Weather Blog

Weather Blog

Date: 12/17/2012

Title: Weather Blog: Stormy weather for the holidays

There is good news and bad news across the lower 48 states for the last two weeks of December and into the first week of the New Year. Here’s the bad news first. Cold and stormy weather will move across most of the nation, causing airport delays, icy roads and travel headaches. What could possibly be good about cold and stormy weather? The answer is precipitation, badly needed precipitation for many dry areas of the central plains.

There will be two major storm systems affecting the nation between now and Christmas Day. The first system will move into the central Rockies on Wednesday bringing much colder temperatures and snow to places like Denver, North Platte and Omaha. The cold and snow will also spread into Iowa, portions of Minnesota, Wisconsin and Michigan by Thursday. This storm will become quite intense over the Great Lakes region by Thursday and Friday, whipping up the wind, bringing heavy lake effect snows and tapping into some very cold air out of Canada and driving it south into the Midwest.

The arid plains of eastern Colorado and northwestern Kansas as well as most of Nebraska will receive about 3 to 8 inches of new snow (0.25 to 0.50 water equivalent). Heavier snow amounts will be found across Iowa, southeastern Minnesota and Wisconsin as the storm heads east. Heavy snowfall will be likely as well over western and northern Michigan. In the warm sector of the storm expect 0.50 to 1.00 rainfall totals across the central and eastern Corn Belt.

As you can see below with the most recent US Drought Monitor, the precipitation is forecast to move right across some of the extreme drought areas of Colorado, Nebraska and Iowa.

The snow pack in Wyoming, Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico will benefit from this storm.

Stock growers in the above mentioned areas should be prepared for some harsh winter weather, snow, very cold temperatures and some sub zero wind chill values.

Unfortunately, most of eastern Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, eastern New Mexico and west Texas will miss out on most of the precipitation from this first storm. However, there is some hope for these areas with the next storm.

Storm number two will move into the west coast this weekend and into the central and southern Rockies by Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. This storm will be slower moving and may bring a more widespread pattern of precipitation to the plains as Gulf of Mexico moisture may be drawn northward ahead of the storm. This is something we have seen very little of during the Fall and early Winter season. The storm may also take a track very similar to the storm that will be moving through the country this week. This is some very cold air available across Canada that could be drawn into this system. It will likely be much colder across most of the nation between Christmas and the New Year.

The overall weather pattern across North America is changing and this will result in a higher frequency of winter weather over all the lower 48 for the next two to possibly three weeks. The jet stream pattern across the northern hemisphere that brought most of the nation a warm and dry November (exceptions, west coast and far northeast) has broken down. This will mean the country will have more access to cold air intrusions from Canada, Pacific storms and larger, slower moving storm systems for the rest of December and likely into early 2013. Therefore, despite the slow start to winter, expect Jack Frost to arrive soon and to stick around for awhile. It could get especially cold in the northern plains and northern Rockies.

The graphic below shows the forecasted temperature anomaly for the last two weeks of December. Notice the all the blue (below normal temperatures) descending south into the USA with most of the nation in below normal temperatures through New Year’s Day.

This weather blog is provided weekly through the National Cattlemen's Beef Association. The content and graphics are written and provided by DayWeather, Inc.


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Mark Spurgin
Nebraska Rancher