November 4, 2019 : Long Range Outlook

The month of October split the country in half in terms of weather.  The northeast US was pretty close to historical averages, with a warm last week likely pushing temps just a bit above average.  While the western US was well below average, due to a persistent dip in the jet stream over the western US.

If you’ll recall during the month of October, there were record breaking snows in Montana and Idaho and the Dakotas, which makes these frigid temperatures much less surprising.  While here in the Hudson Valley, temperatures were pretty close to average.  We had some chilly starts, but our October was right about what we would expect.  The exception being the final days of October, and especially Halloween… where highs were in the low 70s (roughly 15 degrees above average).

So as we move into November, we’ve seen a drastic and sharp change to our weather pattern.  The 2 coldest mornings of the season so far occurred Friday and Saturday nights… sending temps near or below freezing across the entire region.  So with colder air injected into the valley… we decided to take a look at the upcoming pattern over the first half of November.

This is the current jet stream pattern over North America.  This type of jet stream in the middle of winter would be the harbinger of frigid temperatures… likely temperatures below zero.  This time of year, make no mistake, it’s got some cold air… plenty cold enough to support snow.  Locations centered under the deep blue and purple bulls eye, will be where the coldest air is located.  We’ve placed a purple and black star over the Hudson Valley for point of reference on this map.  As we start November, we’re seeing the cold air surge southward, from northern Canada, and it’s pushing into the northern half of the US.  Based on this trending push… here are the projected temperatures for the first week of November…

You can see we expect chilly conditions in the northeast and Hudson Valley… but nothing “brutally” cold.  Temperatures a couple degrees below average are expected through the first week.  With average high temperatures this time of year in the mid 50s… that means afternoon temps will struggle to climb out of the 40s in the afternoon.

But the truly cold air is building in Canada, and is poised to take aim on us.  Here is the projected jet stream as of Thursday…

An area of DEEP cold air is building in Canada, and pushing SE.  The huge ridge out west will allow for the Canadian cold to bowling ball its way into the eastern US.  At this same time, the SE ridge will be giving way to the bitter cold air.  A storm system is projected to form in the Midwest, and move eastward mid to late week.  Just how fast this cold air pushes south… will determine if the storm can make its way far enough north… to spread snow into the Northeast and Hudson Valley for Thursday or Friday.  We’ll talk more about that in a bit.

But in terms of temperatures… as this arctic air surges south… here are the projected temperatures for the 2nd week of November:

This is the 5 day period from Friday through Tuesday.  The average temperatures over that time… are projected to be 10° to 15° BELOW average!  That’s some wintry stuff.  Doing the math… those are afternoon high temperatures that do not get out of the 30s!  And overnight lows that could dip into the 10s and low 20s!  These conditions would be more typical of late December or early January!   So chop your firewood now…

As we reach mid November, you’ll notice that we don’t anticipate any major warm up coming our way… at least not based on the projected Jet Stream Pattern for mid month…

While the western ridge splits a bit, there is still tremendous blocking expected over Alaska.  That should continue to allow the cold air to push SE from northern Canada, and into the eastern US.  This type of pattern would continue to produce below average temperatures, and even potentials for winter storms to develop.  With regard to chances for snow… it’s certainly possible.  Timing is the key this time of year, and we need a storm to ride along the jet stream at just the right time, to combine with enough cold air.  The models have definitely shown that potential in the past few days…

European Model from Saturday Morning: Thursday Night – Friday

This setup appeared Saturday morning on the European model.  The cold arrives at just the right time, to allow the storm system to move into the Mid Atlantic and spread moisture into the cold air.  If this scenario were to unfold… 6 to 12 inches of snow could be the result in the Hudson Valley.  The timing looked to be Thursday afternoon into Friday morning.

However… like we mentioned, TIMING is the key.  Since that run of the computer model… data suggests the cold air will be more aggressive, and faster.  The end result is this…

European Model from Saturday Night: Thursday Night – Friday

The cold pushes south faster, and prevents the storm from moving as far north as the previous guidance suggested.  This would limit any major storm from developing, due to a flatter wave at the upper levels.  Light snow would be possible on the northern edge, but accumulations under 1 inch would be expected.  This scenario is a non-event for the Hudson Valley.  So in 1 run of the European model… we go from major winter storm, to non event.  Welcome to weather forecasting in the winter.

