has been very useful.

      There is indeed variability from cycle to cycle, and seasonal climatology goes into the analysis, but so does other climate tools as you mention above such as the teleconnections etc. Knowing the LRC and using these other tools can help stem some of the variability in the model.

      Remind me sometime if time permits to share thoughts on the teleconnections. Often, I think they are misused or misunderstood in cause/effect analysis…but that is for another day.


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