Long Range Winter Forecast Update

Time for an update! Neoweather is looking at long range forecasts for winter 2020 again. They expected (and we received) a warmer than average December. That one’s in the books. What about January? Early on, most of the models agreed that it would be colder than average. So far, that hasn’t been the case… but wait for it. A pattern change is expected for the last week of January and into February where it will be colder than average as expected.

Winter 2020 Long Range Forecast Update

As you know, January kicked off with some big time warmth across most of the country. After a very NOT white Christmas, those above average temperatures stuck around for the first couple weeks in January over most of the country.

Why? Earlier long range forecasts were based on a weak El Nino being watched in the South Pacific. That was expected to expand and cause ridging between warm water and northern cold water causing a Negative Eastern Pacific Oscillation (EPO). But that didn’t happen and the EPO staying in a positive state so far this month. The models show that it may dip down at the end of the month, but it may not go as low as it needs to go for big impact. We’ll have to wait and see on that one. If the EPO stays positive, it will create a lot of uncertainty in the forecast.

Will January See Lower Than Average Temps Like Expected?

Short answer. Yes. But be patient. We do expect to see slightly lower than average temperatures near the end of January. However, those temperatures may stay in the north and will not necessarily be widespread or sustained over long periods of time.

Around January 22, models suggest that there may be a pattern change that helps the cold air from Canada move further down into the U.S. A cold pressure system will cause ridging that pushes the warm air down.

1/22/20 Weather Pattern Change Map
1/22/20 Weather Pattern Change Map

Will the new cold weather pattern lock in?

Neoweather expects that the cold weather will lock in after 1/22/20 but it may not lock in for long. The MJO Index and other weather models seem to show ongoing instability in the temps as we go into February. Models have some similarities, like the western half of the country is expected to dish up up to 10 degrees below average temperatures overall. However, the Midwest and Northeast are more disputed. Some models show 0-2 degrees below average temperatures for February in the Midwest and Northeast. Others show 10-14 degrees below average in the same areas. To see numbers like that the pattern change would really have to lock itself in.

What about Precipitation?

February Long Range Precipitation Forecast Map
February Long Range Precipitation Forecast Map

Weather models indicate just slightly above average precipitation across most of the country with two exceptions: Drier than average in the Central U.S. and 2-5 inches above average precipitation in the Ark-La-Tex and Southeast (not including Florida which will be drier than average).

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