Beyond this Thursday night / Friday event… there will be more chances for snow.  The pattern just favors the potential to a large extent.  This pattern should hold with us for at least the first half of November… before things may begin to moderate.  But we’re going to kick this winter off early… whether it’s just cold temperatures… or if it includes snow.  We’ll have to wait and see.  One thing’s for sure… business is about to pick up at HVW.  We’ll be here to help guide you through all the twists and turns.  We appreciate your continued support, and can’t thank you enough!

Thursday Discussion : Window of Opportunity

Meteorologically… this Halloween is going to be a treat.  However, for the vast majority of people… it’s going to be a trick.  And whether it’s because of too much chocolate, or weather forecast related anxiety… by the time it’s all over Thursday night, we’ll all likely have a belly ache.

Halloween looks cloudy, warm and windy on the whole.  Throughout the day however, there will be scattered periods of rain showers.

Futurecast Radar: 1pm – 6pm

It appears there may be a period during the early afternoon where a batch of showers moves into the Hudson Valley… before exiting by late afternoon.  But the entire day for most people boils down to the periods from 5pm to 8pm.  So let’s talk about the “possible” window of opportunity.  We say “possible” because when dealing with high definition forecasts like this… where we’re looking at a 3 hour period of time, roughly 24 hours out… the level of difficulty of the forecast is raised.

Notice at 6pm, guidance is currently suggesting the Hudson Valley splits the gap between the steady rain showers we are likely to see during the early afternoon, and the heavy downpours associated with the arctic cold front to our west.  This is the ‘window of opportunity’ we’ve been talking about for 2 days… where trick or treating could be mainly dry… just warm and windy.  While we wouldn’t place any bets in Vegas on this… it does look like this could break just right for us.  Scattered showers will absolutely be possible, as you can see from the projected showers north of Kingston and Monticello.  But everything would be fast moving, and while the umbrella will certainly be needed in your evening inventory… many of us (especially those south of I-84) may not have to equip the umbrella.  Ultimately… we’ll see how it plays out.

But beyond the ‘Trick or Treat’ weather… this storm will be a meteorological treat.  A strong low pressure system will drag an arctic cold front through the region, and out ahead of it, temps will SURGE into the upper 60s and possibly low 70s.  Then the squall line pushes through around midnight, and the bottom falls out.

Futurecast Temperatures: 6pm Friday – 8am Saturday

Temps in the upper 60s… tumble into the upper 30s in just about 4 or 5 hours.  That’s a potential 30 degree drop, that will certainly grab everyone’s attention.  Driving the tumbling temperatures, will be powerful wind gusts.  At first out of the south, ahead of the front… but with the squall line, as the system really wraps up and intensifies… look at the gusts over 60mph projected into New England…

Futurecast Wind Gusts (mph) : 6pm Friday – 8am Saturday

We’ll have to keep our guard up for scattered power outages due to down trees and power lines.  Hopefully this squall line doesn’t see gusts intensify until it’s past our area, but damaging wind gusts will surely be a concern overnight.  Behind the front… the cold air is here to stay, with temps only climbing near 50° on Friday afternoon for a high.  The seasons are ‘a changin’.

Hope everyone has a great Halloween, no matter what your plans are… to go out and get candy with the kiddos… or to watch the wild weather unfold.  Either way… we’re glad you’re here with us!  Thank you for your continued support!

Tuesday Discussion : Halloween Not Looking Like a Treat

The next 48 hours look rather gray and uneventful around the Hudson Valley.  A light SE flow will give us a good deal of cloudiness for both Tuesday and Wednesday around the region.  Low clouds, patchy drizzle and even a stray shower can’t be ruled out Tuesday or Wednesday.  But on the whole… we should remain mostly dry… with temps holding in the 50s almost the entire 48 hour period.  Not what most consider “nice” weather… but with a building winter storm over the Midwest… not the worst weather either.

The big question at the moment is what will Thursday look like.  Halloween is looking rather spooky at the moment, with “trick or treat” possibly taking place on a ‘dark and stormy night’.  Thursday will be cloudy and mild, with an increasing chance of rain showers as the day progresses.

