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Winter's early exit, storm potential
Some very nice pictures are being painted by the last few model runs of the Euro, the GFS and its ensembles. If they turn out to be right, we could almost move the 2011 start date for meteorological spring up to tomorrow rather than March 1, as the weather pattern over the US will be of the seasonal 'transition starter' type that we'd normally see a few weeks later. Along with a strong warming trend beginning tomorrow for the lower 50% of the US, a persistent western upper troughing pattern is shown developing into the later half of next week and staying in place for several days. This should not only result in an even more robust and entrenched warmup for the central/eastern US, but introduce the possibility of thunderstorms - maybe even an expedition day or two for the Midwest and Great Plains.
GFS Forecast for Tuesday 2/22
Now again, we all know these models are not reliable more than 5 or so days out - but the big western trough is showing up with consistency and agreement among multiple models into late next week, which lends a little more believability to something like it happening. At some point, we do know that if such a trough does develop, it eventually will either move eastward or shed 'shortwaves' of energy to its east, increasing the chances for thunderstorms over the Plains/Midwest. Of course, deep moisture will not be as available as it is in later weeks/months ahead. That simply means a lesser chance for tornado outbreaks, but reasonable chances for thunderstorms. For a lot of expeditioners (including me) that's a welcome thought.
If the large trough comes through as advertised, we will be looking at a brief cold spell on its back section, possibly even a winter storm tracking somewhere through the nation's midsection. Any cold snap and snowpack, however, should be much shorter-lived and less brutal, something we'd expect as February moves into March.
At any rate, we've got some interesting weather to keep an eye on in the coming weeks.
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