What the pattern that produced Sandy means for our Winter

Only a week removed from my annual winter forecast for the Carolinas and I’m seeing the pattern that I expected starting to unfold. Only problem is it might be unfolding quicker and longer than even I expected. What might be lost in the devastation of Sandy is that it’s wasn’t just a hurricane. The other side of Sandy; the cold, wintry and nor’easter side of the storm was vitally important to what happened. Meteorologically if you took Sandy our of the picture completely the east coast still would have been hit by a massive and powerful Nor’easter  Sandy just supercharged the nor’easter to make it a hybrid monster storm.

The main mechanism that lead to the odd track of Sandy was the blocking high over Greenland and it’s position even further west. The blocking leads to lots of east coast storms and cold air moving into the eastern U.S. In fact since Monday I have been talking about the possibility of another Nor’easter next week due to the same pattern.

11-1-2012 9-38-12 AM

Both the ECMWF(left below) model and GFS(right below) produce a nor’easter albeit much, much weaker than Sandy next Tuesday-Thursday. This storm bears watching just because of the erosion and damage done to the coastline already from Sandy.


The pattern is what I expected for most of the winter which is why I highlighted the mountains for a snowy and cold winter. With the nor’easter track the mountains would be solidly in the cold air and get plenty of northwest flow snows. The Piedmont is right on the border and the coast would likely be rain and milder air due to the above average waters of the western Atlantic.

Today with the beginning of November I took a look at the climate modeling for the 3 months of winter. It would appear the negative NAO(North Atlantic Oscillation) and negative AO(Arctic oscillation) I talked about in the Winter forecast post is starting to happen. It might just be staying negative for long periods of time due to the cold pacific and warm Atlantic along with sea ice melt in the western Arctic. How good is this correlation you ask? Well October 2012 for Charlotte was 1.5° below average temperatures wise and below you can see the NAO and AO were negative almost the entire month.


So what’s ahead?

Here’s a look at the latest climate forecast model for the rest of the winter. Notice a trend on the east coast. Plus our usually January thaw followed by the late season big snows.


December 2012


January 2012


February 2013



Should be an interesting winter to say the least!