Early Futurecast Radar : 2am Thursday – 2am Friday

This is our general idea at the moment.  We think that rain is likely early on Thursday, as a batch of rain moves through with a warm front.  Then the bulk of the moisture likely moves north of the Hudson Valley, allowing us to dry out a bit for the afternoon on Halloween.  We can see a window where it’s warm and windy, with mainly cloudy skies… but dry.  Then Thursday night, after the trick or treating is over… an arctic cold front with heavy rain and thunderstorms pushes through.

The timing of this is critical… but the key takeaway is : Thursday looks stormy, with periods of rain… but we could see the potential for a dry window, where the rain tapers off… and ‘trick or treat’ is dry.  Make sure you check back with us over the next day or two.  We’re still almost 72 hours away as of the time of this post.  And with the details so critical, and little margin for error… you’ll definitely want to get better information if you’ve got plans for Thursday night.

Have a great Tuesday!

Sunday Soaker Sloshfest

Scattered showers around the Hudson Valley have dampened our Sunday morning, but the wall of yellow on radar just to our west, is heading this way. 

Between 10am and 1pm our scattered showers will become a steady (at times heavy) soaking rain.  Make sure you’re ready for that.

Beyond the wall of rain heading our way, the rain will taper to scattered showers between 1pm and 4pm from west to east… and should taper off completely by sunset.  Temps will rise toward 60 degrees for a high this afternoon.

Hope everyone stays dry during our Sunday Soaker.  Have a great day!

Weekend Outlook : Sunny Saturday… Soggy Sunday

Get ready everyone… because a typical autumn weekend across the Hudson Valley, will feature a variety of conditions for the region.

We’ll start off with partly cloudy conditions on Saturday, and seasonably cool temperatures.  Afternoon highs will struggle to hit 60° around the region, but all in all, it will be a rather nice fall day.  Great for some local trunk or treat events that may be going on, or possibly some apple picking.  Whatever you’ve got planned, the weather on Saturday should cooperate nicely.

But we’ve got a storm off to our southwest, and it will make it’s way into our region Saturday night… bringing us a very stormy Sunday.

Futurecast Radar : 8pm Saturday – 8pm Sunday

Scattered showers will become possible Saturday night, and be more and more numerous as dawn approaches on Sunday.  The first half of Sunday appears very rainy and windy.  Anyone with plans during the first half of Sunday will need the rain gear.  The rain should taper off during the afternoon, but possibly not until late.  So as nice of a fall day as Saturday appears to be, Sunday looks to remind us of the stormy potential October brings.

Looking beyond the weekend, we’re going to see a major pattern change in the United States.  It begins with some very cold and snowy conditions out west… which will generate a reflexive ridge in the eastern US.  While a SE flow may keep us from seeing gorgeous fall weather… temps will be warmer than average for much of next week.  It wouldn’t surprise us if we were able to hit 70° one day next week.  Halloween may see the arrival of some stormy weather, we’ll have to monitor the progress of the storm system.  But once we get into November… we anticipate the colder pattern to begin shifting its way into the eastern US.

So we’ll have plenty on our plate as we move into November, where we may actually begin to talk about the word “snow”.  Have a great start to your weekend!

HVW Preliminary Winter Outlook 2019-2020

Another summer is behind us, and the transition into autumn is upon us.  As the leaves begin to turn, many minds also begin to turn… to thoughts about what the coming winter season may hold.  Snow lovers begin to get excited, and winter haters begin to dread what lies ahead.  So as speculation begins to increase on the coming winter… that means it must be time for the 2019-2020 HVW Winter Outlook.  This year, we’re going to take a Preliminary look now, and follow up with a final update in late November.  This way we can discuss our ideas, and then update everyone on the trends, and if we need to make any changes to our preliminary ideas.  Will the coming winter be warm?… or bitter cold?  Will we see mountains of snow?… or will the winter be more wet than white?  These are some of the questions we’ll attempt to answer.  So enough small talk… let’s see what the coming winter might hold.

