Weather Blog

Weather Blog

Date: 1/12/2015

Title: A Mid January Look at Sea Surface Temperatures

Keeping track and monitoring sea surface temperatures across the globe is very important in being able to forecast upcoming weather pattern changes and trends as there is a strong correlation to what happens with our weather and climate in relation to sea surface temperature patterns in the world’s oceans.

In regards to weather patterns across the United States, we are mostly concerned with sea surface temperatures in the Pacific and to some extent the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico (mainly in the summer season).
 
The Pacific Ocean is the largest body of water on Earth and the behavior of Pacific Ocean, its currents and water temperatures are critical in understanding the weather patterns and climate of the United States especially in fall, winter and early spring seasons.
 
Where the Pacific is warmer or colder and for how long makes a big impact on jet stream patterns and the distribution of precipitation across North America. The science of meteorology and climatology is just now beginning to pay more and more attention to the correlation of water temperatures in the oceans to weather patterns. The correlation between weather/climate and water temperatures was identified in the past but has always been playing second fiddle to complex weather forecasting models.
 
As long range computer models have hit a “brick wall” in regards to accurately predicting long range trends in the weather, more attention should be made to the oceans, their temperatures and their interactions with the weather and climate.
 
The graphic below illustrates the current state of water temperatures across the globe. To understand the graphic, any color that is white is considered to be a water temperature near normal, blue or green colder than normal and any yellow or orange/red color are temperatures that are above normal.

 

Of special interest is the area of orange/red that extends from the Gulf of Alaska and the North Pacific south along the west coast and to areas just north of the equator. As long as this warmer weather remains in place, the jet stream will remain in a position to favor more opportunities for the Arctic to send more cold surges our way this winter, not unlike what we observed last winter. Therefore, beef producers, especially from the Rockies and points east should expect at least one or more Arctic outbreaks this winter, especially at the end of January and into early February.
 
The warmer water temperatures observed along the east coast is also favorable to help funnel more cold air into the lower 48 states this winter.
 

 
 



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Sara Harris
Texas