A Little Snow, A Blast Of Cold?

***Watch WISN 12 News for the latest weather information!***

Thank you for stopping by the Weather Watch 12 blog!  We continue to track several chances for light snow in the upcoming days.  The bigger question is when will a chunk of arctic air push across the entire state of Wisconsin?  I think I have the answer to that, but let’s quickly touch on the light snow.

Round one of light snow will move in Thursday evening, and for the most part be gone as you step out the door Friday.  Snow totals will stay under 1″ for round one.  Make sure to watch WISN 12 News for updates on the quick moving systems as round 2 will move in Friday evening.  

In today’s blog I really want to focus on the arctic air lurking to our northwest, and when it may finally arrive in our area.  Let’s start with where some of the really cold air is currently located.  The surface map below is from 10:43am central time Thursday morning.

The map shows parts of North Dakota and Montana, then north into Canada.  If you notice some of the air temperatures over Alberta and Saskatchewan are in the -10 to -20 range.  Just click on the map to enlarge. 

This is a good indication that the frigid air isn’t too far away from the northern U.S.  Tracing the cold even farther west and nortwest I found temperatures in parts of eastern Alaska in the -25 to -35 range!  And the coldest location as of 11:17am central time was in the Yukon Territory at -49!  That -49 is on the map below.  That is brutally cold! 

While I’m not expecting temperatures like that in southeastern Wisconsin.  I think it is possible for sub-zero readings to visit our area, but when?

Let’s use some model data and the LRC to answer this question.  As discussed a few days ago I think a piece of cold air will move in this coming Sunday.  Right now highs would likely be around 20 in Milwaukee with colder readings inland.  This first small dose of cold air would modify a bit for Monday and parts of Tuesday.

However, as a storm system moves by on Tuesday, a chunk of the arctic air will drop southeast and should provide our area with the coldest temperatures so far this winter.

Some of the medium range model guidance that we use is also showing this.  Below is the 500mb(middle of the atmosphere)  forecast map for next Wednesday morning.  This shows a trough over the Great Lakes allowing the cold air to spill into southeastern Wisconsin.   

I think there is a good possibility, especially if our snow pack grows before this arrives that highs in the teens(single digits inland?) and lows near or below zero are possible for a day or two.  Now the question, how does this fit into the pattern?

Let’s use the LRC, a weather pattern theory we use in the blog to help in making long range forecasts.  The cycle duration for this year’s LRC has been around 46-52 days, with most features repeating right around 47-50 days.  Let’s look back 50 days to December 1.  This same feature dropped into the Great Lakes, resulting in a cold start to December.  At that time there was no snow on the ground in our area.

Since we are now into the 3rd cycle of this year’s LRC, we can also look even farther back and use maps from October.  Going back roughly 47 days from December 1 we see this feature again on October 14.  The trough pushes into the Great Lakes, and back in October it resulted in highs falling back into the 60s with lows in the 40s.  Much cooler than previous days.  

We have traced the upcoming arctic blast back two cycles in the LRC.  I am confident that the coldest air of the season will arrive this coming week, and our Arctic Air Watch continues through late next week!

If you don’t like cold weather there is some good news, looking ahead this shot of frigid weather should not last too long, and a January thaw may be on the horizon preceding our signature storm!

If you have questions on anything you saw in this blog or our current weather, just add your thoughts to the comments section of the blog.

Have a great day!

Jeremy Nelson


27 Responses

  1. Roughly when are you looking for the signature storm to arrive again. Around Jan 22nd?

    • Ron,

      The signature storm has occurred on October 26 and then December 11-12. With the pattern around 50 days now, I would say this should put it in right at the end of January.


  2. I’ve watched the models fail time and time again over the last six to eight months, so I’m glad there is actually a system out there that can give us a trustworthy forecast for not only the long term, but the 6-10 day range as well.

    Do you see this as a typical January arctic blast or is there potential for things to get really dangerous because the typically exaggerating folks at Accuweather are warning of Chicago possibly not getting highs to hit even zero for a couple days.