Winter Temperatures : Near Average to Slightly Below Average (-1.5° to +0.5°)

Temperatures this winter are likely to be near normal, to slightly below normal.  The range of -1.5° to +0.5° is due to the fact that we see some signals that could result in this winter being a chilly one.  The conditions heading into this winter are similar to the recent winters of 2014-2015, and last year 2018-2019.  Last winter was about 1.5° to 2.0° above average, while the 2014-2015 winter was about 3.5° below average.  So with both winters showing similarity to this coming winter, the tiny details will determine which previous winter our coming winter will look like.  The front half of the winter looks milder, with the back half of the winter looking more likely to be colder than average.

Snowfall : Near Average or Slightly Above Average (100% – 125% of Normal) 45″ to 55″

Snowfall for the coming season appears likely to be near average, to slightly above average.  The average snowfall in Poughkeepsie for the entire winter season is 43.7 inches.  We anticipate roughly 100% to 125% of normal snowfall totals in the Hudson Valley… that would translate into roughly 45″ to 55″ of snow in Poughkeepsie.  Seasonal snowfall is notoriously difficult to project, because along the east coast, nor’easters are wildcards that can drop 12″ or more in one shot.  The pattern that we expect to set up this winter should give us a few shots at nor’easter development.  If this season reaches its full potential, we wouldn’t be surprised to exceed the high end of our forecast range.  With that said, in general, we do believe that the storm tracks will be further east than last winter… leading to more snow events, and less wintry mix events than we saw last winter.  That should allow the seasonal snowfall totals to be higher than what we saw last winter, when Poughkeepsie saw 31.5″.

Methodology

(Disclaimer: This section may not be for everyone, it’s very heavy on the science behind the projection above.)
For anyone who may be new to HVW, we produce the Winter Outlook each year at this time.  Our goal is to provide a science based, long range projection of the coming winter season.  We combine our forecasting experience with computer data and historical trends, to produce the winter outlook each year.  Because there is computer data involved in creation of the outlook, it’s basically a ‘forecast based on a forecast’.  So if some of the assumptions we make to create the outlook turn out to be wrong… the winter outlook will be affected.  So lets take a look at how we arrived at the Winter Outlook.

Oceans absorb and store a tremendous amount of the earth’s heat, and that heat is transferred into the atmosphere.  Whether sea surface temperatures are influencing tropical storm development, helping to influence areas of high and low pressure, or whether an el nino or la nina are in place… oceans are one of the most (if not THE most) influential drivers of the weather pattern.  As such, how the ocean temperatures compare to average, are a fundamental key to deciphering what the coming winter may hold.  So, let’s see what our current SST (sea surface temperatures) look like…

The United States is in the upper middle of the global SST map.  The first thing that will jump out at you, is the bright red coloring in the Pacific Ocean.  That is indicative of well above average sea surface temperatures (SSTs).  We have highlighted 2 specific areas to focus on; (A) the Tropical Pacific, and (B) The Northeastern Pacific Ocean.

So now that we know the current conditions, let’s look at the projected conditions for the coming winter.  Below are the CFSv2 model, and the JAMSTEC model projections for Sea Surface Temperatures (SSTs) from December through February…

Now, comes the hard part.  We closely review the current conditions and the computer model projections for the winter.  Then we analyze ALL of the winters from 1950 to 2019.  Of those 70 winters, we identify those where conditions most closely resembled our current and projected conditions.  We combine them to create our “analog” winter… or the combination of years that most closely resemble the projected conditions for the coming winter.  Here is our analog for this winter…

 

When you compare our analog to the CFSv2 and JAMSTEC model projections, you’ll notice all 3 are very similar, with a few minor differences.

Area A, the Tropical Pacific is slightly different between the two computer models.  The JAMSTEC is slightly warmer than the CFSv2, but both are rather neutral in temperatures (near average).  So we don’t expect an el nino or la nina.  If the JAMSTEC is right, we could see a very weak el nino known as a “modoki el nino”.
Area B, the Northeast Pacific Ocean is very warm in both computer model projections, as well as our analog.  If you look at the Pacific Ocean as a whole (A & B together), all 3 maps display a very similar pattern of warmth, as well as the cooler than average water north of Hawaii.
While not labeled, if you look at the Atlantic Ocean (east of USA) you’ll notice our analog has warmer than average water off the east coast of the US, just like the models, and the cooler than average water south of Greenland on our analog, also consistent with the model projection.
We’ve combined multiple different winters, and weighted some more heavily than others, depending on how closely the conditions resemble what we anticipate this winter.

