March: In like a lion?
The old saying for March goes “in like a lion, out like a lamb”. This begs the question: which one will it be this year?
Ultimately this won’t be decided for another 10 days, but as a snow-lover I can’t help but get excited about the pattern being modeled right now. All winter long we have been stuck with a crappy Pacific pattern, a sometimes good Atlantic pattern, and just overall a severe lack of winter weather in the south-east. The models keep giving hope by showing favorable patterns in the long range, and they are doing it again. So, lets take a look at what we have showing up in the long range.
First off, lets have a look at the Pacific. As you can see on the graph below, for a large portion of the first part of winter we were stuck with a negative PNA (Pacific/North-American Pattern) which resulted in a ridge/warm temps in the eastern US and a trough/cold temps in the western US. Then around New Years we saw it go positive before falling back near neutral and remaining near neutral for most of the rest of the winter up until now. You can also see that the index is forecast to spike positive as we head towards the end of this month towards the first of March. This will help to create more troughiness in the east, and help get more cold temperatures down our way.
The other pain this winter has been the NAO. As you can see in the image below, it has spent quite a bit of time in the positive territory this winter, resulting in a crappy pattern even if the Pacific was cooperating. For those that don’t know, a negative NAO is indicative of a high pressure system over the North Atlantic that helps to displace cold air into the E/SE US and keep it there. When it is positive a low pressure system exists resulting in high pressure and warmer temperatures over the E/SE. Currently, the NAO is sitting in negative territory and is forecast to stay there through at least the first of March. Notice it is forecast to go much more negative than it has all winter.
In addition, this particular NAO is centered in a west-based position over/just west of Greenland as is seen in the GFS ensemble image below. This bodes especially well for the SE as it sets the trough up in a much more favorable position for storms to track through the gulf and up the east coast versus a more east based.
Another index I keep my eye on is the MJO (Madden-Julian Oscillation). Unfortunately it does not appear to be going in a good direction for cold in the SE, but fortunately it is only a help and the NAO/PNA, especially with the positioning and strength of the NAO, should be able to overcome the MJO.
Last but not least, will we have storms? The models seem to think so, and the 30-day moving average of the SOI supports an active southern jet, although the recent spike to positive does have me a little concerned.
All in all, I like the pattern we are headed into later this month and towards the first of March. The GFS, its ensembles, as well as the Euro ensembles are hinting at storm potential running from the 28 of this month through the first 5-7 days of March. IF this pattern verifies, I will be very surprised if someone in the southeast doesn’t cash in on some snow.
We will just have to wait and see, and hope the models aren’t just playing us for a fool one more time.