    • Daniel,

      I think we would need a much deeper snowpack to get the brutal cold with highs not reaching zero. This appears to be a quick, but frigid hit of cold for next week. The LRC certainly aides in making medium and long forecasts. It really is another tool that helps in determining if the models are believable or not.


  3. Jeremy,

    I have a friend who lives in Peace River, Alberta (four hours ish northwest of Edmonton) and she said this morning it was -30°F. Indeed your maps tell a tale of potential cold. As far a the 500mb plots… I am thankful for the look back into the previous cycles. Much of what I was attempting yesterday on my own and was unable to pin point. Indeed you are a quality LRC educator.

    • Josh,

      I always encourage anyone new to the LRC to follow along for a year. That way one gets to see the pattern from start to finish and some of the seasonal effects on the pattern. Good luck with your upcoming forecast!


      • Jeremy,

        Back in Nov when you put out your winter forecast I recall commenting about the number of chances for measurable precipitation in my backyard using the LRC during the Dec – Mar time frame. 36 was the number I came up with by taking a quick surface analysis of precipitation at my reporting station. Currently as of today, starting on Dec 1, I am at 17 days with measurable precipitation. That number looks to rise before the end of Jan, the half way point between Dec and Mar. With a hit/miss in Feb/Mar that number of 36 seems to right on. We will see.

        Obviously I am the only one that gets a kick out of creating a snowfall forecast for my backyard, but thanks, I appreciate the wish of luck. 🙂

      • Josh,

        I wish a few of these snows would amount to more:)


  4. Love the LRC Gary and Jeremy are to be commended for their work. The weather makes much more sense now, the just thinking it was some random pattern. Better hope the other meteorologists around town don’t pick up on it!

    • Bryan,

      If others in town or around the country want to learn more about the LRC we are willing to share. Hopefully someday the LRC will be put in the form of a model. Still lots to learn about the LRC. It does take some of the ‘guessing’ out of forecasting, or as some have called it we are ‘cheating’:)


  5. Hi, Jeremy!

    Regarding the LRC signature storm — sorry if I seem obsessed about that — but like some of the others who post with the WW12 team, the potential for big snows is exciting to me — and knowing far enough ahead helps me make some necessary back up plans for events at the church where I’m the pastor. Anyway, am I getting the right sense about the signature storm that the LRC can help you/us determine not only its’ re-ocurrence but also get a close time estmate as to when — but the LRC can’t really provide assurance as to where the storm will occur at its’ most powerful — {as in, “count on Reeseville getting a foot of snow”} — nor for that matter can LRC offer assurance as to exactly what kind of precip we will get — if any — as I noticed in a recent blog your comment that it should be preceded by a warm-up and then bring a mixed bag of precip.

    Am I anywhere close to having the right understanding? I want to learn all I can.

    Also, when would you expect to have a “handle” on what type of precip the signature storm will bring and where it will show up at its’ heaviest?

    Thanks for continuing to tutor me in this!!

    Don in Reeseville

    • Don,

      The last time the signature storm moved through it was a struggle to get a handle on the precip. type as the storm was upon us. That was a painful storm to watch playout because the rain/snow line only inched to the east.

      The LRC is used to look at the large scale pattern, then translate that to the surface where we live. By knowing where the long term longwaves are located, it can help in knowing well in advance where a storm should track.

      At this point I’m watching for the last day of the month or right around there as to when this cycles version of the storm returns. Don’t cancel any plans yet, but just have a mental note in your mind as the day approaches.

      Thanks for the comment and following the blog!


  6. Thanks for continuing to correspond with me!

    It takes a lot to cancel plans at our place — but it’s good to know if/when we may have to.

    Best advice RE: signature storm — and for that matter, with all weather events in the offing — stay tuned! Or, as Hercule Poirot always said in Agatha Christie’s novels — “I suspect everyone and yet I suspect no one.” Translation RE: winter weather/signature storm — “Expect everything {something?} and yet, expect nothing.” Right?

    Thanks again for being my weather buddy!

    Don in Reeseville

    • Don, My wife and I love us some Hercule Poirot! Nice reference!