Additional Thoughts: Uncertainties & Wildcards

It’s probably the perfect time to do this section.  We just completed our recap of last winter and the comparison to the winter outlook.  So we’ve just analyzed last winter, and looked for weaknesses and errors in our methodology.  There are 2 factors we want to discuss, and the possible ramifications on the winter outlook.

First, there is the “cool” patch of water projected by the CFSv2 model off the western US coast…

We circled the area just to the east of the “B” on the map.  A small area of near normal temperatures… in a sea of well above average water.  It doesn’t look like much, but something similar to this was a major factor in the busting of last winter’s outlook.  You can read about all the details here: Winter Recap : 2018-2019 Winter Outlook Review.
Could it happen again? … Not likely.  The reasons are two fold.  First, this model is not supported by the JAMSTEC model, which has a solid band of warmth in the area in question.  Secondly, the area NW of Hawaii is cooler than average water, something last year did not have.  So we think this is not a big issue for uncertainty.  However, we still want to keep a close eye on this area as we move into the winter.  If this area is cooler than average… it could have major implications for the weather patterns that set up.

The 2nd “Wild Card” is much more interesting… let’s call it the “safety off” scenario.  When we began working on the Winter Outlook, and compiling all the winters that most closely represented this year, one winter stood out above all others.  The 2014-2015 winter.

 

On the left is the 14-15 winter… and on the right is this year’s JAMSTEC model for the winter.  The patterns are eerily similar.  For anyone who may not remember, December was very warm, and January was cooler… and then February was record breaking cold!  So we factored in the 2014 – 2015 heavily when creating this winter outlook.
So what’s the big deal?  … well, 2014 – 2015 was such a severe winter, to create our temperature projections for the winter, we had to tweak our settings.  The 2014-2015 winter was making our winter outlook too cold, and we needed to moderate the temperature outlook.  So we minimized the weight we gave to the 14-15 winter just a bit.

So when we discuss our concerns for a wildcard… the possibility that this winter is colder than what we are projecting, is on the table.  If we take the “safety off” and apply the proper weight to the 14-15 winter based on the similarities, this is what the winter temperatures look like…

This would be a much colder winter than what our actual outlook is suggesting.  You may ask, why don’t we use this as our outlook temperature projection?  The truth is, that was a record breaking winter.  And similarities aside, it’s not wise to use such an anomalous event as the basis for your winter outlook, or any forecast.  Many factors created the record cold February 2015, and to believe that will happen again, is irresponsible.  We only mention it here in this section, because we want to highlight that the temperature profile of the Pacific Ocean is very similar, and conductive to a potentially very cold winter.  We’ll have to see if the factors come together to give us the colder solution… but odds are much better that we’ll experience a more temperate winter.  That’s not to say it can’t be very cold at times, but lets wait and see.

So there you have it… the 2019-2020 Winter Outlook.  We hope you’ve enjoyed what we swore would not be as all encompassing as previous outlooks, but somehow became very, very thorough.  We greatly appreciate all your support, and can’t wait to help guide you through another winter in the Hudson Valley.  Keep Calm… and Weather On.  Thanks for reading.

Tuesday Discussion : A Day of Gray

The clouds have returned to the Hudson Valley, as another cold front approaches from the west. You can see the radar loop from 10:30am to 12:30pm shows some light scattered showers and drizzle in the Hudson Valley (lower right quadrant of image).
So for the afternoon hours, expect cloudy skies and temperatures holding in the upper 50s. Patchy areas of drizzle and spotty light rain showers are possible… especially in the Catskills. But the steady rain should hold off until after 6pm, likely through much of the evening commute.
 
The rain band off to our west will move into the Hudson Valley this evening, and will provide us with another bout of needed rainfall to the region.
 
Timing:
– 6pm to 9pm : showers develop from west to east
– 9pm to 2am : steady periods of rain
– 2am to 5am : rain tapers from west to east
 
Rainfall amounts could range between .25 and 1.25 inches. The highest amounts will be in the higher elevations and the Catskills, where .75 to 1.25 inches are likely. The valley areas should see slightly less rain, but still a good sign for any drought concerns. Things dry out on Wednesday, and the sun will return, so just one day of gray to contend with.

Sunday Discussion : Nasty Nestor Afternoon

Sunshine is gradually fading behind increasing clouds this morning, out ahead of the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor.  Unfortunately, those with outdoor plans this afternoon, will see rain showers dampen the festivities.
Timeline:
– 12pm to 3pm – Showers begin SW to NE
– 11pm to 2am – Showers taper W to E
 
Impact:
– Steady rain showers: Dutchess, Orange, E. Ulster, Rockland, Westchester & Putham counties
– Scattered rain showers : Sullivan, Delaware, W. Ulster, Greene, Columbia counties
 
This system could split the HV in half from SW to NE.  Very often our region seems to be on the edge of storm systems that track to the coast… and this will be no different.  Light rain showers will arrive for everyone early this afternoon, and then for the SE HV, those showers will likely become steady.  Up to a half inch of rain is possible in those areas.  To the north… the showers may not persist for long, as dry air will dig into the NW side of the rain shield, much like we see in the winter.  So places in Sullivan county might not even see a tenth of an inch of rain… while parts of Putnam and Dutchess county could see nearly a half inch or maybe slightly more.
 
Everything begins to taper from west to east around midnight, and we’ll have a dry Monday AM commute.  But unfortunately, our Sunday afternoon won’t be ideal, thanks to a late reminder from the 2019 tropical season.

Weekend Update : Annoying Uncle Nestor

Weekend Update – Annoying Uncle Nestor

Much like that annoying uncle that shows up to a party unexpectedly and ruins everyone’s day ?… tropical storm Nestor has the potential to unexpectedly ruin our Sunday afternoon plans.  ‘Uncle’ Nestor hasn’t confirmed that he’s coming, but it’s looking like the chances are increasing.

Tropical Storm Nestor formed in the Gulf of Mexico, and has been trending further north with its track.  Our official forecast at the moment is similar to what the National Hurricane Center is showing.  It keeps rain showers associated with Nestor just to our south on Sunday afternoon.  But as you see from the second image below, the futurecast image for 1pm on Sunday has rain showers making their way into the Mid Hudson Valley. 

So the potential exists for the afternoon hours on Sunday to be damp.  The reason is that Nestor has become slightly stronger than projected, which will allow it push a bit further NW than originally expected.  That said, the northern branch of the jet stream should help suppress the storm to ur south, and on out to sea.  However… it’s a dynamic situation, and we’ll have to keep our eyes on it.

We will continue to monitor things through today and into tonight.  But if you have plans for Sunday afternoon, you may want to have the increasing threat of Uncle Nestor making a surprise visit in the back of your mind.   

Thursday Discussion : Mid Day Radar

Our blustery Thursday continues around the Hudson Valley. 
NY State Radar Loop 9am – 12pm (HV in lower right quadrant of image)
The latest radar loop from 9am to 12pm shows the rainfall on the back edge of the nor’easter rotating southward back into portions of the Hudson Valley (located in the lower right quadrant of this image).  While much of the valley remains dry, we’re seeing elevation enhance the rain showers in the northern HV, Catskills and the higher elevations east of the Hudson Valley.  Scattered showers will be possible this afternoon… primarily in the Catskills, and areas north of I-84.  But don’t be surprised to see rain showers in eastern Dutchess, Putnam, and Westchester counties as the strong NW winds create an upslope enhancement.
 
In terms of the wind… expect little relief from the strong wind gusts.  The strongest winds will be the further south you go, as well as in the Catskills.  Sustained winds 10 to 20mph, with gusts over 35mph out of the west/northwest.  Make sure any loose objects are secure… although if they aren’t, they’re likely gone by now.
 
Conditions will slowly improve as we approach evening.  The winds will ease up a bit near sunset… but gusts over 25mph are possible through midnight.  So the blustery conditions will lessen, but not diminish entirely.  Temps will hold in the upper 40s to low 50s in general, through this afternoon and into tonight.
 
Have a nice afternoon!