The pattern over the upcoming 10-15 days presents a whole slew of challenges, but has the potential to be one winter enthusiasts remember for a long time. Arctic air is beginning to press and will eventually overwhelm the pattern by the end of the week. Additionally, a second and third surge of arctic air will be inbound next week. Each arctic plunge may become more severe as we go, especially if we can get a snowpack down. The potential is on the table for sub-zero temperatures (not even counting wind chills) by mid-month. That, my friends, is not normal for December, and is in stark contrast from Decembers of recent memory. Whether or not we get one “big ticket” event, or deal with a parade of storms that lay snow down is up for debate and will require burning the midnight oil in the good ole weather office as we progress through the next couple weeks.
The overall set-up is certainly an intriguing one. Cross-polar flow seeds pressing arctic air into the pattern (again, it comes in “waves” over the next couple weeks, each subsequently stronger). What’s of particular interest is the battle that develops between a tag-team of ridges- SW and SE (at times these will put up more resistance than the other). Long-time Hoosiers know that when cross-polar flow gets involved it can “suppress” storms, but rest easy in knowing that the SE ridge will provide resistance. In fact, some across the lower Ohio and TN Valleys may eventually complain that the southeast ridge is providing too much resistance.
As confident as we are in the overall dramatic flip in the pattern to one capable of producing severe winter weather over the next couple weeks, per usual, the devil is in the details. Expect a tight gradient between areas where heavy snow begins to stack up and little to nothing- at least initially. Additionally, depending how things evolve, icing events may eventually require attention for portions of the lower Ohio Valley and TN Valley as that shallow arctic air “oozes” south over what may become quite the impressive snowpack north. This will require further attention in week 2.
At the end of the day, there will be “haves” and “have nots” when it comes to storms (always are) and each will require our attention and fine tuning. However, if you’re a lover of winter weather, it’s hard not to sit back and smile at what’s in front of us over the upcoming couple weeks, especially compared to the past couple Decembers.
Needless to say, we’re on the field and in the game…