Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Changes on the horizon?



After coming off the 20th warmest January on record (unofficial results), including tying or setting 3 record highs, it appears winter may be making an appearance toward the end of the week. From this morning's OAX Forecast Discussion:

1 TO 2 INCHES OF WATER EQUIVALENT IS POSSIBLE ACROSS THE SOUTH WITH AN INCH OR LESS IN THE NORTH. THE 00Z RUNS TRACK THE HEAVIER SNOW FROM WEST OF A LINE FROM BEATRICE TO LINCOLN TO BELLEVUE AND OAKLAND IOWA WITH 6+ INCHES OF SNOW POSSIBLE. THE GARCIA METHOD ALSO SHOWS THE POTENTIAL FOR HEAVY SNOW BASED ON THE DURATION OF LIFT AND MOISTURE AVAILABLE. GUSTY NORTHEAST WINDS OF 15 TO 30MPH WITH HIGHER GUSTS CAN ALSO BE
EXPECTED DURING THE STORM.

So for those of you who wondered how we were going to pay for this incredibly mild stretch of weather, there's your answer. It's still a few days out but the storm certainly bears watching. Any moisture from the storm will be welcome though as the past six weeks has been pretty dry in this region.

However, even if we had a significant storm this weekend, it would still pale in comparison to the change that happened at this time in 1989. Record warmth spread across much of Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois on January 31, 1989 with temperatures in the 60's and 70's. This was a fitting end to one of the warmest January's on record for this region but BIG changes were lurking to the north and northwest. By midday February 1, the front had passed through much of the Midwest and many places in Nebraska saw 50 degree temperature drops in a short time. Case in point, Lincoln's temperatures from the afternoon and evening of 1/31/89 into early morning on 2/1/89.

4 PM: 70
5 PM: 66
7 PM: 52
10 PM: 30
12 AM: 22
6 AM: 10 (Wind chill of -11)

Temperatures in Lincoln went below 0 late in the afternoon on Groundhog's Day and didn't go above 0 again until the afternoon of the 5th. Starting with 1/31/89 and ending with 2/5/89, here are the respective highs at the East Campus AWDN site: 72, 20, 4, -4, -2, 5. To further illustrate the difference are two figures (see above) from WeatherScope: one from 3 PM on 1/31/89 and another from 3 PM on 2/2/89.

February 1989 ended with an average temperature of 16.3 and snow on the ground for most of the month. A repeat of 1989 does not seem likely this year but that doesn't mean winter is over for us...

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