  7. Jeremy,

    I have been stealing from your wealth of knowledge and understanding on the LRC. It has been a fantastic read and education. I appreciate the time and effort you put into your write-ups and posts.

    As my myself and a few of my other met friends have been learning more and more, we have developed an arguement as to whether or not next week’s storm (1/17-1/18) is our signature storm or not. My thoughts seem to be in line with your’s (for an end of the month signature storm), but I was just wondering if there is anything that we can use to compare next week’s storm to from Dec. and Oct. Or are there things that we can watch for to see if it does become our signature storm?

    Any assistance or direction pointing would be greatly appreciated. And in the same vein, I have been trying to get some new readers in here to see your great work!

    Thanks again. . .and keep up the fascinating work!


    Not a doubter, just trying to learn more . . .

    • The upcoming storm corresponds with the quarter inch of rain we got November 29. In fact, the QPF for this upcoming system is actually pretty close to that as of now.

      • That is what i have been thinking for the last week or so. However, it is also becoming more and more evident with current model runs! Thanks for the imput though Daniel!

        And I still agree that the signature storm is not until the 27th or 28th. And this there still looks to be a storm in this time frame in this mornings model runs.


      • The signature storm based on 50 days would not come back until around the last day of the month. The next 5-6 days should have some exciting weather around.


      • George & Daniel G… back in Dec I put together a little spreadsheet according to the 47 day cycle. What Daniel G says is true, this upcoming storm could very well correspond with the Nov 29 precip. The spreadsheet includes archived radar loops by clicking the linked precip value. It may or may not be useful to you guys but I’ll link it anyways.

        Fun stuff!


    • George,

      Feel free to share the LRC info with any and all weather enthusiasts! The signature storm in my opinion is not this upcoming 1/17-18. I still feel it should come back around the last day of January.

      The best way to follow along is to look at archived 500mb maps, and even past precipitation to a degree.

      How did you find our blog in Chicago? Thanks for reading and please continue to share this blog and the LRC with others!


      • Jeremy,

        Thank you for the response! Good ‘ol google sent me down a wild path that led me to this wonderful oasis of knowledge and views on our “fun”-ky upper midwest weather.

        I’m glad that you still agree that it looks like the end of the month for the sig storm. I have been penciling the 27th-28th timeframe since about the end of December. If nothing else, just to set some sort of bench mark to follow the pattern along and see what happens.

        I also noticed that the AO cycle has been set around 21 days this season. This particular reset just happens to fall on Feb. 1st.

        Thanks again, and as of the last Euro run, I think my fellow met buddies have gave up on the sig storm being next week.

        Keep up the great work!


      • George,

        Most of the features are repeating around 50 days…so that would put the signature storm more around January 31.


      • George – interesting thoughts about the AO. We recently [and continually] have been researching/watching this. Much like last year, the polar easterlies are reeking havoc on the Westerlies. Not so much to halt the pattern, rather it is playing with latitude much more than a normal AO mean. In reviewing the vertical cross slices and numerical graphing, we think it looked more like the AO was on about 27-33 days. Something definitely to keep an eye on. Recently, on the lrc weather facebook fanpage, we blogged on this and its impact to the LRC. We are due to give a Part 2 more specifically going into the impact the AO has on the LRC. Stay tuned!


  8. Jeremy,

    I see the NWS is now showing that we have the potential for 3-6 inches of snow on Monday into Monday night. What do you guys think? I am finding that you have been on the ball with the snow potential forcast so far this winter.


    • Jim,

      With this fast changing weather pattern I would say for something late Monday we would not start talking snow totals until this weekend. The latest NAM pushes the bulk of the snow north of our area on Monday. GFS last night was pretty bullish, but we’ll see if it backs off. I would think another wave should move through Tuesday into maybe Wednesday. We’ll keep an eye on that.


  9. Thanks for sharing Josh! Quite interesting and easy to follow! I shall bookmark and keep my eye on it!

    Thanks again


  10. Scott,

    Look forward to reading about that! Would you still have the AO cycle starting around October 5th then? Or has that been altered as well? Thanks for the imput! And, as i mentioned, I look forward to reading more!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: